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AICN EXCLUSIVE!! The Next Five Pages Of The STAR TREK Prequel/Sequel COUNTDOWN!! Plus Herc’s Read Issue Two!!

I am – Hercules!!
New clues regarding J.J. Abrams’s new “Star Trek” movie continue to emerge with the publication of Star Trek: Countdown, an IDW funnybook (billed as an official prequel to the Abrams movie) which swells my withered Trekkie heart. Spoilers ahead. Highly nuanced, fast-moving and continuity-embracing, “Countdown” is a fabulous read scripted by two guys named Mike Johnson & Tim Jones from a story by “Trek” screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. (Italian David Messina is the artist, and proves adept at capturing a very old Leonard Nimoy and very hot young Romulan women; I encourage Trekkies and Trekkers of all stripes to seek this publication out.) A bullet-point recap of issue one (if you've already read it, feel free to skip all the black text): * The tale is set decades after the events of “Star Trek: Nemesis.” * A white-haired Spock is still living on Romulus, his home for the last four decades. * Thanks in part to Spock’s efforts, there is now a far kinder, gentler Romulus than we remember. “Curiosity, tolerance and diplomacy ceased to be forbidden words in the empire,” notes Spock. * Spock is no longer a covert operative. For five years he has served openly as the Federation’s ambassador to the empire. We learn that Vulcan, too, has established an embassy on Romulus, headed by an unseen fellow named Sular. * In the comic Spock is something of a Jor-El figure, determined to avert a unprecedented natural disaster that threatens to obliterate Romulus and its entire star empire. Spock implores the Romulan senate to seek out the more technically advanced Vulcans; combining Romulan and Vulcan resources, Spock believes, can prevent horrifying cataclysm if they act quickly. But the old-guard Romulan leaders remain suspicious of Spock and the Vulcans, and stall a remedy. * Having had a first-hand encounter with the deadly galaxy-gobbling anomaly, the Romulan Nero (long presumed to be the movie’s villain) is depicted in the comic as Spock’s staunchest ally. He is not a soldier but a selfless and heroic spacefaring miner and guild leader, a caring family man who finds himself risking everything to save his home, wife and unborn son. He is not a Nero content to fiddle as Romulus burns, and his face does not yet bear frightening tattoos. * Remans, first introduced in the terrible “Nemesis” six years ago, appear late in the first issue, and I am encouraged by Kurtzman & Orci’s willingness to embrace elements from even the most disreputable corners of the sprawling Trek franchise. The final page of the first issue sees the arrival of the decades-beyond-“Nemesis” version of U.S.S. Enterprise, commanded by Captain Data, who comes to Spock and Nero’s rescue. It's not much of a leap to speculate that things go very badly with the galaxy-eater. Nero’s family and world, one imagines, will be wiped from existence and Nero will be compelled to travel back in time, to an era just before Jim Kirk’s birth, to set things right. And, of course, one can gather that Nero's attack on a ship carrying Jim Kirk's pop sets off a mammoth butterfly effect. Which is why, in the trailers, Chris Pike’s Earth-built Enterprise looks like the Enterprise-F and Chekhov now outranks Kirk. The cover and first five pages of issue two:

On page seven of issue two, Nero will gaze upon the visage of another key figure of the Kirk-Spock era. On page 10 Spock points out he hasn’t seen Data since the android’s demise in “Nemesis.” On page 16 we learn that Data is not the only “Next Generation” icon to have survived into this “Next Next Generation” era. (One wonders how much of this backstory, in any, will be referenced in the movie.) Odd that this promotional tie-in funnybook fills me so with so much confidence for the movie, but dang me if it doesn't. J.J. Abrams says he was not a “Trek” fan before coming aboard the project, and I was frankly concerned that his overaching desire to bring “Trek” to a wider audience might supercede any reverence his Trekkier collaborators might have brought to the table. Subsequent to reading these first two issues of “Countdown,” I find myself far less troubled. Say what you will about the failings of the studio-hammered “Transformers” script; I feel now that the Kurtzman-Orci team supplies geekitude sufficient enough to keep the new movie honest. Issue two of “Star Trek: Countdown” goes on sale Tuesday. Buy it.

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