What kind of relationship do comic books and films share?
This is a broad, subjective, and fairly debatable question to ask most comic readers, but it is still nonetheless a question that continuously courses through the minds of those who are about to buy a book that is based on one of their favorite films or television properties. And, if there is one thing that adaption has taught fans in the last twenty years, it’s that the stories presented in comics can sometimes offer more than most realize, and, using the Star Trek books as an example, in their pages lies something far more profound and instructive, considerably to the genre of science fiction.
When Star Trek was first released in the nineteen sixties it only possessed a third of the audience it eventually gained in the years that followed, and after it received the accolades it so righteously deserved Star Trek became a brand that quickly escalated into other mediums, including merchandising, films, and of course a string of comic books that were published by DC and other companies. The reason why the Star Trek comics are valid is because of the foundations they are built upon and the doors they can open to those who are interested in seeing it grow and change.
Now, the frequent question that fans of both Star Trek and its popular rival, Star Wars, receive from those who are unfamiliar with the two franchises is how much of a difference do both these series’ share? In essence, what makes Star Trek and Star Wars alike and what makes them separate? And the answer to this question is in regards to the core elements that both these series revolve around. Whatever one is a fan of or whichever franchise you believe to be superior one thing that is for certain is that the intentions of either franchises is to provide readers with very different things. For example, the world of Star Wars is constructed around the battle between good and evil. There is Jedi and there is Sith. There is the Empire and there is the Rebellion, and there is a continuous struggle to see which one will defeat the other. Of course Star Trek does possess these concepts as well (after all, it would not be much of a story if there weren’t), but discusses the nature of the conflict with a more peaceful tone, what really gives Star Trek its premise is the fact that it represents the pursuit of both discovery and truth. It includes stories of incredible deepness, incredible sophistication, and can, as a result of its intense sci-fi elements, deepen the narratives to a degree whereby it can instruct readers about science in ways that only a series like Star Trek can. Now this is not to say, though, that there are other comic book stories out there that decline to examine such elements, although it is evident that they are not given nearly as much attention as the films or the television shows.
Yet, if this is true, then one must ask why is it so important for the Star Trek comic books to gain more popularity and respect than their media counterpart? Why is it so vital to write a piece on the Star Trek comics than the dozens of other science fiction stories that are just as relevant and just as crucial to the science fiction genre?
Such questions are all valid, but the real reason why the Star Trek comics in particular should be given more attentiveness comes as a result of the reasons why someone would choose to write a critical essay. They firmly believe that there is something being overlooked and undervalued and it requires more attention, and if this something is given what it requires then more will come as a result, and in the instance of Star Trek that level of achievement is intricate to its scientific elements as well as the connections it shares to other works.
A great example of this was made by comic book legend Alan Moore, who, upon beginning his comic career, became a prolific writer. The explanation for Mr. Moore’s success extended well beyond his writing capabilities and was grounded deeply in his ability to make scientific theories accessible within the world of sequential storytelling. Readers were being granted access into the world of science simply by reading a classic tale by Alan Moore that included theories and principles that were fundamental to the world of physics (2000 A.D), biology (Swamp Thing), and even chemistry (Watchmen). And for those reasons and these is why Star Trek comics are becoming increasingly vital, because with them, writers and artists can familiarize themselves with a stream of knowledge and truth, and if they can succeed in this way, than the Star Trek comics might very well follow the tradition of books like Michio Kaku’s The Physics of the Impossible and Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe. By this logic Star Trek comics will shift more to what Gene Roddenberry and the other writers were attempting to accomplish. It was about creating new worlds not too distant from our own as well as acknowledging certain scientific principles that discuss the current problems that our own society was struggling to overcome.
When such things are accomplished great science fiction is created as a result, and this in turn explodes the genre and delivers in ways that only Star Trek comic books can deliver, for when they hit the bookshelves, not only will readers receive a new story, they will also be given the chance to learn about another element of science and to read books that are inspired from the world they are living in, a world that has been conjured solely from the imagination.
The great science fiction authors of our time believed that what makes the genre extraordinary is when we write not about the future, but of the present, and while Star Wars is indeed a mythology that is inspired by moments in history (ie. the rise of Germany during World War II), the themes and ideas that are present in Star Trek are the kind of science fiction elements fundamental to its future. If they remain explored then not only will the knowledge of Star Trek increase, the sales of comic books do as well, and hopefully follow the trajectory of comics of Doctor Who and Alias, where something which once started out as a television serial has become transformed into something more prolific, something that can take us deeper into the frontier, and shows us the reason why we travel there, why we choose to go where no man has ever gone before.