Debuting at New York Comic Con and now in comic stores nationwide, IDW's new four-issue miniseries "Star Trek: Khan: Ruling in Hell" probes the early days of the charismatic leader's time on Ceti Alpha V, in the moments just before and immediately following the ruination of its ecosystem. The first issue, written by brothers and regular Trek scribes Scott and David Tipton with art by Fabio Mantovani, sees Khan and the Botany Bay colony establishing a fresh society on the untamed landscape, even as dissention rises as to whether their new home is a chance to forge a perfect civilization or a cruel and unforgivable form of exile.
Khan Noonian Singh debuted in the Original Series episode "Space Seed," in which he and his followers were awoken by the Enterprise crew after centuries of hibernation. Khan was revealed to be the product of ancient genetic engineering experiments on Earth, a one-time conqueror who was driven off the planet when the populace rebelled against such augmented rulers. After being treated for his injuries and acclimating to his new home in the future, Khan attempted to commandeer the Enterprise with the help of an infatuated Lt. Marla McGivers. When this failed, Captain Kirk graciously chose to exile Khan and his people to the uninhabited Ceti Alpha V rather than attempt to imprison them. It may have been a grand plan, but in "Star Trek II," which takes place 15 years later, it was revealed that the neighboring planet Ceti Alpha VI exploded six months later, wreaking havoc on the natural environment of Khan's new home. Khan, after years struggling for mere survival, has frayed into madness and obsessed with revenge.
CBR News spoke with Scott Tipton about the "Ruling in Hell" miniseries, which partly bridges the gap between Khan's famous conflicts with Kirk.
We know that Ceti Alpha VI exploded six months after Khan and his crew were settled on Ceti Alpha V, which wrecked the latter planet's ecosystem. How far along had Khan got by this point in establishing a new society?
Scott Tipton: Well, short of giving too much away, when you have someone as supremely ambitious and competent as Khan, he's going to be very driven to succeed. Which will make what happens next all the more tragic, when it's taken from his grasp…
Did the natural devastation of Ceti Alpha V happen all at once, or did things slowly decline? What would it have been like to live in that seventh month of settlement?
That's exactly what we'll be seeing in our second issue, as Khan and his followers come to the unsettling realization that their new world is changing, and not for the better. As for what it was like – well, it was no vacation, as readers will find out.
Who are some of the other prominent characters in this story? How has their ordeal changed them and how they view Khan?
Aside from Khan, we'll be seeing a lot of Lt. Marla McGivers, Khan's new bride who left Starfleet behind to live alongside her dream man who stepped out of the pages of history. The Khan/Marla relationship is so fascinating. You have this completely capable officer who throws away her entire life as she knows it for love, and then with Khan, this relationship he never expected or wanted turns out to humanize him, and also becomes his undoing --at least in the original episode – in our series, well, you'll have to wait and see!
We also have a much younger and more naïve Joachim, Khan's right-hand man from "Star Trek II," whom we see Khan quickly come to depend upon in building their new world. And there will be some new faces as well -- how do they respond to Khan's decisions as leader? Therein hangs the tale.
Is this purely a "man vs. nature" tale, or will Khan face challenges from other Botany Bay survivors?
That, as they say, would be telling.
Any hints as to how Khan and his followers managed to survive? Quite a good percentage of them made it through, given the circumstances.
As Joachim himself would say, "Theirs is the superior…"
Seriously, though, if you look at how many of them were there at the beginning, and then how many were left in "Star Trek II," the odds don't look so good for them after all.
After being stranded for 15 years, it's not surprising Khan has a grudge against Kirk. But in those early days after the disaster, was there a sense that Kirk might come back?
I can't give away everything here – but that would certainly be a logical assumption, wouldn't it?
Given that there are fifteen years' worth of untold story, will the miniseries be focusing on one block of time or span several years?
Our story takes place over the course of the first year or so of Khan's life on Ceti Alpha V, but those are some very important months. Months that would come to affect Khan for the next decade and a half.
What can you tell us about how artist Fabio Mantovani brings the pre- and post-apocalyptic world of Ceti Alpha V to life, along with the settlers forced to live upon it?
Fabio is doing a marvelous job realizing the savage paradise that was Ceti Alpha V, which we as Star Trek fans never got to see in either the original TV series or "Star Trek II." In the days before the catastrophe, it looks both beautiful and quietly treacherous. And the colors by Fabio and Chiara Cinabro add a layer of emotional depth to the piece so much greater than I had anticipated. The pages look positively gorgeous; I can't wait for people to see them.
Finally, whose idea was the plush figure, offered alongside this new series?
That was the brainstorm of IDW Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall. I think he just wanted one for himself...