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Suspended Animation:
John Byrne's Star Trek: Assignment Earth

Growing up, I was a fan of the original Star Trek series, which had long since begun its run in syndication.  Many years later, I learned a now-well-known piece of Trek trivia: the final episode of Season Two, “Assignment: Earth”, was originally meant to herald a spin-off series of the same name.  Whatever appeal and potential fans may believe it had, network bigwigs passed.

Enter IDW Publishing, who ran with the idea and main characters, Gary Seven and his assistant, Roberta Lincoln, in a six-issue miniseries in 2008.  Written, drawn and inked by long-time comics pro John Byrne, the story offers solid, lighthearted entertainment, despite dealing with subjects such as potential nuclear devastation, covert military cloning operations, the prospect of earth’s destruction by a hostile alien race, and more.

“How can that be lighthearted”, you ask?  Easy.  Like the sci-fi series from which it sprung, “Assignment: Earth” doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Oh, the drama is enjoyable, and the plots, characterization, motivations and mysteries are interesting.  But with its neatly tied-up storylines, along with a fair dash of optimistic humor, Byrne manages to keep things cheery.

The art of John Byrne is one of the most recognizable in the business, and for good reason.  A staple of superhero fare, his style is at home in the thick of action and drama, but he is equally adept at expression and characterization, which are of no small import to more subdued subject matter.  In short, Byrne is a master of comics art.  And, while not delivering his “Mona Lisa” as it were, “Assignment: Earth” is thoroughly enjoyable as the fulfillment of at least some Trek fans’ wishes: the “fleshing out” of an idea which Star Trek execs let go by the wayside.

For all of the above reasons, Star Trek – Assignment: Earth is recommended for fans of Star Trek and/or John Byrne.  Look for it at your comics shop, trade shows, or online retailers and auctions.  But try your local comics shop first.

Mark Allen

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