Comic Book Review: Star Trek New Visions #18

We wax a little nostalgic for old tech and wonder how good cinematographer and storyteller John Byrne is.

Most of you are too young to remember the bad old days before Blu-Rays, digital downloads, and cell phones. In the late ’70s and into the early ’80s, few people had access to VCRs and cell phones were bulky big kits that barely fit in your car. When a movie came out in the theater, you went to see it several times, and if you want to look at still pictures of the freeze frame, you either bought Tops Trading Cards Or rely on magazines like starlog or inevitable Movie Special Editions. If you are very lucky, you can get fotonovel.

What the hell is Fotonovel?

Photophiles These were great paperback books that retold the story with colorful stills from the movie or TV show. They had comic book style word balloons and it was the only chance I got to anxiously scrutinize every detail of the hundreds of scenes.

There have been plenty of these comics covering TV shows like Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th century and movies of all kinds from Alien to Grease. Mac’s father was all of those on Star Trek though. Finally, Bantam Books has released fourteen novels. Twelve of them retold classic Trek episodes in gorgeous color frames, and made one for each of the first two films. It was the best way for us hiking geeks to capture every little detail.

Remember Chris Real

The advent of the affordable home VCR and the deluge of video tapes that gave way to DVD and finally to Blu-Ray, made fotonovel obsolete. Who needs a picture book when you can simply view the movie on your phone? Forty years later, IDW publisher Chris Real acquired the rights to create new cartoons for Star Trek. He enlisted legendary comics creator and Star Trek nerd Jon Byrne and set him free. Byrne has produced several mini-series for IDW all revolving around classic Star Trek characters, and they are all very good.

Then someone hit upon an idea. Why not bring back an iconic piece of Star Trek memorabilia, only with new stories. In the age of easy digital manipulation, not only could fotonovel make a comeback, but since Star Trek TOS was digitally rewritten years ago, every frame can be recast into new stories. This was the ultimate form of remixing. He’d better give it a try than the talented OG Star Trek nerd who was already working for them.


Pain It To Draw represents Byrne’s 18th project in the photographic arena and compared to his other stories in the series, it’s pretty lackluster. The plot revolves around the Enterprise facing an alien creature that has an amazing amount of control over water. It’s really just Bern’s excuse to Photoshop a bunch of irregular blue dots in a picture of stars that’s perfectly acceptable.

The thing is, Byrne has an unmistakable talent for classic Star Trek absurdity that even when it’s not his version of his usual great story, it’s still better than just about anything else out there. This story is actually better than some of the original TV episodes. The blue dots are damned.

With Chris Real’s departure from IDW, Star Trek New Visions comes to an end. Most likely, this will also mark the end of Jon Byrne’s tenure in Star Trek as well. this is shame. It was nice having well-written stories about Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.

Comic Book Review: Star Trek New Visions #18


  • Great nostalgia worker
  • Characters in point
  • so much fun


  • The story is a bit funny
  • Water cut with pictures distracts attention

7Final total

Reader Rating:2 votes)


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