The Prequel Maneuver: Andy B on Star Trek: Countdown

We’re just days away from the release of Star Trek, the J.J. Abrams reboot of a franchise that’s seen better days. And while all eyes will be on the big screen come Friday, it’s been the comic shops where the story has really started taking shape over the last few months. It’s come in the form of Star Trek: Countdown, the official prequel to the film and a story that features some of the beloved cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Published by IDW, the company also behind the current comic incarnations of Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Terminator, Star Trek: Countdown initially hit shops as a 4 issue mini-series over the first four months of 2009, and was recently released in a trade paperback. In it, we are introduced to the character of Nero, a Romulan miner who attempts to warn his homeworld of Romulas of an impending disaster (think Krypton). The results aren’t good, and Nero soon goes from tragic hero to a merciless villain that comes into contact with Captain Picard, Worf, Geordi, and a resurrected Data (whose android body was destroyed in the final ST:TNG film, Nemesis, but whose memories were implanted into the body of android prototype B4. Yeah, it’s a little confusing). It’s no spoiler to reveal that Nero is the main villain in the new Star Trek movie, which makes the comic his first official step into Starfleet lore.

While Star Trek: Countdown isn’t quite essential reading, I’m guessing my enjoyment of the new film is going to be magnified quite a bit because I’ve read the prequel. The story, written by Mike Johnson and Tim Jones, was developed by Star Trek screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, so you know it’s going to have a similar vibe to what the duo were aiming for with the new film. While I’m sure we’re going to get a healthy dose of backstory to Nero in the movie, it’ll be pretty cool to watch it and have even more insight into the villain.

It was also great seeing the characters from The Next Generation one more time in a story that is actually part of the Trek canon. With the franchise on shaky ground when the last ST: TNG film Nemesis hit theaters in 2002, it really seemed like the characters had been grounded for good, especially with the reboot hitting theaters. But the fact that Picard, Data, and a few other stalwarts are a part of the new Star Trek world, even if its comic book form, should make even the most jaded trekkers smile.

IDW has been doing an excellent job with their licensed properties (pick up G.I. Joe now). The stories are well-written and compelling, and in the case of Star Trek: Countdown, they’ve created the perfect lead-in to what is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. Beam it up and check it out.

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