If you’ve been following my reviews of DC’s medieval adventure comic Demon Knights, you’ll know that I’ve been a little disappointed in its portrayal of Vandal Savage. A character that’s typically (and excellently) been portrayed as a nigh-immortal, merciless conqueror has basically become Gimli from Lord of the Rings, a carousing, lighthearted oaf who’s seemingly going to play nice with the rest of the guys on his team. That’s fine, I suppose, but it’s not the Vandal Savage I want to see. A month ago, I would not have guessed that I may be getting what I want in a comic co-published by IDW.
Now, I could be totally off-base here, but I have strong suspicious that the mysterious antagonist whose face we never see in the joint DC/IDW effort Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes is actually Mr. Savage himself. We’ve got enough hints that would certainly implicate him, a dark goatee, a super-serious diction and a propensity to conquer chief among them. There are also suggestions that the history of this comic’s alternate Earth diverges because of a change in its ancient empires (in which the Savage I know would certainly have a vested interest), and there was that curious flashback scene to the days of cavemen in the first issue. All-in-all, I’d say we’ve got a multi-dimensional Vandal on our hands.
But what if I’m wrong? Honestly, I don’t really care. The fact that this book has me speculating means that Chris Roberson and Jeffrey Moy have done their job; they’ve brought a sense of fun and wonder to this crossover book. When you’ve got a concept as out-there as this one, that’s what you need to make it work. I had a really good time reading my way through this comic, trying to figure out what was happening, who’s behind things and what crazy Trek/DC mash-up we might see next. For fans of either property, but especially of both of them, this comic’s a good time.
So what’s happening? Somehow, both the classic Trek crew (sadly minus Scotty) and a core line-up of Legionnaires have found themselves in an unfamiliar world ruled by the Imperial Planets. As Spock tells Captain Kirk: ”In short, it would appear that this is a history in which humanity’s darker impulses were not leavened by its better nature.” In this universe, agents of both fictional universes mingle freely, but it’s not always pretty. Klingons battle Khunds in a terrible war. The Dominion attempted to conquer the changelings of Durla but were not successfully (by the way, Chris Roberson, who told you that putting Deep Space Nine references in your scripts is the key to my heart?). A mixture of humans, Coluans, Talokians and more spread their militaristic, quasi-xenophobic power across the galaxy, so you can see that our heroes haven’t picked the most friendly place to end up. As both groups try to get to their bottom of their situation — and how to get home — soldiers of the Imperial Planets attempt to track them down. And what do they want with the Legion’s time machine?
So, yeah, this book is a lot of fun. I’m really enjoying Jeffrey Moy’s art, which has just a bit of a light touch, allowing it to convey quick action scenes when necessary. It’s also detailed enough to sell the iconic characters we know and love. This might sound way too obvious, but I’m beginning to think the key to drawing a Star Trek book is nailing the faces of the cast, and Moy’s got them down. I also think he does something especially clever in the one panel we spend with the Klingons, which shows them towing the line between classic Trek‘s slimy, leathery look and the forehead-ridged conquerors of Next Gen and beyond. Fans of the property will know what kind of debate Klingon appearance has caused, and whether intentional or not I enjoy that Moy plays with it just a little.
If I have one complaint about this series so far, it’s that I think things could move a little bit faster. We only get six issues to spend with this story, and our two main sets of characters don’t meet until the very end of this second installment. Still, that’s a minor issue; to me the story develops organically, which is the most important thing. Also, I’ve never noticed this before, but Chris Roberson has a really keen ear for language. His opening sequence (featuring the maybe-Vandal Savage) is full of strong imagery — we’re taken to “the beating heart of the Imperial Planets,” our shadowy enemy reminds us that “eternal vigilance is the price of dominance.” This is good stuff, and vivid language like that pops up throughout the book. It’s a really treat for me; Roberson brings textual depth to a story that doesn’t necessarily need it, which makes it all the better.
Am I right or wrong about Vandal Savage? Does some bad guy from the Trek universe have something to do with this too? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out. If the idea of mixing these universes sounds appealing to you, pick up the book yourself — I think you’ll end up in the same boat as me.
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more