Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Comics Review : Star Trek Leonard McCoy Frontier Doctor Issue 1

The covers: The standard IDW three to choose from. All are by John Byrne. Cover A has McCoy's back to the viewer as he strongly stands facing a menagerie of infirm aliens, calling "Next!" This sums up McCoy's character succinctly. Cover B is a more humorous cover as a spotlight of art surrounded by stars displays the doctor dispensing medicine to a sentient in need. The quote below the art is as priceless as it as old as the hills, but I loved it and that's the cover I purchased. The Cover R(etailer) I(ncentive) is the same as B, though it's just Byrne's pencils and inks. I'm assuming Lovern Kindzierski is the colorist of the first two covers though there's no signature on my B, nor any mention in the interior cover's credits. Both are colored well. Overall grade: All A+

The story: I hate doctor shows. Don't like them. Don't care for the drama in the setting. Ever. The mention of a Star Trek series focusing on McCoy had my interest piqued. I love McCoy, but haven't been too keen on the Pocket novels focusing on him, and I wondered if there was enough story to warrant a comic. John Byrne dazzlingly shows how it's done. The first page had me awestruck at who would be "reading" McCoy's story. And the steps this person takes before he begins to read had me giggling in anticipation. I also want to give a big "Thank you!" for a title to the story. I miss these in most IDW Trek comics. The story is set before Star Trek: The Motion Picture as McCoy and Jon Mikael Duncan {a doctor (who focuses too much on the experimental -- future stories?) and pilot} leave an Andorian colony in a wonderfully named antique ship practicing frontier medicine. Their leave from the colony goes off kilter quickly due to a stowaway. Her inclusion may seem like eye candy at first, but is a necessity to the calamity on Ophiucus III. An odd infection has broken out and McCoy and Duncan have to stop it. What follows are great places fans have never been to (Pages 8 & 9) and an ecosystem that is so much more entertaining than Avatar. I really enjoyed that no one is an idiot in this book: all characters have specific wants/views and function according to them (Pages 10 & 11). I didn't expect that final panel on Page 17, but the reasoning and solution to it became obvious on Pages 18 & 19. By Page 22 you're going to wish the brandy had stayed out! Byrne has always, and will always, be known for his artwork, but focus on how this story is laid out: every single page is a cliffhanger that leads to the next page. It's not all action that moves the reader to continue, it's also information (the smooth transition at the bottom of Page 2, or Page 7, Page 10, etc.). If you want to know how to lay out a story for comics, I strongly suggest you study this comic. Academics aside, McCoy is so beautifully in character you'll get chills. You can hear DeForest Kelley in every panel: no dialogue is untrue. For me, the money shot is the last panel of Page 21. If that's not Classic Trek McCoy, I don't know what is. Overall grade: A+

The art: Were you someone who longed to see more of Federation space during Byrne's Romulan saga? Your wishes have been more than answered, my friend. If on Page 1 you're not feeling a glow inside, proceed no further. By Page 2 I was settling in with a grin on my face as the "reader" began. McCoy is bearded and I loved it. The ship McCoy is on is a great piece of "antique" transitional equipment between the Enterprise's final voyage and the first film. The stowaway is a great piece of fanboy eye candy, but don't you call her that! McCoy yelling on Page 5 is great! Pages 8 & 9 demonstrate the budgetary constraints Classic Trek had. These pages prove you don't need violence to invoke epicness. I also liked the stages of the disease and Page 19's time elapsed solution. I'm used to seeing Spider-Man jump around this way, but it works just as well in showing aid given. Again, my favorite picture is the last panel on Page 21. My only nit is that the surprise of Page 11 is ruined because of its size and it overpowered my reading of Page 10. But let's be honest: this one panel doesn't ruin the book, all it does is begin the chaotic snowball rolling in the plot. A minor nit. Then again, why don't I bitch about the Mona Lisa? It's Byrne. It's really, really, really good. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Another great piece to this book is Lovern Kindzierski's coloring. Not only is there coloring to intensify the settings (Page 1 and Pages 8 & 9), but emotions (Page 4, Page 5, and Page 18). For these three pages I appreciate the single colored background -- nothing gives me Classic Trek chills than this! Agricultural environments, deep space, technology heavy labs: Kindzierski covers all areas expertly. I've got nothing to grouse about! Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, a hypospray, a signaling device, a mist sprayer, and a gorgeous -- welcome -- title keep Neil Uyetake busy. All that's missing are Classic Trek bridge noises in the interior of McCoy's ship. Overall grade: A

The final line: I could kick myself in the ass for not going to my local comic book store for six days and possibly missing this book! And that's what you'll be doing if you miss this. This comic is Star Trek as you remember it, as you see it, and as you want it to be. John Byrne, thank you for continuing to Trek! Overall grade: A+