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Friday, July 10, 2015

Panel Vision - 15 Comic/Star Trek Crossovers That Should Happen Next

This week marked the launch of a brand new Star Trek crossover series with Star Trek/Green Lantern – Spectrum War.  The first issue isn’t all that great but if you want more details you’re welcome to read my actual review of it here.  Star Trek actually has a fairly lengthy history of crossover stories in comic book form, previously crossing over with Doctor Who, The Legion of Superheroes, The X-Men, Ghostbusters, Transformers, and The Planet of the Apes.  However this latest crossover has got me thinking about how Star Trek hasn’t actually crossed over with all of the DC or Marvel comic universes, just small aspects of them.  It got me thinking about what other comic properties Star Trek could stand to cross into and I put together a top 15 list, here they are.  

15-            30 DAYS OF NIGHT
            30 Days of Night is a series of vampire comics from IDW.  Though initially a simple 3 issue mini-series it’s since spun out into a much larger mythos of comics and tie-ins, even spawning quite a few film adaptations and a crossover with the X-Files.  It might seem strange to success Star Trek, a series notorious for a more scientifically mind approach to speculative fiction, should crossover with a vampire show but here me out.  Star Trek The Original Series never really worked off of such strict standards, instead its emphasis was on finding imaginative and weird scenarios for the crew to encounter, like teaming-up with Abraham Lincoln.  TOS would be the perfect combination point for a story about the USS Enterprise becoming infested with space-vampires, especially given 30 Days of Night already featured a really good space based vampire story. 

14-            WEIRD WORLD
            Weird World was initially a strange sword and sorcery style comic published by Marvel during the time beefy, barbarian fantasy was very in.  This was the same era when Marvel picked up the license for Conan the Barbarian comics.  The series is getting a bit of revival recently with a tie-in comic to Marvel’s Secret Wars event.  The basic idea is about an incredibly strange and random science fantasy environment that blends Alice in Wonderland style nonsense with the kind of sword and sandal fantasy action of Robert E. Howard.  Weird World would be the perfect dumping ground for any Star Trek cast given how much it defies their greatest strengths of logic and rationality.

13-            ADAM STRANGE
          Adam Strange is a DC character known as the hero of two worlds.  Strange was previously a simple Earth man till a strange alien teleportation ray called a Zeta Beam transported him across space to the planet Rann where he dawned a jetpack and became the planet’s greatest hero.  Adam’s had a lot of tweaks to his character over the years that have really allowed him to transcend his Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon origins.  Jetpacks & Star Trek are two great tastes that go great together but I’d especially like to see Adam’s blend of quick strategy and “man of two worlds” persona interact with a less hands on Captain like Picard. 

            These two are a double feature but they’re so often intertwined as characters it’d feel wrong to feature one without the other.  High Evolutionary is a super scientist from the Marvel universe who technology puts him above whole civilizations.  Adam Warlock, depending on the continuity, is his most advanced creation, a new stage in evolution meant to be the perfect being.  Eugenics and genetic engineering are a big part of the Star Trek mythos for the worse, helping to start the Eugenic Wars that devastated Earth and created the series most infamous villain Khan.  It’d be really cool to see who a Federation crew interacted with beings defined by genetic perfection and manipulation, especially Dr. Bashir from Deep Space 9 who was a genetically modified being himself. 

11-            SQUADRON SUPREME
            The Squadron Supreme was initially a one off group of Marvel characters created as thinly veiled allegories for DC’s Justice League.  They basically only existed to allow Marvel to do a JLA vs. Avengers type storyline but garnered the attention of Mark Gruenwald, one of Marvel’s best authors.  Gruenwald used the team to tell a gripping and though provoking 12-issue series about the nature of power when the team attempts to turn their world into a utopia.  Everything about Gruenwald’s Squadron Supreme speaks to some aspect of Star Trek; a utopian dream through technology, the boundaries of power, and the emphasis on subtle indoctrination.  Any of the later Trek series like Next Generation, Deep Space 9, or Voyager could work for a great crossover.

10-            STARRO, THE CONQUEROR
            Starro is probably the most iconic Justice League villain of all time.  A giant Starfish that travels through space from world to world, raining down tiny versions of himself that attach to people’s faces and turn them into his mindless thralls.  Starro is the kind of high concept villain that’s just so incredibly strange and unique he’s managed to persist with little personality beyond being a conqueror of worlds.  While his odd nature would make him a perfect fit for Star Trek The Original Series or even The Next Generation, I’d love to see him take on Voyager with how well he’d fit into the generally weird but deadly nature of the Delta Quadrant. 

9-            OMAC
            This is one of the few cases in which there are multiple versions of the character I’m discussing.  While I like the initially Kirby take on OMAC I actually think Keith Giffen and Dan Didio’s New 52 era OMAC would be a better fit for the Star Trek mythos, in particular the reboot Star Trek comics.  Giffen’s OMAC had a lot of similarities to the Star Trek reboot in how it used previous iconography as a grab bag of recognizable ideas and visuals.  Where OMAC exceeded it though is in terms of supremely creative storytelling and a completely unrestrained approach to scifi.  OMAC is just the kind of property needed to give the rebooted Star Trek comic a kick in its creative rear. 

8-            DOCTOR STRANGE
            Dr. Strange is a name that more and more people will most likely start to be familiar with as we inch our way closer to his Marvel cinematic universe installment in the fall of next year.  He’s the sorcerer supreme of the Marvel universe but that doesn’t necessarily translate to the same kind of magic we see from Harry Potter or Gandalf.  Strange’s magic is more about traversing weird planes of existence and dealing with extra-dimensional beings that defy any sense of cultural origin.  He’s the perfect fit for the kind of bizarre, big idea reality shifting that Star Trek: The Next Generation would often flirt with.  He’s the perfect guy for the crew to run into while travelling at speeds where thoughts become reality or traversing the Nexus. 

7-            BATMAN BEYOND
            Batman Beyond is probably the most successful case of a DC animated original idea translating to the comic medium.  There had been characters who made the jump previously like Harley Quinn, Mr. Freeze, and Batgirl but Batman Beyond was the first time a whole universe of characters made the transition.  His world is cyberpunk future culled from the same fields as Bladerunner or Marvel’s 2099 comic series.  Despite representing a totally different tract of speculative scifi I still think the world of Batman Beyond would make an interesting sounding board for the Star Trek mythos, especially for a group like the Voyager crew who are often thrown into worlds and situations that are the antithesis of the standard Trek future.  At the very least we’d get to see old Bruce Wayne and the holographic Doctor have a curmudgeonly bastard-off with one another. 

6-            JUDGE DREDD
            Judge Dredd is a British dystopia comic that initially started out as satire but now tends to blur that line more and more.  The basic idea is about an elite police force operating in a dystopian future as judge, jury, and executioner.  The dark future and harsh approach to law and order might seem anti-Star Trek but it fits very well into the dark period of Trek’s in-universe history after the 3rd World War devastated humanity.  That’s always been a fertile setting for Trek stories, even giving us the best Next Generation film First Contact.  At the same time Captain Kirk has fought brutal lawmen before as in the incredibly good original series episode ‘Spectre of the Gun.’  It’d even be interesting to see Judgre Dredd crossover with Star Trek: Enterprise just to see how he’d interact with dedicated security officer Malcolm Reed. 

5-            SHAZAM
            Of all the characters on this list Shazam is the only one who can match Star Trek’s childlike sense of wonder and optimism.  This is especially true of The Original Series era, the time period that Shazam would be most at home in.  Shazam, occasionally known as DC Comic’s Captain Marvel, basically defined silver age comics.  Whacky high concept stories, weird twist situations thrown onto the hero, extended family of fellow heroes, all of that started with Shazam under the stewardship of Otto Binder, who would go on to basically define Superman as he’s widely known today.  Shazam’s blend of whacky ideas approached with earnest passion and joyful optimism would fit perfectly into the world of Star Trek the original series. 

4-            THE NEW GODS
            When Jack Kirby left Marvel comics to work at DC he still wanted to tell big, mythic style stories in the vein of the work he’d done on Marvel’s Thor.  However, DC didn’t really have any characters in that particular vein so Kirby invented them in a group of space based scifi deities known as the New Gods.  The New Gods have been a major fixture of the DC universe since their inception, most prominently through the character of Darkseid, DC’s greatest super villain.  Aside from the big, war of the Gods story stuff inherent to the New Gods’ mythology being a perfect fit for Star Trek there’s also the idea of the New Gods as living iterations of archetypal concepts.  For instance the character of Orion isn’t just a soldier he’s all soldiers that ever were or will be.  It’s a highly complex idea that would fit perfectly into Star Trek’s wheelhouse, especially something like the original series where the crew fought omnipotent beings every other episode. 

3-            THOR
            As much as I love the New Gods I can’t deny that Kirby’s Thor work stands as the best iteration of science fantasy work he ever did.  Thor brings with it a more centered mythos that includes a wide range of additional elements such as other mythological pantheons and characters like Beta Ray Bill.  Really though, the deciding factor is wanting to see any number of various Star Trek characters interacting roaming around Asgard and trying to prove themselves worthy by lifting Thor’s hammer.  This crossover strikes me as another good choice for the rebooted Star Trek continuity as Thor also takes a similar tract of using recognizable elements from Norse mythology without really following their original intent beyond superficial elements. 

2-            HOWARD THE DUCK
            Howard the Duck is often cited as the strangest hero in all of Marvel comics.  Created in the ‘70s as a parody character meant to help Marvel capitalize on the growing popularity of underground comics Howard has been hanging around the Marvel universe for decades since.  Most recently he’s gained a new comic after a surprise cameo appearance in last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy.  His whole deal is being an angsty curmudgeon of a duck stuck in a world he considers ludicrous.  He’s honestly even too weird to gel with any of the Trek shows but his prickly exterior and self deprecating humor make him a great character to just throw into any given situation and seeing him deal with the utopian future of Star Trek is a recipe for hilarity. 

1-            GALACTUS
            And one last Jack Kirby character to top off the list.  Galactus, the devourer of worlds, is the purest expression of Kirby’s genius as a creator I can think of, taking the normally empty but still imaginative ideas that were so emblematic of the silver age and imbuing them with deeper ideas and scope.  Galactus isn’t simply Godlike in his power but in his demeanor as well.  Unlike Thor or Orion Galactus has the physicality and persona of a being truly removed from the realms of morality or even consciousness that govern the rest of us.  He’s a force of nature made flesh to the point that humans feel truly beneath him.  He’s the ultimate challenge making him the perfect foil for any Star Trek crew if not a full collection of Trek races.

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