Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: The Origin of Saavik!

The Origin of Saavik is issue #7 from August 1984 in the DC Comics Star Trek series.  It was written by Mike W. Barr with art by Eduardo Barreto and Ricardo Villagran.  Michele Wolfman was the colourist. This is the first volume in a two-part story.  It is subtitled "Pon Far!" (incorrectly spelled, it should be Pon Farr).  The second part is called "Plak Tow!"
The story takes place sometime between Star Trek II and Star Trek III.  We are introduced to a very emotional Saavik who is having difficulty controlling her emotions.  Kirk's son David rendezvous with the Enterprise.  Carol Marcus is back at Regula I overseeing repairs to the station after Khan's attack.  At a banquet in David's honour, Kirk makes a very uncharacteristically inappropriate toast ("...Long life to our honoured guest and his friends... and confusion to our enemies, the Klingons and the Romulans!").
Saavik has an outburst of emotion and storms out of the banquet hall.  Kirk and McCoy follow and McCoy explains that he has suspected Saavik might be in the early stages of Pon Farr.  Reluctantly, Saavik explains to the captain and doctor that both male and female Vulcans must go through the Pon Farr.  She then tells the story of how she came to know Spock.
A landing party commanded by Spock, before Kirk came to captain the Enterprise, discovered an abandoned Romulan base.  The only living inhabitant was a a young Vulcan-Romulan girl: Saavik.  She speculates that her "half-breed heritage" may have made her more tenacious and able to survive on her own while her Romulan peers could not.
This is the first time that it's explicitly stated that Saavik is half Vulcan and half Romulan.  Some fans will remember a brief line that McCoy has in Star Trek II.  He says to Kirk after Saavik leaves the turbolift: "Wonderful stuff that Romulan ale."  In the script itself, Saavik was identified as half Vulcan and half Romulan but the scenes where that was discussed were extracted.
Saavik tells Kirk and McCoy that Spock took her to Vulcan to live with his parents, Sarek and Amanda. She was then bonded to a Vulcan boy named Xon (Xon was a Vulcan character who was to appear in Star Trek: Phase II when Leonard Nimoy declined to return for the planned spin-off series).  Saavik says that in her time on Vulcan she began to love and long for Spock.  Saavik requests that she be allowed to leave for Vulcan but Kirk insists on taking her there himself.  This delays the scheduled rendezvous with the USS Grissom which was to take David back to the Genesis planet.
Once on Vulcan, (which is incorrectly depicted as having several moons), Sarek tells Saavik that Xon is off world on a secret mission for his people.  He will not reveal Xon's location but hints that the information might be found in his computer.  He then leaves the room allowing Saavik to locate Xon.  Sarek then speaks with Amanda who begs him to ask Kirk about Spock's katra.  He agrees that he will but Saavik has used the computer to beam to an orbiting ship and leave to seek Xon on her own and Kirk will not wait to speak with Sarek.  He immediately beams to the Enterprise and begins pursuit of Saavik.
The Enterprise follows Saavik to the energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy. Saavik, in the throws of the Plak Tow (blood fever) fires phasers at the Enterprise demanding that they tell her where Xon is.  The issue then ends, to be continued in "Plak Tow!"
I like the idea of a connecting story between Star Trek II and III but I think this one has a few problems.  Kirk has a lot of very uncharacteristic dialogue.  It also seems pretty clear in the films that the Enterprise heads straight home to Earth for repairs after Spock's death.  Sarek then immediately seeks out Kirk on Earth.  I find it difficult to imagine Sarek would wait on Vulcan for an appropriate time to discuss his son's katra.
I think the flashback sequence where Spock finds a young Saavik, and has his family more or less adopt her, is quite strong.  The artists do a good job of recreating the Starfleet uniforms seen in "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before."  For the rest of the art, the panels are dynamically drawn.  The colour is, of course, lacking due to the costs of printing a wider range of colours at the time.  The character likenesses are not especially strong (except for Scotty and Sulu) but you can definitely tell who everyone is and they serve the story well.
Saavik is a unique character in several ways.  She's the first Vulcan female Starfleet officer we see on screen, she's the first Vulcan female to have a name beginning with a letter other than 'T' and she's the first Vulcan-Romulan hybrid ever seen or mentioned in Star Trek.  Her hybrid heritage makes for an interesting inner conflict which could be explored in much more depth.  Her passionate Romulan side allows her to have feelings for David Marcus, Kirk and Spock either in deleted scenes from Star Trek II or in earlier drafts of the script.  The relationship between Saavik and David is especially interesting to me.  It explains this somewhat strange publicity photo.

To read my review of Part Two, click here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Leonard Nimoy's Convention Retirement

Last weekend in Chicago, 80 year-old Leonard Nimoy bade audiences a fond farewell as he retired from Star Trek convention appearances.  This Chicago convention celebrated the 45th anniversary of Star Trek.

Mr. Nimoy spoke to fans for over an hour about his early family life, his acting career, photography and Star Trek.  It was an emotional experience not only for the audience but for Nimoy as well.

He was accompanied by his family and many members of his Trek family.  The cast of the J.J. Abrams Star Trek appeared in a video to wish him well.  He was presented with a celebratory cake which he shared with fans as they waited in line for his autograph.

I wish I could have been present for this event but I feel fortunate to have met Mr. Nimoy at two previous conventions.  I'm hoping this retirement won't be permanent and that we'll see him back for the 50th anniversary in 2016.

If there's anyone who can stand as a representative of the Star Trek franchise it is Leonard Nimoy.  He embodies the spirit of Trek in all he has done.  I wish him peace and long life.