Star Trek: Countdown in Review
This four-issue IDW comic prequels the 2009 Star Trek film, follows Star Trek: The Next Generation (particularly relevant to “Unification II” and Star Trek Nemesis), but conflicts with Star Trek: Picard. First published in 2009, is it any good?
Commanded by Nero, the Narada mines a barren planet but flees a massive solar flare which erupts from the Hobus star. Meanwhile, Ambassador Spock warns the Romulan senate of the star’s threat of going supernova and the need for decalithium to create “red matter” to stop it. Whereas the senate is skeptical, Nero supports Spock’s claim. Using the Narada, they begin mining for decalithium. However, Reman warbirds seize the Narada. The USS Enterprise-E — commanded by Data — arrives to intervene.
Data remotely disarms Reman infiltrators aboard the Narada and the Enterprise disables the Reman ships. Data advises Nero to use contraband decalithium from the Reman vessels. The story unfolds with diplomatic tensions, covert ops, and the impending Hobus supernova. Spock, with Jean-Luc Picard’s ambassadorial help, seeks Vulcan’s aid. Tragically, the supernova destroys Romulus.
Grief-stricken Nero suspects a Federation trap when hospital ships arrive. He destroys them and later confronts the Romulan senate’s survivors, leading to a deadly confrontation. Nero and his crew mark their sorrow with permanent tattoos. They discover the Vault, a hidden military facility, where the Narada is outfitted with advanced Borg technology. On Vulcan, Geordi La Forge arrives with the Jellyfish, the ship Spock will use to deliver the “red matter” payload. The Narada targets Vulcan but faces a Klingon fleet commanded by Worf, who is now a general.
Worf’s fleet battles Nero’s Narada but is outmatched; Nero demands Worf’s surrender. On Vulcan, preparations for Spock’s mission are completed. Spock departs on the Jellyfish. Worf meanwhile seeks Nero, who impales him. The Enterprise finds the Klingon fleet in ruins. The Narada decloaks and Nero instructs the Enterprise crew — while Worf’s life hangs in the balance — to lower their shields. Data complies to save Worf. The Narada chases the Jellyfish, which deploys the red matter into the supernova, creating a singularity that saves the galaxy but engulfs both ships. Following Spock’s self-sacrifice, the Enterprise continues, honouring his memory.
In Star Trek: Picard’s first season, changes from Countdown included a switch of the supernova’s source from the Hobus star to the Romulan sun and clarification that Data’s memories were not successfully transferred to B-4, who was disassembled following a synthetic ban. This ban led Picard — an admiral, not an ambassador — to resign from Starfleet. Additionally, Picard ’s third season mentions that Worf, not Data, succeeded Picard as the Enterprise-E’s captain and later joined Starfleet Intelligence instead of becoming a Klingon general.
Although I adore both characters, Data’s versatile skills make him preferable to Worf for commanding the Enterprise-E. However, I appreciate the Picard story element that Data’s memories weren’t transferred to B-4 and I view Picard more as an admiral than an ambassador (his skills are broader than specialising in diplomacy).
The first issue presents architecture and stylings on Romulus which brilliantly tie together the backstory of the 2009 movie and Star Trek Nemesis. When Spock addresses the Romulan senate, a fun line — paraphrasing the Julius Caesar quote “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”— has the half-Vulcan saying, “Friends, Romulans, countrymen… we share the same ears.” Given the degree of conflict between Nero and Spock in the 2009 film, it’s intriguing that, here, they begin as friends.
In the second issue, seeing Spock and Data reunite, having met in “Unification II”, is thrilling. I love that not only is Spock included in the comic’s cast of characters but James T Kirk also appears, holographically represented when Nero is doing some research on the Federation. I also like that continuity is expanded on by Data explaining how he was revived, via B-4.
The second issue includes some errors, with the Romulan homeworld written as “Romulas”, the Romulan title “Praetor” used for a Vulcan official, Spock bizarrely smiling in one panel, and Data’s speech bubble being overly transparent in another. It’s also odd that the Romulans have a virtually identical observatory to stellar cartography aboard the Enterprise-D in Star Trek Generations.
The second issue’s narrative is heavily plot-driven, as characters methodically seek Vulcan’s assistance. There’s a lot of dialogue, which, if not for the continuity, would be annoying, but it’s pleasing to see Picard again. It’s strange that they consult the Vulcan Science Council instead of the Vulcan High Command. However, this does indicate that the Vulcan Science Council basically looks the same whether in the Prime Timeline or the Kelvin one. The tension thankfully rises after Vulcan declines.
Issue 3 elevates the action, impressively and quickly establishing plot details for the 2009 film. It cleverly incorporates Easter eggs like a quote from Kirk and a Borg reference, leading to the arrival of Geordi La Forge, who mentions Locutus, Lore, Devidia II, and Q. Considering the Narada has highly advanced green-coloured weaponry in the 2009 film, it makes sense that it’s subverted Borg tech. The third issue unfortunately ends too much like the first, with a cliffhanger featuring a TNG legacy character.
Issue 4 delivers great continuity with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country when the Kingons discover the Narada can fire while cloaked. Spock’s farewell to Data, Picard and La Forge is heartfelt, especially for a Vulcan! The comparisons between the Enterprise-E warping into a former battlefield and the Kelvinverse Enterprise doing so in the 2009 movie are striking. Nero impaling Worf aboard the Narada is shocking but fortunately brief. The fourth issue was over before I knew it, culminating in a fitting and sentimental end to Spock’s time in the 24th century.
The comic’s layout is occasionally perplexing, with most pages presented individually but some random two-page spreads. Character likenesses are generally good, though some panels weirdly lack faces in group scenes. All four issues have excellent dramatic introductions. I just wish Ayel’s character was fleshed out more. Overall, this was a fun read, though mileage may vary.
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.