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Does it count as a redshirt death if everyone’s uniform is red? – Star Trek #19

July 28, 2010

This was my re-entry point for Star Trek comics back in the day. I had a bunch from the previous DC run, but I had moved on to other things for a while before I plucked this one off the rack. I was a pretty big fan of the franchise in this time period, which was perhaps the high point of Star Trek fandom in general. I never wore a costume or learned to speak Klingon, but I consumed a lot of material — books, comics, movies, shows, etc.

I’m not sure what it was that made me pick up this book — it’s been close to twenty years (!) since I bought it, and the memory of whatever my motivation might have been is a bit hazy. It may simply have been the cover. Jerome K. Moore handled many of them in those years, and he produced some very striking images, hewing closely to the actors’ very recognizable faces and crafting some wonderful designs.

Yeah, maybe that was it. The cover.

The story is a pretty good one. “Once a Hero!” is brought to us by Peter David, Gordon Purcell and Arne Starr, and in it we find James T. Kirk struggling to draft a eulogy for a fallen crewmember:

He didn’t know much about the young man, and because of that everything he thinks of to say sounds hollow. Bones shows up and offers his usual homespun orneriness:

Kirk starts asking others — those who may have been closer to Ensign Lee — for information about him, but no one seems to know much about the guy. This is all the more frustrating for Kirk because the Ensign, a young security officer, died saving Kirk’s life on an away mission when they were ambushed by some stranded space pirates. Kirk harkens back to that incident as he makes his rounds:

They were unable to get Lee back to sickbay in time to save him, and Spock could only ease his passing:

Kirk goes to see his Vulcan first officer, hoping that Spock’s fleeting mental contact with the Ensign was sufficient to offer some clues as to what kind of person Lee was. No dice:

Kirk finally gives up on trying to get to know someone who’s already passed, and at the Ensign’s service delivers a eulogy that reads as a remorseful panegyric for all those anonymous sacrificial redshirts of the past:

I’ve always liked the movie era soulful Kirk, and I can hear William Shatner’s voice saying those words. And at least he didn’t repeat the “Of all the souls I have encountered…” line from The Wrath of Khan. That would be *ahem* a bit tacky.

It’s a nice little issue. David was very much at home in the Star Trek universe, and I can remember reading some of his novels, like Imzadi and Vendetta, and enjoying them very much. And Purcell and Starr were an excellent team — their art combo wasn’t as flashy as many of their contemoraries’, but their likenesses were very good, and the importance of that can’t be underestimated when depicting flesh and blood icons.

I kind of miss being a big Star Trek fan. For a while in my life it was a ton of fun, but there’s been a whole lot of crap in that franchise between 1991 and now. A lot.

Before I go, here’s a pinup/ad that ran in books from this period — I remember liking the depiction of the young Kirk and the evolution from TOS to TNG.

“May your journey be free of incident…”

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