Star Trek: The Mirror Universe Saga trade paperback

DC Comics (June 1991)

collects Star Trek issues #9-19 (December 1984-July, 1985)

WRITER: Mike W. Barr

PENCILER: Tom Sutton

INKER; Ricardo Villagran

COLORIST: Michele Wolfman

LETTERER: John Costanza

These issues of DC’s first series of Star Trek comics ran into a slight problem. They came out around the time of Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, in which the ending would lead right into the beginning of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, a whole two years to wait to resolve the events of the previous movie. And yet somehow the writers of the comic, Mike Barr for this story (he was also one of the editors according to comics.org), had to keep the adventures of the crew going without interfering with the next movie. Admittedly they may not have been as successful in hindsight, but these are the only comics I have from this period so I could be wrong. Crafting a good story on the other hand was a success so take the victory you can on this one.

The “Mirror Universe” dates back to the classic Star Trek episode “Mirror Mirror”, in which a transporter accident switches Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura with their counterparts in a reverse dimension, where things are similar but not exact. In this universe the Federation is replaced with an Empire and are very cruel. This allowed the other actors (although Spock is still mostly Spock, just with a nasty streak) a chance to do something a bit different and the episode is a favorite among fans. There’s also a running gag in sci-fi fan circles that Mirror Spock’s goatee has become a symbol for evil universe counterparts.

I don’t have the individual issues but I did get this trade collection for the entire eight chapter story, originally subtitled “New Frontiers”. At the end of the article I’ll link to the individual reviews I did of each issue for my other site. This is an overview of the arc and a review of the trade collection.

Taking place just after the events of Star Trek III, the crew are still on Vulcan, facing charges for going to the forbidden planet Genesis to save their friend. With only the stolen Klingon bird of prey for transport, our heroes make the voyage back to Earth while Spock remains on Vulcan to recover. Meanwhile, the mirror universe version of Kirk is working to invade the regular universe and take down the Federation as well as get revenge on his good guy counterpart. Kirk and company must recover the Excelsior and use it to stop the mirror invasion and to stop the Empire from getting the secrets of the Genesis device, which they’ll surely use as a weapon.

At the time DC had the license to the actor’s likenesses, and the art overall is quite good. When removed from the circumstances of working off a mild but important cliffhanger not resolved until the next movie the writer does the best he can with what he has. The comics aren’t canon anyway, but you’re supposed to be able to ignore that when reading them, the same for the novels, video games, and audio dramas. It’s just supposed to be a Star Trek story as far as the reader is concerned. On that level Barr crafts a really good one. The stakes are very high and they work around the loss of the Enterprise as best they can, while using Mirror Spock to get Regular Spock into the story. There is a decent explanation as to why Mirror Spock didn’t begin his crusade to redeem the Empire into something closer to the Federation, as well as giving a valid potential origin for when the Mirror Universe diverted so drastically from the regular universe. They even worked in three comic-exclusive characters that serve as main characters during the DC run. Overall the story works really well.

However there are some missteps beyond the difficulties of navigating the movies. I would have liked to have seen a big last fight between Kirk and Mirror Kirk, but instead the Mirror Enterprise crew are rather unceremoniously dispatched. We do see Mirror Saavik debut and she causes some trouble but that’s it. I’m glad to see Marlena back from “Mirror Mirror”, now forming a resistance and working alongside David (who isn’t dead in this reality), but the comic risks overdoing the parallels. It doesn’t quite cross the line into “doing it just to do it” but it gets close. I also think I prefer the Marvel/Paramount Comics story named for the episode. While not the epic story in this trade it does have Spock beginning his work to reform the Empire. Interestingly that issue came out after the Mirror Universe returned on an episode of Deep Space Nine while the DC arc came out long before and both could in theory lead to the events mentioned in that episode.

The collection itself is bare bones. No individual covers and a forward by novelist A.C. Crispin, whose work includes various Star Trek novel. No behind the scenes, no concept art for the movie period version of the Empire’s uniforms, just Crispin talking about the classic series and praising the story. I don’t mind the lack of that stuff (except for the individual covers; I had to go online to track them down for the reviews) but they would have been nice bonus features for a trade collection.

In the end I do honestly enjoy and recommend this miniseries. Ignore how it might not fit the space between the third and fourth movies and you have a really good story arc as the former Enterprise crew has one last battle with their counterparts. It’s worth owning for any Trek fan who also enjoys comics.

The Individual Issue Reviews