Thursday, October 21, 2010

Captain's Log: Jellico

The Star Trek Next Generation two-parter Chain of Command is a fan favorite for many reasons. Many fans love it for the amazing acting performance by Patrick Stewart. Some fans love it for the deep story and exciting set pieces. Everybody loves it for giving trekkies one of the most quoted lines in the entire series: "There... are... four... lights!!!" Me, I love it for Ronny Cox's portrayal of Captain Edward Jellico. I don't care what anybody says, Jellico is awesome. After years and years spent being forgotten, the character finally gets to star in his own comic book one-shot.

Star Trek Captain's Log: Jellico is something of a prequel to the game Chain of Command, where Picard is sent on a secret mission to infiltrate the Cardassians while Jellico takes over command. The story here takes place on the Cairo and details a showdown between him and a Cardassian ship, and ends with him getting the information that sets in motion the plot of Chain of Command. However, if you've never seen that episode (or even if you just don't have it memorized like I do), don't worry since this is a very good stand alone issue. Even if you don't know who Jellico is (and, to be sure, nobody knows who any of these other characters are), it's still a darn good story that holds up on its own.

Writer Keith R.A. DeCandido knows Star Trek. He captures the feel of the Next Generation perfectly, and he completely nails Jellico's personality, which is something I was nervous about going into it. Jellico should be an asshole, of course, but he also should shown to be an effective captain who gets things done. Don't believe what Riker said about Jellico. He was being a whiny little bitch in Chain of Command. Jellico is the man. DeCandido did a great job of balancing all aspects of this character's complicated personality. Also, he's just a wonderful writer who seems perfectly suited for this kind of technical, military writing. There was some Trek jargon here and there, but none of it was used as a deus ex machina to solve plot problems. This story was fully thoughtout and brilliantly told from start to finish.

I wasn't a huge fan of the art style, however. I'm not sure what tools artist J.K. Woodward was using, but the end result looks a little bit like water colors. The man (or woman?) is obviously very talented, but I'm not really a fan of painted comic books, and these paints looked a little too flat and the colors were too muted. In the close ups, the details and likenesses of the characters were extraordinary, but for the medium and long shots, they just looked like stick figures. Some of the space battles, however, looked fantastic. So I didn't love the artistic design of the book, but I got used to it as the story went along, and it was never so off-putting that I found it to be a deal breaker.

This stand-alone, one shot comic book issue about captain Edward Jellico was one of the best Star Trek comics I've read in a long time, and that is saying a lot because IDW's current line of Trek books have (almost) all been fantastic. Maybe it's because DeCandido is such a wonderful storyteller, or maybe it's because Jellico is such an interesting yet underused character, but I can definitely recommend this issue for anybody who loves Star Trek, whether you remember Jellico or not. I liked it.


Justin Garrett Blum said...

A Jellico one-shot? Awesome! I need to read this.

Donald said...

That was my reaction when I saw it listed on Diamond Comics shipping page. But when I ran over to my local shop (that is actually within walking distance), they didn't have it. This is the kind of place that when you can't find something, they give you shit for not having asked for it ahead of time. I guess they figured nobody would want it? Pffft.

So I had to go to my other local comic shop (also within walking distance), and they had it.

Justin Garrett Blum said...

Man, why are, like, 90% of comic book store owners so shitty? As if we're all reading the previews three months in advance.

Donald said...

This store just opened and I really, really wanted to love it... but I dunno. The guys who run it are really nice and really nerdy, but it's just not very well run. They never get the books on the racks on time and the never seem to have what I'm looking for.

Also, because they just opened and had an extremely limited back issue collection, I offered to sell them some comics if they were interested. I said I would type up a complete list and let them look through it. But the guy said they'd buy anything, but they'd only pay a nickle per comic. That really offended me. I wouldn't even sell my comics that are worth a penny to that guy.

Justin Garrett Blum said...

A nickle a comic? Jeeze. Even if they dropped them directly into a quarter bin, they'd still be making four times what they paid. Cheapskates.

I wonder if it's even possible to run a reasonably profitable comic book shop. I used to think not, because of all of the crappy places that went out of business on Long Island when I was growing up. But I don't know...that place in Charlottesville seemed to do pretty well, and the place I went to when I was in Arkansas actually expanded the store while I was there.