Star Trek/X-Men #1, December 1996, Marvel Comics
writer: Scott Lobdell
pencillers: Marc Silvestri, Billy Tan, Anthony Winn, David Finch, & Brian Ching
inkers: Batt, D-Tron, Billy Tan, Aaron Sowd, Joe Weems, Victor Llamas, Team Tron, Jose "Jag" Guillen, Viet Troung, Mike Manczarek
colorists: Tyson Wengler, Steve Firchow, Jonathan D. Smith, Richard Isanove
letterer: Dennis Heisler
Blogger's note: Entry for Thursday, April 17, 2008.
Weirdest. Crossover. Ever.
I'd heard of Star Trek/X-Men, but until I found it in a fifty cent bin, I didn't believe it. Having read it, I think it's definitely worth more than a measly fifty cents. This issue is a piece of '90s treasure, and proof that, even in comics' arguably darkest era, good old fashioned camp still had a place. This kind of material has value, perhaps not monetarily, but by way of morale. It evokes that wondrous "What the --?" factor that folks must have experienced when they first encountered the likes of Marvel's mainstays in the early '60s, the ones we now take for granted. Come on, how did the American general public react when they first saw the Fantastic Four's ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing? What did comics markets overseas think when they saw that orange mound of rough-talkin' rocky heroism come from our imagination? (Well, really, it was Stan Lee's under the pressure of his publisher wanting to compete with DC's Justice League, but you see what I mean?! Capitalism, baby!) It's pure double-take, something the embittered masses of '90s comic book readers needed -- and perhaps need again today.
So, when both classic Star Trek and X-Men fans saw this peculiar team-up, you know they must've beheld it with some skepticism. Heck, after reading it, they probably still beheld it with some skepticism: "Did I really just read this? Did I really just kind of like it?" Yes, no matter what anyone blogs, you can't help but secretly like Star Trek/X-Men, even just a little bit. The moment writer and reader seem to mutually realize that both teams have a doctor named McCoy is the moment they both realize that perhaps the Marvel and Star Trek universes can be one in the same, with the Beast an odd but intelligently natural ancestor of the one belovedly dubbed "Bones." Indeed, whether or not the two teams are from alternate realities, different dimensions, or just plain different points on the same timeline remains intentionally unclear.
What is solid is the highly fan-fic-like Wolverine/Spock confrontation, as anticipated as it is quick, with Spock pulling out the old Vulcan nerve pinch, then using a bit of logic to talk himself out of any further tusslin'. (How he managed to implement the pinch past Wolvie's massive shoulder pads is anyone's guess, but, hey, those Starfleet folks are used to journeys into the unknown.) Gratefully, we're spared the possibility of a "whole Enterprise crew versus the X-Men" match, as the two crews promptly discover a mutual foe (actually, a combination of two, respective foes, which is even better) and join forces to combat him, er, them, or whatever. The winning blow from the good guys came from a clever combination of constellation class starship technology and mutant power manipulation, revealing how homo sapien superiors might've actually come in handy in Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future. Alas, since few mutants seem to exist in Earth's 24th century, Cyclops and the rest simply take comfort in Kirk and his crew's embrace of otherworldly cultures -- in a moment that seems oddly fable-like, with a transparent moral like from the end of an old G.I. Joe episode. Hey, like I said, this issue is all about morale, and the realization that some comics are willing to go where others have not gone before.
I won't ruin this optimistic review by talking about this issue's art. Look at the credits listed above. Did they really need that many people working on this issue? Apparently, yes, and while their styles are so indistinct, revealing the monotony of many '90s trends, visually Star Trek/X-Men, as Scotty would put it, "was barely holding it t'gether, Captain!" The caricatures of the Star Trek cast were inconsistent, compensated for by extreme melodrama, and their scale with the X-Men made me wonder if holographic rations are really good for human growth and evolution. Still, all of these characters are giants of pop culture, transcendent of any one writer's or artist's interpretation, and I'll leave it at that.
Isn't it obvious? This issue had me from "hailing frequencies open, bub." Goes to show, you'll get out of a comic usually what you're willing to put into it -- like any uncharted trek.