Accomplished comic book writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly ("Star Trek: Year Five," "Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty") are relishing their dream job of crafting compelling stories within the legendary sci-fi franchise for IDW Publishing's new "Star Trek" series starring "Deep Space Nine's" Commander Benjamin Lafayette Sisko.
Joining the veteran pair on this creative "Star Trek" odyssey is artist Ramon Rosanas (Marvel's "Star Wars,") and colorist Lee Loughridge ("The Batman Chronicles," "Deadly Class") in a planet-hopping mystery to discover why the cosmic gods are being murdered.
Here’s the official synopsis:
"It's Stardate 2378, and Benjamin Sisko has finally returned from the Bajoran Wormhole omnipotent. But his godhood is failing with every minute. Sent by the Prophets on a mission to the deepest parts of space aboard the U.S.S. Theseus, he witnesses the unthinkable: Someone is killing the gods. And only Sisko and his motley crew of Starfleet members from every era of 'Trek' can stop them."
"Star Trek #1" landed on Oct. 26 and the second issue of this remastered "Star Trek" project featuring familiar characters pulled from all corners of the canon arrived today, Nov. 30, as "Star Trek: #2." Space.com chatted at length with its eager architects, Lanzing and Kelly, about their bold plans moving forward at warp speed and what inspired them to tackle this Sisko-centric series from IDW.
"We are the nerds who were playing Star Trek role playing games in our living rooms ten years ago and the kids who grew up and used it to bond with our parents," Lanzing tells Space.com. "'Star Trek' is a continuous element in both of our lives. It helped form our friendship. It's helped connect to our friends and family. A lot of people responded well to "Star Trek: Year Five," and now seeing the response to the new launch, we’re extremely lucky to be here. Not a lot of people get to touch this IP, especially not in comics. It’s a very small group, so getting the chance to come in on it is a real privilege. We just need to do right by "Star Trek" and do the work that we as fans would want to see. Otherwise we’d bury ourselves under pressure."
"Deep Space Nine" holds a special place in both of the writers' hearts and they share a deep affinity for the Benjamin Sisko character. This was the only open story territory that gave them enough runway to do something with and was exactly what they hoped to do for nostalgia's sake, which was to bring Sisko back out of the wormhole and throw him into his next big adventure. If you're as intrigued by the series as we are, check out our guide to the best Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes of all time.
"Sisko is the captain who doesn’t have his own show or his own feature film," Lanzing explained. "Avery Brooks seems like he has no intention of ever returning to the character. But his character specifically says he will return, in part because Avery Brooks himself was unhappy with the idea that the first Black captain was going to leave his son and disappear into the wormhole and become an absentee father. So he made them add a line that he was coming back. Then he never came back and so there's this giant question mark of what’s up with Sisko."
Lanzing and Kelly are approaching this project with a fan-first attitude, and their unbridled enthusiasm for the material is what people are most excited about.
"We just have to keep telling stories that continue to bring us passion," Kelly said. "'Star Trek' is this universal language we can all love and adore and take something out of. But if we start thinking of ourselves as bigger than that I think we'd collapse under the responsibility and legacy we’re now so privileged to be playing a part in."
Relating to this rebooted flagship series that finds Sisko returning as a god and gathering a legacy crew borrowed from the "Star Trek" universe, the writing duo has put a fresh wrapping on a popular fan-favorite character. Lanzing explains the idea:
"We turned in a three-page document for 'Star Trek' and we came in with a very simple phrase, of 'Someone is killing the gods.' Within 'Star Trek' that might feel like an odd way to pivot in. In talking about 'Star Trek' and what made it specifically not 'Star Wars' or 'Battlestar Galactica' is that it plays with species that exist far beyond our technological level. Species that don’t operate the way that we do, that have the technological equivalent of magic. Those things are never threatened in 'Star Trek.' They're always at the top of the food chain and if those start getting taken out, that means you can put in our favorite captain, a character we knew we wanted to center this book around … Benjamin Sisko, the Emissary of the Prophets."
Their elevator pitch was, "Let’s do an 'Avengers' with 'Star Trek,'" and pull characters from different eras by setting it in a time where most of these characters were alive. It's a notion that alludes back to Marvel's "Original Sin" and "Thor: The God Butcher."
"I wouldn’t say we were necessarily riffing off any of those iconic series, however, we are fans of comics first and foremost and we love the power of the crossover," Kelly added. "And "Star Trek" is really the first shared universe in modern big-budget storytelling. With our sister book, 'Star Trek: Defiant,' which launches next year, there’s nothing more exciting than having them slam into each other."
Ramon Rosanas' illuminating, retro-cool artwork truly captures the authentic "Star Trek" tone and greatly enhances Lanzing and Kelly's carefully composed storyline.
"Art in 'Star Trek' comics has had a certain look for a very long time and there’s only a few artists who’ve done it and done it successfully," Lanzing notes. "When editor Heather Antos came in, her immediate goal was to try to take the "Star Trek" art style and push it well beyond what people were used to, and to open up a space for different kinds of comics artists to come in and play.
"Up until now, there’s been a push to make the art feel like the actors, the likenesses. But at any given time we should see Benjamin Sisko, not just Avery Brooks. Ramon is great at both. He really is a remarkable artist and he’s a lot more understated than people would think. Then Lee Loughridge is a colorist we’ve wanted to work with for ages. He’s got a great eye for it and pushes stuff forward."
Kelly feels that Loughridge's veteran contributions are essential for the book’s ultimate success.
"Lee fills in and creates a lot of texture and depth to Ramon’s pencils," he noted. "Ramon is not hyper-focused on detail in terms of likenesses, which lets Lee play, which is incredibly important to trust your artist. Especially when you think of 'The Original Series,' which was a very colorful show. They were constantly slamming things with purple lights and hot green."
Moving forward into the second issue and beyond, two temporary artists take over for series illustrator Rosanas, each one with a slightly different take on the style.
"Ramon is taking issues #2 and #3 off as he's doing a big crossover for #4, #5, and #6 later in the run," said Lanzing. "We have two one-off issues, #2 which takes readers deep into Klingon territory, and #3 is our Q issue. Knowing those were going to be two different tones, we brought in other artists to try some different stuff. Oleg Chudakov is going to be doing #2. He's a new Russian artist and much more expressive so you'll see that idea of pushing likeness before we lose the thread. Then we’ve got Joe Eisma, who did 'Morning Glories,' who’s an amazing artist and great at acting coming in to do Q before we bring back Ramon and settle into that tone."
Lanzing and Kelly are having a blast on this "Star Trek" title and the thrill is evident.
"We've been playing 'Star Trek' as a role-playing game for years so really one of the first jobs you have when thinking about 'Star Trek' is what pieces are on the table," Kelly adds. "Sometimes it's important to come in and build new things, but the danger can be getting so into the weeds that it can start to edge into fan fiction. We need to make sure our characters are earning it and everything is diegetic to the universe and the reality of 'Star Trek.'"
IDW Publishing's "Star Trek #2" lands on Earth on Nov. 30, 2022.
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Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.