Review: Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War trade paperback (IDW/DC Comics)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Some time ago I read the original Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation crossovers with the X-Men. Those were fairly ill fits; though I haven't read it, I imagine Star Trek/Planet of the Apes makes considerable more sense than Wolverine on the bridge of the Enterprise. But being primarily a DC Comics reader, the incompatibility of Star Trek and superheroes makes me no less eager for DC to get their own turn.

I'd be happy to see Superman sitting in Captain Kirk's chair, but I recognize there's not much to justify it; the closest we might come to sense is indeed what we have here from DC and IDW, Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War, and even this of course stretches things a bit. (I haven't read Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes and I'm overdue to do so.)

[Review contains spoilers]

The hook here, from my perspective, is not necessarily (or at least not solely) that the Star Trek and Green Lantern franchises both involve space and aliens, since Hal Jordan with a glowing space ring still looks fairly out of place on a Federation starship. Rather, what makes this all more logical, so to speak, are the surface similarities between Jordan and Captain James Kirk -- both leaders, but also both are ladies men and given to acting impetuously.

But setting them side by side actually upsets some of these surface similarities. Kirk here, especially Trek regular series writer Mike Johnson's Chris Pine-Kirk at the post-Star Trek Into Darkness point in his career, is far less quick to act than Jordan, choosing at one point to retreat rather than to escalate hostilities with the Klingons.

Spectrum War is perfectly functional, accomplishing its goals simply by being a Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover. Jordan captains the Enterprise (for far too few panels), members of the Enterprise become various-hued Lanterns, and Spock becomes the all-powerful White Lantern. It's also fun to see the nuTrek movie cast here in what I believe is their first inter-company crossover, and Johnson uses well their specific lore like the destruction of Vulcan.

Johnson, as a Trek writer, has the voices of the Enterprise crew right, and gets Hal Jordan and Sinestro spot on, too, even if characters like Star Sapphire Carol Ferris and Green Lantern John Stewart fade to the background too much. That the Lanterns remain in the Star Trek universe begs for a sequel, and it's just too bad we didn't see Hal Jordan in a Green Lantern/Starfleet amalgam uniform in the end.

And this is where, without expecting a Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover to be more than it is, I didn't necessarily think the book reached far enough. The other Lanterns don't much interact with the Enterprise besides Jordan (any hope for Spock taking down Guy Gardner with a "one punch" neck pinch will be dashed).

Though Johnson digs deep for villains in using Trek's Romulan Decius and Klingon Chang, the use of Chang especially lacks nuance given the character's central role in Star Trek VI. Spectrum War never explores why Uhura, Chekov, and McCoy get their specific rings necessarily, nor does it delve into, for instance, the darker side of McCoy's indigo "compassion" ring. Intuitively we understand that Spock getting all the rings and becoming the White Lantern has to do with the Vulcan control of emotion, but similarly that all goes mostly unremarked on in the book's epilogue.

Again, Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War is fine for what it is, and accomplishes the goal of our being able to say James Kirk and Hal Jordan jabbed at each other about each being captains. I say a Superman/Trek crossover might be too outlandish, but now that I think about it, the Enterprise and the Justice League versus Darkseid has a certain ring to it. Use the nuTrek Enterprise and the DC movie universe League and maybe that'd be a "nu-crossover" worth reading.
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  1. Oh, that was Jordan? For some reason I've been thinking it was Kyle.

    1. Kyle's part in this book is problematic.

  2. This crossover made me want geek out, imagining the Green Lantern Corps fighting the Borg. Assimilation of a Green Lantern ring (or battery) would be impossible since, I presume, will power is the antithesis to the Borg collective. But assimilation of an Orange Lantern? They operate quite similar....

    1. Exactly. Parallax Hal Jordan versus the Guardian of Forever. Etc., etc. This was satisfactory, but it wasn't the franchise-wide match-up we might have dreamed of.

  3. This was easy to geek out over. It was a callback to the Geoff Johns era, and a good gloss over the new Star Trek era, too. It didn't have to do anything overly special.

  4. I thought that this was a decent crossover, but I'm starting to get really sick of the other "Spectrum" Lanterns having to show up in every Green Lantern story. Enough, already! What hath Geoff Johns wrought?

  5. In reality, I think this crossover represents a non cannon "part 9" of Blackest Night.