Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Star Trek: the Manga (TokyoPop)

This is a great way to get Star Trek fans to try something different. You already have several prose series, based on each television incarnation, as well as comic books based on each. With the popularity of Japanese comics (manga) and animation (anime) it was pretty clever of the folks over at TokyoPop, a major publisher of new and translated manga, to try something like this.

This volume of stories, titled SHINSEI SHINSEI, treats us to five stories with different creative teams that show the continuing adventures of the original ST cast. Kirk, McCoy, Spock and the rest of the crew are all in character, although the manga style drawing does not present the cast as we normally picture them. Some of the artists go for a more realistic style, while others use a mixture including the highly exaggerated (with deformed facial features expressing anger, surprise, etc.).

I’m not familiar with any of the artists presented here, but most do a nice job in their interpretations of the Enterprise crew. Gregory Giovanni Johnson, in the second story “Anything But Alone” does the best when it comes to making the characters resemble the actors we are familiar with. EJ Su and Makoto Nakatsuka both have styles we immediately recognize from manga we have read, moving from Nakatsuka’s more realistic to the ‘deformed’ and big-eyed kids of Su in the last story in the book. All the artists do a good job with the action and tell the stories well.

Of the writers, I only know Mike W. Barr from his work on DC titles (like BATMAN & THE OUTSIDERS) and his own creation the MAZE AGENCY, which has been distributed by several independent publishers. All the stories are decent, with the first, SIDE EFFECTS, by Chris Dows & Nakatsuka, introducing a character who just might be the original member of a race which went on to be a major ST menace. (I won’t give it away!)

Overall, if you find this in the graphic novel section of your local library, or are a real ST fan, you might enjoy this book. I wouldn’t mind finding that this is the first in a series of such manga. The TokyoPop folks have also included a 'bonus' with a prose story by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, taken from a new anthology of ST short-stories STAR TREK: CONSTELLATIONS.
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