I haven't been plugged into the "Star Trek" universe for quite some time, but I decided to change that when I saw that John Byrne was onboard for a series starring Leonard McCoy. I vaguely recall having a pair of "Who's Who" comics from the late 1980s that featured Star Trek characters -- a surprising number of them drawn by John Byrne. Byrne's art has always intrigued me, and the comfortable familiarity of Dr. McCoy made this book seem worth a peek.
There's no red shirts taking a fall, there's no high drama space-born explosions, heck, there aren't even any Klingons in this book. McCoy's disguise -- or rather the beard John Byrne (who sports a beard rather similar in appearance last I saw) drew on McCoy -- almost threatens to pull this story off-course completely. Luckily, that divergence is corrected by the appearance of Theela the Andorian who, as a blue-skinned, white-haired, horned alien is one of the most distinctive alien species from the Star Trek universe. Having Scotty show up to lead McCoy and his crew around Gamma Tarses VII helps ground the comic in Star Trek lore.
Byrne writes McCoy so well that at times I could hear DeForest Kelley's voice in my head. The lack of action and cobbled up setting feel more like a creator-owned effort from Byrne than a licensed "Star Trek" comic.
With the rich and diverse history offered by the "Star Trek" property, it seems to me that there could have been a stronger effort made to tie this story into the Star Trek universe instead of creating new aliens. The smiling visages of the aliens on Tarses VII gets to a point of corny creepiness that seems appropriate for the 1960s "Star Trek" show, but falls flat in this comic.
As far as medical procedure comic books go, this one is my first, and most likely, my last. Byrne's plot holds some clichÃ©d similarities that we've all seen before, but the story itself, jammed chockfull of panels, dialog, and (sometimes) unnecessary detail, quickly lost my interest. Theela and McCoy's other comrade, Jon Duncan, are little more than cardboard cutout spaceholders that failed to intrigue me.
While I'm happy to see that John Byrne seems to be enjoying his time world-building in the IDW "Star Trek" universe. I wish the end result was more engaging and enjoyable. As it stands, this comic is average fare from someone of Byrne's talent, ability, and experience. A great deal of the drawings in this issue felt like copies of John Byrne drawings I've seen elsewhere, almost as though Byrne himself has chosen to use his work as a starting point of reference.
On a franchise such as "Star Trek," average just isn't enough to keep me coming back for more. True Trekkies jonesing for more adventures from the original crew may find enough of a fix to stay connected though.