|"Days of the Future Past," coming to the screen - in some fashion - in 2014.|
Byrne remained somewhat unknown to me until my friend Mike got me into Fantastic Four, which, at that time (1983-ish) was undergoing one of its most spirited runs with Byrne as the writer/ artist.
|With some recent casting chatter about a new FF movie, I once again renew my lonely crusade: why anyone would make a FF movie that is not a panel-for-panel recreation of this issue is beyond me. It would also make the greatest pilot episode of any ongoing super-series, ever. (If done right.)|
Outside of drawing a few entries for Who's Who,
Byrne never produced any Trek work in his long career, despite being a fan since the show's original run in the 60s.
He initially had no interest in doing Trek comics, which we'll get to momentarily. But had Whitman (the late-stage name of Gold Key Comics, before it folded) not canceled it, the last issue of Star Trek would have featured two pivotal characters named Byrne and Cockrum.
When asked about the beginning of his involvement with Trek comics, he had this to say:
"I was at first strongly resistant, until Chris Ryall, the head honcho there, came up with something that could be relatively smooth sailing, the single Romulans issue for their Alien Spotlight miniseries. That allowed me to try a toe in the water, and from there expand my involvement as those waters showed themselves set for smooth sailing."
This story eventually was collected with other stories
for a TPB entitled Romulans: Pawns of War. In the words of Jack Kirby, "it's great; buy it!" (Actually, he said, "Don't ask, just buy it." Included therein is a retelling of "Balance of Terror" from the Romulan perspective. The art is gorgeous, the Trekkiness is spot-on, and the story just might be the best Romulan storyline this side of TNG's "Unification."
Next we come to a truly welcome addition to the Trekverse:
which picks up where TOS "Assignment: Earth" left off. I've always loved that episode and the Gary Seven concept in general. Roddenberry seemed to excel in developing great ideas for tv shows that never went anywhere (Trek being the notable exception) and that episode (a "back-door pilot," a term which probably means something else altogether these days) failed to ignite network interest in an ongoing series.
Issue two features Seven and Roberta Lincoln "behind the scenes" of another TOS episode "Tomorrow Is Yesterday."
Therein, he offers a solution to a problem that always bothered JB:
"'The Naked Time' was apparently conceived as the first part of two, the second being 'Tomorrow Is Yesterday.' It's worth nothing that the application of time travel here is the same as the later episode, in that doubling back on oneself some erases the previous timeline. So Kirk and Spock, in 'The Naked Time' express no concern that they have duplicated themselves, and there are now TWO Enterprises zipping around the galaxy. This mirrors the conclusion of "Yesterday," in which the Enterprise going FURTHER back and then "passing thru" the same period somehow erases the events that were seen previously.
"(In issue 2) you will catch me in my most anal fanboy mode, as I did a crossover with 'Tomorrow Is Yesterday,' just to explain away, at least to my own satisfaction, the inconsistencies in the way time travel was handled.
"(As mentioned above) the resolution as presented in the episode doesn't really explain why (Captain John) Christopher and the security guard would LOSE their memories. (This) seems to work of an assumption that going back in one's own timeline and then moving forward normally, somehow ERASES the previous events."
Byrne's solution is novel, but you'll have to read the issue itself to see for yourself.
For my money, his best Trek work was produced for Crew:
which follows the pre-"The Cage" adventures of the unnamed, intellectual, problem-solving bad-ass from played by Majel Barrett for Trek's first pilot.
It includes a nice callback/ expansion of one of the storylines in Assignment: Earth and this wonderful title page:
|I now want to see an episode of Ghost Hunters that explores the possibility that what we think of as ghosts are simply alien lifeforms in a variant state of "phase."|
Every story in this collection feels more Trek-like than more than a couple of the films. ("Ghosts" in particular would have been a helluva TOS episode.) It's a shame that Bad Robot (the production company in charge of the new Trek movies) has put the kibosh on any stories that don't feature the new cast at IDW. I don't think any comics creator has grokked Trek the way Byrne obviously does, and he has no interest in doing any stories with the new cast. (Which is also too bad.)
So, it looks like the last Trek he produced will be the last we'll see from him:
which has to be one of the greatest missed opportunities for Trek spin-offs I've yet seen. How I wish someone had thought to put something like this together as a mini-series in the 70s or 80s. On tv, I mean, with DeForest Kelley. But, as with "Assignment Earth," I'm happy to see it gotten round to here and with Byrne in the driver's seat.
Byrne discusses the series here. It's worth picking up, for the casual Trek or Byrne fan alike. For the more seasoned vet of either's work, it's especially delightful.