Star Trek Countdown Graphic Novel Review

Posted: May 31, 2009 in Scifi
Tags: , , , ,

st countdown coverIf you have heard the two Star Trek podcasts, (if you haven’t here are the links to my Star Trek podcasts Part 1 Part 2 there was a brief mention about the main baddie Nero. While we all had the agreement that Nero was better than several past villains, I still wanted to know what drove Nero to where we met him in the movie. This graphic novel Star Trek Countdown is supposed to fill in that gap and sadly… I’m still not happy.

Word of warning before I go any further SPOILERS AHEAD. We see Nero working with his mining crew. They are the first to witness the star eruption in the Hobus System. We jump ahead to see Ambassador Spock is speaking to the Romulan Senate about this impending doom. Nero attends the same hearing and offers first hand reporting to back up Spock’s claim. While the Senate dismisses the claims, I’m struck by the thought, “Hey, I read this already when it was called the destruction of Krypton.” Remember how the Jor-El tried to warn others how Krypton was on the verge of destruction; well, that was great but this was Countdown story was really pissing me off.  

Nero and Spock join forces and race off to find Decalithium to convert it to the “Red Matter”. Nero leaves behind his wife who is carrying their unborn child.  We understand Nero’s motivation to save his homeworld against Senate but there with such a looming threat one would have thought he would have brought his wife and those his crew cared for as a matter of safety. Along the way, his ship comes under attack by the Remans. Aw, geez you have got to be frakinn’ kidding me. For those who love Star Trek Nemesis you might be overjoyed by this but since I hated that freakin’ movie; WHY?!? This malnourished vampire Romulan cousins attack for no known reason and luckily for Nero, Spock and friends, we get not only a Federation ship to come to their aid but it’s the Enterprise and captained by Data. WTF?!?

Okay, yeah Data is back. We find out the imprint of Data’s neural net did to B4 ala Spock did to McCoy in ST II:TWOK with his katra was successful. So what happened to B4? Aside from that, we see Nero aboard the Enterprise trying to access information. While all information about Decalithium, Red Matter, Hobus System, and Memory-Alpha was denied, he accessed infomation about Starfleet,  History, Enterprise, and Captains. The caption from Nero, “Hopefully, I can learn something useful.” The next panel is a holo-image James T. Kirk. This is ties to the eventual meeting towards the end of the new Trek film. Nero utters, “James T. Kirk was considered to be a great man…” while choking young Kirk. This has got to be the weakest connection between the graphic novel and the movie. There are other examples which I will discuss but none are as bad as I mentioned about Kirk.

The other notables which weakened the story further was mainly about timing. After the Reman incident, everybody heads over to Vulcan. The case is pleaded to the Vulcan Council to give them the knowledge of Red Matter manipulation but they were turned down. This is when Nero heads back to Romulus but warns Spock that he holds him responsible if his planent dies. In the movie, Ambassador Spock does arrive too late to save Romulus but does use the Red Matter to collapse the super nova. In the book, Nero arrives in time to witness the planet being destroyed. This now begs the question, “Should Nero blame myself and not Spock?” Is this then a case of transference? Does Nero hating Spock really means he hates himself? One could argue this may be the true motivation of Nero for revenge but honestly, I will admit, I’m probably making too much of all this. 

As a fan of Trek, I hold Trek to a higher set of standards over other scifi movies and television programs. This is not to say that past Trek was not guilty of having continuity problems or crappy storylines but I wanted this villain to have drive to make him an effective baddie. The new Trek films hinges on Nero plain and simple. Follow me on this next thought based on Bethany from Dogma. Bethany works as an abortion clinic and is called upon to save the very existence of humanity due to her special heritage. At one point of the movie she’s talking about when she lost her faith. 

I remember the exact moment. I was on the phone with my mother, and she was trying to counsel me through what was happening to me and my marriage. And she said something like “There’s always a plan.” And I… just go so angry. I mean, I know she was God, right – God had a plan. But I was like “What about my plans?” You know? Like, don’t they count for anything? I had planned to grow old with my husband and have a family – wasn’t that good enough for God?

And yet in a deleted scene Bethany, earlier in the movie, did something that caused her marriage to fail:
My first year in college. All through high school, I dated the same guy -  Walter Flanagan. We were really in love, right? So much so that we decided to go to Carnegie Mellon together... that's this college in Pittsburgh. So there we are - away at school, and there's suddenly no parents to worry about anymore, so we're screwing like rabbits - just constantly doing it. And I wound up getting pregnant. So he begs me to have it. He says we should quit school and get married, and I'm telling him that that that'll screw up our educations. We fought about it for a week - my arguement being there was no rush to have kids, you know? We could always have a baby in a couple of years - after school. So I got the abortion against his wishes... I mean, what the hell - it was my body, right? After graduation, we got married and immdiately set about trying to have kids. We tried like hell for the first six months, and... nothing. So, I went to a gynocologist to see if everything was okay to my end. (beat) It wasn't. (takes a drink)
My uteran wall had this fissure. It seems that the doctor who performed the procedure on me years before had somehow botched it. I'd never be able to have a child. So there I am - devastated. And now I have to go home to break - his baby. And after I explain it to him through my tears, he sits on the couch and rubs his eyes. And in the calmest, most rational voice I've ever heard anybody use in my life, he asks me for a divorce. And I fought him, you know? I tried to talk him out of it; told him there were alternatives - like we could adopt. And all he said was he wanted a wife who could have his children.
My point here is that at first Bethany blamed God for her failed marriage which led to lose her faith. With the deleted scene above, Bethany was the one who caused her own misery and to blame God for her own actions is like Nero blaming Spock for the loss of not only Romulus but his wife and unborn child. Nero had the chance to save his kind and family even if it was just a handful of people. But since this movie revolved Nero's need for revenge and his anger is misplaced. Does that come across in the film, no. Does the graphic novel helps to fill in the gap like the deleted scene from Dogma, no but the correlations are similar with Bethany and Nero.
Finally, while there were some cool moments about the tattoo markings these Nero and his crew had, seeing Picard, Data, Geordi and Worf, I am still not happy as a pseudo fanboy. I am actually more aggrivated because of the wasted opprotunity to really capture a great villain potential like Nero. Collect the book for some great artwork but there is not much aside from that.
  1. Daniel says:

    Nice ! Big “Trek” fan here, looking forward to the novel !!!


  2. monster7of9 says:

    I am also looking forward to read the novel and I hope that it will do what the graphic novel and movie failed to do with Nero.


  3. […] Star Trek Countdown Graphic Novel Review « Monster Scifi Show Blog […]


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