Tuesday 19 March 2013

1980: STAR TREK US MONTHLY (Marvel Comics)

In this post: Spock... the Barbarian!

I surprised myself when I realised that, despite having been posting geek artefacts from yesteryear for over a year, I'd never got around to posting the covers to Marvel's ill-fated STAR TREK US monthly comic book.  So I'm correcting that oversight, in two posts, starting... now.

This eighteen issue run has a reputation, not entirely undeserved, of being pretty poor stuff.  Which - of course - means that it has a certain charm.  

Blessed with the unexpected success of STAR WARS, the House of Ideas actively snapped-up as many of the late seventies Wars wannabes as possible and this formed part of their trinity of tie-ins along with Star Wars and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.  

Marvel's legal guys sold the (ever changing) creative team a pup by only signing a licensing deal that covered THE MOTION PICTURE and left the two TV incarnations strictly off-limits.  TMP didn't exactly contain many plot points worthy of further exploration, leaving Marvel to cobble together a succession of (mostly single issue) stories that read like poor third season instalments of the TV show.  So - in that sense - they got it right.  

These are generally better than the old Gold Key issues (familiar to British readers thanks to the STAR TREK ANNUALS) because at least you get the impression that the writers and artists have at least watched the TV show, even if they don't really know how to interpret it.  

Marvel surrendered the license after 18 issues despite knowing that a second movie was on the horizon.  Presumably sales were so poor that Marvel felt a second movie would do little to reverse the trend.  It's also possible that paramount were offering the second movie as a separate license and Marvel didn't see the value in renegotiating.  After a hiatus, DC picked-up the rights (which now included all the screen incarnations to date) and did a much better job of it.  

The eighteen issue run, all set in the period after TMP and generally regarded by fans as being the beginnings of a second five year mission, was reprinted in the UK in FUTURE TENSE weekly/ monthly and in two one-shot holiday specials.  

After being out-of-print for decades (but relatively easy to find in the back issue boxes), IDW reissued the entire run in one welcome omnibus edition.  It's worth a look.  

Marvel's movie adaptation first appeared as a glossy Marvel Super Special (see here for a complete run) before being rerun as the first three issues of the monthly book.  In the UK, it appeared in the STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE ANNUAL (Marvel/ Grandreams) and Future Tense. 

For more about FUTURE TENSE: go here and here.
For the Marvel UK STAR TREK SPECIALS: click here and here.

April 1980

May 1980

June 1980

July 1980

August 1980

September 1980

October 1980

November 1980

December 1980

January 1981


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