Star Trek: The Manga Volume 3: Uchu
Fans of Wil Wheaton’s blog or books know him to be an adroit writer
of nonfiction, an almost Mark Twain for the geek crowd if you don’t
mind such a comparison. Yet his "Art of War" story shows he is talented
with fictional narratives, too. The story involves Kirk and a Klingon
named Kring both trapped together in a collapsed mine on the planet
Angrena. The "enemies forced to cooperate" situation isn’t unique to
science fiction or to Star Trek, be it the film Enemy Mine or
"The Enemy" and "Darmok" episodes of TNG. These kinds of narratives
succeed if there is something different about how they are told and if
they provide the reader with something to think about with the
characters or a social lesson. Wheaton does all of these things with
The story begins with both Kirk and Kring having to answer for their
behaviors of helping the other person survive. One side of the page
tell the story from Kirk’s experience, the other side of the page is
from Kring’s. This allows for a juxtaposition of the Federation and
Klingon cultures throughout the narrative. Also, we learn something
about Captain Kirk and his decisions here show why he is such a great
leader. There is also a social lesson here about not treating people,
especially the enemy during war, as stereotypes. It is a lesson which
is in the grand tradition of Star Trek.
The art by E.J. Su is effective, although one of my complaints about
manga comics and Star Trek has historically been the lack of colors.
The tradition for manga is of course black and white art, yet Star
Trek’s tradition is bright colors. In fact, colors are an important
storytelling device in Star Trek, from adding danger to scenes with red
shirts to reinforcing the symbolism of diversity. I am not suggesting
that a manga should have colors, it is that the lack of colors for a
Star Trek comic are disconcerting and obviously distracting. That being
said, Su’s art is quintessential manga art, with sharp lines that show
the expressions of the characters in exaggerated and fun styles.
They gave me 10 out of 10! Dude!