Red Matter Rampage in Star Trek: Nero
This four-part comic mini-series, focusing on the 2009 Star Trek film’s antagonist, was produced by the creators of Star Trek: Countdown. It’s therefore similar, featuring vibrant art, fairly strong character resemblances and occasional two-page spreads.
In the Neutral Zone — following the USS Kelvin‘s kamikaze attack — the Narada is severely damaged. Nero, realising a black hole sent the Narada back in time, insists on using the red matter to destroy the Federation. He’s conflicted about losing his home planet. In a tense crew assembly, he reaffirms their mission to destroy the Federation. He lets those who want to return home depart on a shuttlecraft but destroys it. Ambushed by Klingon warships, Nero and his crew lose the battle, leading to his capture. He awakens on Rura Penthe — the Klingon prison planet, with the Narada in orbit — and is condemned to life imprisonment there.
Nero overpowers a formidable dog. Though he’s silent during interrogations, the Klingons aim to extract Narada-related information from him. His crew’s mining efforts spare them from execution. He’s obsessed about exacting revenge on Spock.
Twenty years pass. Nero meets Clavell, a human mapmaker and fellow prisoner. Enhanced by a drug, Nero can communicate telepathically. The Narada suddenly activates, electrocuting Klingon engineers. Escaping, Nero, his crew and Clavell take a shuttle to the Narada, seemingly awaiting them. As it sets off, they ponder their destination and whether they’ll encounter Spock.
The Narada reaches the Delta Quadrant’s edge, where Nero senses a powerful entity that the ship is drawn toward. Nero believes this entity is connected to Spock, who encountered it in another timeline; the entity is V’ger. The Narada’s controls are unresponsive and, when a probe appears on the bridge, Clavell’s console lethally electrocutes him. Nero steps into the light column, disappearing. Ayel takes command of the Narada.
Inside V’ger, the entity experiences Nero’s life and he communicates with Ayel telepathically, guiding the Narada to follow inside. They reach the machine’s center and regain control of the Narada. Nero uses V’ger to calculate where and when Spock will reappear. As the link is severed, Nero loses consciousness. They are beamed back to the Narada. The vessel alters course to intercept Spock.
Back in the Neutral Zone, the Narada captures Spock’s Jellyfish ship with a tractor beam. Spock, realising resistance is illogical due to carrying dangerous red matter, reluctantly kneels after being struck by Nero. Having awaited Spock for twenty-five years, Nero reveals his intention to destroy all Federation planets, blaming Spock for Vulcan’s salvation at Romulus’ expense. Spock insists he tried to save Romulus but Nero vehemently disagrees. Inspecting the red matter device, he and Ayel anticipate its deployment.
Spock contemplates being 129 years in the past and the consequences of his actions on his friends. Nero reflects on the ship’s transformation thanks to Borg technology. Battling a Klingon fleet, the Narada emerges unscathed. It receives a distress call from Rura Penthe, which Nero hopes the Federation will hear. He discusses fate and Vulcan’s impending destruction with Spock. Nero delivers him to Delta Vega, where he will have a clear view of Vulcan’s destruction.
Unlike the movie, Nero is talkative from the start of this comic, non-vocal only during his Klingon imprisonment. Thought captions and bubbles thankfully keep us updated on his thinking.
It’s interesting to consider how much damage the Kelvin wrought by crashing into the Narada. The comic details this better than the film does.
Apparently inspired by the film’s script, the comic explores the thought-provoking notion of differing opinions about heading home, akin to Voyager‘s “The 37’s”. Nero’s intention to destroy the Federation first is clear. In the screenplay, Ayel’s insistence on returning to Romulus prompted Nero to kill him. The comic succeeds by delving deeper into the potential return than the film does, Nero even admitting he’s tempted to rush home. He also insists to a member of his crew that the planet’s destruction has indeed happened, coincidencing with him asserting to Christopher Pike the same thing in the movie.
Issue 1 references the Apnex Sea, from TNG’s “The Defector” — the first Star Trek episode I ever saw and still a personal favourite. The first issue also expands on a deleted scene, depicting the Narada’s takeover by Klingon ships. The Klingon commander could feasibly have been anyone but is established as Kor, of the IKS Klothos, adding to the continuity thrills. As the deleted scene only shows the Klingons remotely demanding the Narada, the comic’s in-person battle between the Klingons and Romulans over the ship is engaging. Plus, it cleverly shows Captain Robau‘s fate after his movie demise.
I love how the comic involves a Kelvin Timeline variant of the Klingon commandant from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. This allows for a fresh take on a classic Klingon character.
Issue 2 includes animal cruelty, which I can’t condone, and the biggest time jump in the entire Nero series (twenty years). The human Clavell is a missed opportunity to depict a particularly alien-looking alien but at least he has a puzzling backstory. The Narada taking on a life of its own is intriguing. I also like how the second issue incorporates parts of a deleted scene to depict Nero’s time on Rura Penthe and his prison break.
The Narada encountering V’ger in the third issue is another thrilling Star Trek callback but seems to weaken the portrayal of Nero, distracting him from his obsessional destructiveness. It enhances the art but doesn’t contribute much to the plot.
When the thought captions start being used for Spock in the fourth issue, it’s initially unclear that they’re Spock’s thoughts. Issue 4 showcases an epic battle against the Klingons, with the commandant having tracked the Narada down, like his Prime Timeline counterpart does to Kirk, McCoy and Martia in The Undiscovered Country. We also learn how the Narada destroyed forty-seven Klingon ships, a statistic from the movie. Lastly, the comic perfectly sets Spock up to witness Vulcan’s destruction in the film.
This is a nice continuity filler. While not an imperative read, it’s entertaining enough.
Webmaster of WarpFactorTrek, Dan is an avid Star Trek fan who lives in Aberdeen, Scotland. Dan has loved Star Trek ever since discovering it in his childhood. He worked as an administrator, for six years, on the encyclopedic Star Trek website Memory Alpha, which involved studying the making of the various series and films. He has been mentioned in the official Star Trek Magazine, has qualified from a Star Trek course taught at Glasgow Clyde College, and coordinated the SubSpace Chatter (formerly The Scotch Trekker) YouTube channel, which regularly featured live interviews with the cast and crew of Star Trek.