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Comic Review: Star Trek – Gold Key Archives, Volume 1
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Star Trek
Star Trek: Gold Key Archives, Volume 1
Hardcover | Kindle
Story by Dick Wood
Art by Nevio Zaccara and Alberto Giolitti
IDW Publishing
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Cover Price: $29.99

The first Star Trek comics began publication under the Poughkeepsie, NY-based Gold Key Comics (which at one point or another in time held the comic license to nearly every popular show on television, from The Avengers to Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) in July 1967, three months after the television show’s debut season ended. Since it was never a ratings bonanza, Star Trek had to rely on support from fans and critics in order to stay on the air and the exploitation of the property in multi-media aided the cause immeasurably.

The Gold Key comic proved to be a hit with readers, ultimately running for 61 issues – a 62nd issue was planned but went unpublished – and helping to establish Star Trek as a viable property outside of the cathode ray box. Subsequent titles in the franchise would be released by Marvel, DC, and currently IDW Publishing. In Star Trek: Gold Key Archives Volume 1, IDW, which has owned the Trek comics license since November 2006, reprints the first six issues of the Gold Key run that were released from July 1967 to December 1969 and presents them in a single full-color hardcover volume, complete with the original photo covers.

Free from the budgetary constraints of late 1960’s network television, the voyages of the starship Enterprise could be as grandiose and weird as humanly possible in the plotting of writer Dick Wood and the artwork of Nevio Zaccara and Alberto Giolitti without the hindrance of continuity errors and visible flaws in the low-grade visual effects.

The six stories presented here are “The Planet of No Return” (#1, July 1967), “The Devil’s Isle of Space” (#2, March 1968), “Invasion of the City Builders” (#3, December 1968), “The Peril of Planet Quick Change” (#4, June 1969), “The Ghost Planet” (#5, September 1969), and “When Planets Collide” (#6, December 1969). Comic book writer, artist, editor, and critic Tony Isabella provides this volume with a heartfelt introduction.

Wood’s storytelling is strictly straightforward pulp sci-fi, but it works splendidly while staying true to the show’s surreal, humanistic tone and the characteristics of its core established personalities. Giolitti, who also drew an adaptation of King Kong for Gold Key, reportedly had never watched an episode of Star Trek prior to accepting the comic assignment. He had to work from reference photos of the show’s cast. Both he and Zaccara were natives of Italy and their jazzy artistic style recalls the Italian fumettis of the 1950s and 1960s, which feels well suited to a comic book tie-in for a show whose tone and atmosphere often teetered on the brink of camp hilarity.

Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy encounter all manner of alien creatures, hideous beasts, and unexplainable phenomenon in these six fantastic voyages across the universe and beyond the limits of the imagination. They journey to desolate planets and amazing cities of the future, all beautifully rendered by Zaccara and Giolitti in eye-popping color reproduced in all of its garish, period-appropriate splendor. The Gold Key comics made a wonderful companion to the live-action series and are rightly deserved of the praise they received for helping to keep interest in Star Trek alive long after the show’s unfortunate cancellation.

Star Trek: Gold Key Archives Volume 1 is ideal reading for any hardcore Trekker or casual admirer of 1960’s sci-fi comic books. Lovingly restored to how they must have appeared the day they went on sale, these stories provide a breeze, retro-flavored rollercoaster ride of adventure and intergalactic mystery. I look forward to future volumes in this series from IDW Publishing.

Star Trek

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