COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness

Wil Avitt
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Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness is a four issue miniseries that acts as a prequel to the new film Star Trek Into Darkness. The name is reminiscent of the title of the comic book prequel to the 2009 film, Star Trek: Countdown. Countdown to Darkness was written by Mike Johnson, writer of the original Countdown as well as the limited series Nero and the ongoing Star Trek monthly comic book, which is set in the JJ Abrams timeline, and was illustrated by David Messina, the artist on Countdown and Nero. Countdown to Darkness is a very interesting story and, with what little we know of the plot to Star Trek Into Darkness, does seem to set the movie up in the sense that you want to find out what happens next. It isn't "To Be Continued" so much as it definitely hints at another story, the film's story.

Countdown to Darkness follows the Enterprise on a boring survey mission of a pre-warp (thus off-limits via the Prime Directive) planet. In orbit, they detect an advanced form of energy coming from the planet and Kirk's decides to investigate, against the vigorous protests of Mr. Spock. While en route to the planet's surface in a shuttlecraft (the energy signature is screwing with the transporters), the landing party is attacked by the surface population and the shuttle crashes. The landing party is soon "captured" by the leader of the surface population, Captain Robert April.

April explains that it wasn't his tribe that shot Kirk's shuttle down, but the controlling race on the planet and that April's followers are the resistance. The plot that unfolds is very similar to the original series episode "A Private Little War". The Klingons have been arming the dominant race and April, with the assistance of a Bajoran female smuggler named Mudd, has been doing his best to arm the resistance with comparable weaponry. The difference here is, where Kirk resolved to only arm the resistance in "A Private Little War" with exactly the same weapons the Klingons were giving to the opposition, April has gone mad and is intent on wiping the Klingons out, even to the point where he tries to commandeer the Enterprise and start an all out war with the Klingons. Kirk and Spock manage to regain control of the Enterprise and escape before a battle with the Klingons can ensue, and April is locked away safely in the brig, but April assures Kirk that he has allies and that this is not over. The series ends with a mysterious figure named John Harrison breaking into the Starfleet Archives in London.

Star Trek Into Darkness Plot Deductions

I sherlocked the crap out of this story and I believe I've pieced together a fairly good plot synopsis of the movie. If you don't want to know anything, don't read any further.

Peter Weller, whose character name has yet been unannounced, will be playing Robert April.

Benedict Cumberbatch's John Harrison will be revealed to have been April's former First Officer, whom April said he trusted implicitly and who reported April as Killed in Action when April decided to stay on the planet. Now, this could be wrong. Harrison is certainly the ally April warns Kirk about, but April had been missing for 20 years. Cumberbatch is a bit young to have been April's First Officer 20 years ago. Now, he may have some fountain of youth serum that has kept him young and given him advanced strength, which he does seem to have in the trailers. However, Admiral Pike is kind of coy concerning April at the end of the prequel and orders Kirk to forget about April once he turns him over to Starfleet and that any and all information concerning April is to be considered classified. It's possible that Pike may have been April's First Officer, which would make for a very interesting story point.

John Harrison wages an attack on Starfleet and liberates Captain April from a Starfleet prison. Presumably, the two steal a starship with the intentions of waging war on the Klingons for the atrocities they've commited back on the planet. Obviously, Kirk must stop April and Harrison and will most probably have to end up fighting the Klingons as well.

That's what I've put together. All in all, Countdown to Darkness has done its job very well, as I am on the edge of my seat for Star Trek Into Darkness, which hits theaters and IMAX 3-D on May 17. See you then.