The Coming of Cardassians:
Spock, Sarek Clash in Comic
Imagine the historic first encounter between the Federation and the Cardassians. The mysterious scaly species say they want to forge a trade alliance, and Captain Spock -- fresh from his triumph making peace with the longtime enemy Klingons -- is all for it. But Ambassador Sarek finds it illogical to trust the Cardassians and resists an agreement. The two formidable Vulcans have a public disagreement, with consequences for their family and the galaxy that reverberate into the next generation.
The upcoming Wildstorm comic Star Trek: Enter the Wolves offers Trek fans a look at two epic events: the beginnings of the Federation struggle with Cardassia, and the bitter disagreement that drives Spock and his father apart for good. Popular Star Trek novelists Ann Crispin and Howard Weinstein and artist Carlos Mota bring to life this critical moment in Star Trek history, narrated by Leonard McCoy.
"I thought it was reasonable for Spock, who had just made peace with their hereditary enemies the Klingons, to believe that peace was possible with the Cardassians. But I wanted Sarek to be right, because the Cardassians are creeps," explains Crispin, who as the author of the novel Sarek is probably the leading authority on Spock's father.
"I knew that the two of them had clashed from the [Next Generation] episode 'Unification.' Sarek is worried because the Cardassians haven't allowed the Federation to visit their planet, and Spock makes him look stupid by saying they have a fleet the Cardassians could not possibly challenge. It all sounds very logical, but Spock is also angry that his father married a woman who is 25 years old -- young enough to be his great-great-granddaughter."
Enter the Wolves has actually been in the works for many years. Margaret Clark, who edited the Star Trek line for DC Comics and now edits Trek for Pocket Books, had commissioned Crispin to write the story. Paramount approved the project and Crispin was paid for it, but the comic license changed hands, ultimately ending up with Wildstorm. Crispin sent her work to editor Jeff Mariotte, who liked it but thought it needed more action scenes.
"I don't know how to write fistfights, I don't know how to write space battles, and I did not feel equal to the task," admits Crispin, who still isn't comfortable with the comic script format despite her success as the author of several Trek Pocket Books. At that point, she got in touch with long-time friend and collaborator Weinstein, who had written nearly 60 Star Trek issues for DC and Marvel. "I called up Howie and said, 'You have done this for years, you're really good at it. How about if we team up on this?'"
"Enter the Wolves is very much a character-driven story, centered on one of the most complex relationships in Star Trek history -- the one between Spock and Sarek," says Weinstein, who was intrigued by the project but initially reluctant to interfere with what he felt was Crispin's story, and a very strong one at that. "Paramount did want more action injected into the story. And I could see some other obstacles, mostly structural stuff: the script needed to be shortened without gutting the content. It was never my job to alter Ann's story. I had a simple if somewhat delicate goal: to revise her script, trimming it to fit into 44 pages."
Crispin had written an updated synopsis, giving Sarek's wife Perrin a bigger role and incorporating all the new data on the Cardassians that had been revealed on The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. "Howie used my dialogue where new scenes had to be added," Crispin recalls. Weinstein also suggested using McCoy as a sort of narrator -- an idea that appealed to Crispin, who was mourning the recently deceased DeForest Kelley as well as Sarek actor Mark Lenard. "Howie tended to increase Dr. McCoy's role, and we're dedicating the comic book to DeForest Kelley and Mark Lenard," notes Crispin.
"Ann and I both have great affection for McCoy -- and for DeForest Kelley's portrayal -- and 'hearing' the narration bridges in his 'voice' adds a warmth that helps draw readers into the emotions of the story," elaborates Weinstein, who claims that the only other addition he made to the comic was a new opening scene. "That introduces the menace of the Cardassians immediately, and kicks the story off with an exploding space ship -- rarely a bad thing in a comic!"
Journeys To Babel
As the action unfolds, Sarek marries Perrin, only to lose her to kidnappers. This forces him to work with the son who so recently betrayed him. "Everybody hates Perrin," laughs Crispin of fan reactions to Sarek's wife on The Next Generation -- an unpopular successor to Spock's beloved mother Amanda. "She really is horrible. She's nasty to Spock. I wanted to present a younger, more vulnerable Perrin, to try to show why she got so cold and why there was this conflict between her and Spock. You'll see a nasty confrontation between Spock and Perrin where Spock has made Sarek look paranoid in front of the council, and Perrin is very protective of Sarek. She loses her temper, while Spock is being maddeningly Spock -- very cold and logical."
Carlos Mota says that trying to portray that younger Perrin was his greatest challenge while working on Enter the Wolves. "It's always very difficult to draw 'real' people in 'real' actions," explains the artist, who lives in Brazil and speaks through his manager, translator and writing partner Fabricio Grellet. Jeff Mariotte discovered Mota at a show by Brazilian artists at Comicon last year, and invited him to illustrate the story "Bloodline" in Wildstorm's Star Trek Special. That story featured a movie-era Kirk encountering his adult nephew Peter, who appeared briefly as a child in "Operation: Annihilate!"
"It's easier for me, as an artist, to make a person appear older than to make her younger," says Mota in comparing the two comics. "In the case of Peter, who only appeared once, as a child, I made him older." Mota points out that when an artist draws a familiar face, the major difficulty is to depict well-known expressions with accuracy. "That's why it's easier to draw the faces of Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley instead of William Shatner and George Takei, because these two have more traces, definition and forms that are like 'trademarks,' which makes them perfect to work in some angles. The reader will surely expect to see in the comic book what they see on TV, like the arched eyebrows of Spock."
Though writing the action scenes with the Cardassians were the bane of Crispin's efforts, they were the most fun for Mota, who describes himself as a fan of Marc Alaimo's Gul Dukat from Deep Space Nine. "They're like the Klingons, with great expressions and huge actions." On the other hand, the scenes between Spock and Sarek that Crispin and Weinstein so enjoyed were difficult for the artist. "They're showing the relationship between a father and a son, what they feel, but the Vulcans are 'cold.' So I've tried to catch their minimal expressions in the best way that I could."
"I like to draw close-up panels because I can really show details...like the veins at the edge of the eyes!" Mota jokes. But in all seriousness, this lifelong Star Trek fan was thrilled to be asked to draw Spock and Sarek so soon after the Kirk-McCoy story "Bloodline." "To draw the classic characters is something that sends me back to my childhood, a period when I journeyed with the crew of the USS Enterprise."
Weinstein, who has not seen the finished comic yet, is very pleased with Mota's penciled pages. "Star Trek is not an easy art gig. The characters must look like the actors, or the whole book loses credibility. And some artists who can do fabulous original work just can't do consistently good likenesses of Leonard Nimoy for 44 pages. But in this case, I can honestly say I think Carlos did superlative work. He followed our written blueprint and added some nice flourishes of his own -- from reconfiguring page layout for better visual story flow to interpreting our descriptions in a creative yet faithful way."
The Way To Eden
Weinstein would like to write a prequel, set in the year before Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, explaining how Spock came to follow Sarek's career as a diplomat. "My story includes a major plotline that examines the early stages of that career choice for Spock," he says. "It does feel a little strange for me to not be working on Star Trek stuff these days, after writing Trek on and off for over 25 years, since I did "The Pirates of Orion" for the animated TV series."
The writer does have a non-fiction book coming out in mid-2001: Puppy Kisses Are Good For The Soul & Other Important Things You & Your Dog Can Teach Each Other. "Yes, the book is longer than the title," he laughs. "I started a dog-training business a few years ago. Puppy Kisses is the story of everything I learned from 15 years with my first dog, the estimable Welsh Corgi Mail Order Annie."
Crispin has written V, Alien Resurrection, the Witchworld series with Andre Norton, the StarBridge series, and several popular Star Wars novels that tell the backstory of Han Solo. Yet Star Trek remains her first love, and she plans to revisit the offshoot she created in Yesterday's Son with a new trilogy of books. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Zar -- Spock's son with Zarabeth from "All Our Yesterdays" -- go back to the time of Surak, "because somebody has messed with Vulcan history and the planet Vulcan is dead. The first book is called Return To Yesterday. We'll get to see what Vulcan was like before logic. Dr. McCoy has a raging affair with a Vulcan. The idea of getting to see McCoy with pointed ears just cracks me up."
Yet Crispin believes the Yesterday saga may be her Star Trek swansong. "It's getting too hard to come up with anything that hasn't been done," she sighs. "The only way I could get anything through was to go back two thousand years in history, because otherwise I kept running up against things they've already done!"
Still, Weinstein believes the Vulcans offer rich possibilities for exploration. "Near the end of Star Trek IV -- still my all-time favorite Trek episode -- Sarek comes over to Spock to say goodbye. Sarek says, 'As I recall, I opposed your enlistment in Starfleet... It is possible that judgment was incorrect. Your associates are people of good character.' And Spock says, simply, 'They are my friends.' That exchange is totally within character, yet filled with subtext -- and isn't that what really makes Vulcans, umm, 'fascinating' to us? There more to them than meets the eye."