Strange New Worlds’ “The Illyrian Enigma” Issue #3 in Review
IDW have begun a storyline for Strange New Worlds designed to fit nicely in between the cliffhanger ending of Season 1, and the upcoming Season 2 premiere, focusing on the fallout of the cliffhanger’s removal — for the moment — of First Officer Una Chin-Riley from the Enterprise. At the end of #2, the Illyrian leader Da-Kil had abducted Spock and altered his genes, because for some reason only a Vulcan could access the important MacGuffin on the long-lost Illyrian homeworld. How will Spock fare in the third season?
Issue #3 opens with a nice view of the Enterprise warping in pursuit, before we leap right into naked Spock territory, revealing that the change made to him by the Illyrians was to turn his flesh to stone so that he could survive on the corrosive-to-everything surface of the planet. Don’t get your hopes up — this is all PG-rated stuff with careful silhouetting.
Monitored by Da-Kil from orbit, naked rock-hard Spock finds a single building on the planet, with a statue of a Vulcan in ancient robes atop it. When he enters, he finds himself in a strange city (a two-page splash that shrinks to half size with tiny text on electronic versions), dressed like the statue, and being addressed by other Vulcans — all riding out of their ship on sehlats! — as “Skalan”. The Vulcans have come to assist the Illyrians, who all have the same appearance as Da-Kil and his followers, with the discovery that their planet and themselves are changing on a genetic level.
This is an interesting part of the story, as it implies the possibility that more ancient spacefaring Vulcans might have been more keen to interfere with other developing civilisations before developing a first-contact rule protocol. On the other hand, the Illyrians seem to be highly advanced at the time too, and were able to summon them.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise arrives so that Pike can demand Da-Kil return Spock, only to be told that’s impossible. Meanwhile, Skalan/Spock finds out that whatever is rendering Illyria at risk of becoming uninhabitable is genetic in nature… at which point a crystal around his neck begins to glow, and hologrid lines start replacing his appearance.
Pike takes a shuttle down to the planet, figuring that it and a spacesuit will last five minutes, and lands to find the Vulcan monument starting to collapse. Da-Kil orders his crew to beam Spock up as soon as he appears, but Pike gets there first, and meets naked stone Spock, who is holding the glowing crystal from Skalan’s pendant. Spock explains that this must mean the solution to the mystery of the Illyrians must actually lie on Vulcan…
As usual, the likenesses are good. The sehlats bring out a grin but the city is very sparse — far too much so for the double-page spread — as is the surface of the planet, making for rather dull art. It also, being more talky, lacks anything in terms of exciting splash pages or engaging action to draw the reader in. The script is also very thin, with relatively little dialogue, despite the necessary revelations that are given. Yes, the story progresses, but what we needed to get from the issue could have been done in about five or six pages, so it really feels like a quick skim, padded out with as little ink as possible.
Oh, and despite M’Benga being prominently featured on the default cover, he isn’t in it. It suggests that cover was meant for next issue.
The story as a whole has been enjoyable, but this is easily the weakest part, just being too little in every respect and feeling like it’s really about five pages that didn’t fit in the previous or (presumably) following issue and had to be padded out to make a whole new one to justify the price and a slot on the monthly schedule… which doesn’t bode that well for the story’s forward planning.
David A McIntee is a writer and historian who has written for properties such as Doctor Who, Star Wars, Final Destination, and Stargate, as well as having written several adventures in the Star Trek franchise for Pocket Books. He has contributed many pieces to the magazines Star Trek Explorer (née Star Trek Magazine) and Star Trek Communicator, as well as having written nonfiction books about Star Trek: Voyager.