Though I’m not overly familiar with Star Trek comics, it seems to me that the Peter David-written Annual #3, published in 1988, is a bit of an oddity – given that it focuses so strongly on Scotty, a prominent and popular character, but not one who often gets to be the sole focus of a story. What’s also unusual is that it isn’t the type of tale that would normally be told in Star Trek.
That’s exactly why I wanted to cover it, however. I’m a big fan of Peter David’s work – and have been since his incredible run on Hulk (which began in the mid-80s and lasted for an astonishing 12 years) – but had never read any of his Star Trek comics until now (as I’ve documented elsewhere on the site, it took me a long time to become a fan of Star Trek – better late than never though, right?).
The story featured in the Annual is titled ‘Retrospect’ – and it’s a sweet, albeit somewhat tragic tale. Expressing concern about the Chief Engineer’s wellbeing to Kirk, McCoy accompanies the Captain to Scotty’s quarters – whereupon they discover that his estranged wife, Glynis, has passed away. The rest of the story is told via various flashbacks, the narrative jumping backwards and forwards to different, pivotal moments in Scotty’s relationship with Glynis.
Though the colouring is certainly dated by modern standards, the artwork – by the legendary Curt Swan – is fantastic; the likenesses of the familiar characters is strong, for the most part, and the newly introduced characters are well rendered and distinctive.
It’s great to get a deeper look into Scotty’s past, even if it leans a little too heavily into very stereotypical Scottish clichés at times. ‘Retrospect’ is a surprisingly mature and thoughtful tale of love and loss; though comic books still have either the image of being for kids or adults in a state of arrested development, it’s clear that the medium has always been used for a variety of genres and stories at different levels of maturity. Many mainstream commentators either don’t seem to see this – or refuse to. There are exceptions to this, of course – Watchmen seems to be one of the few examples of a mature comic that has broken through the snobbery – but there’s an awful lot more material that has escaped notice over the years. I must admit, however, that it surprised even me to discover such a mature, reflective tale in a Star Trek comic.
There are references to events in Star Trek continuity, such as the loss of Scotty’s nephew during the events of The Wrath of Khan – the dead engineer that Scotty mourns over in the film is his nephew; though not mentioned in the film, it was in a deleted scene (and is also mentioned in the film’s novelisation). This helps to give the story a canonical feel, though I’m unsure as to whether it’s considered an ‘official’ part of Scotty – or Star Trek – history.
Though the Annual itself is likely quite difficult to find on its own, it is available (in print and digitally) in the collection The Star Trek Archive Vol. 1: The Best of Peter David. It’s well worth a read – and, if you do pick up the collection, it contains four more classic Trek stories featuring the original cast. I’m definitely keen to check out more of these stories myself – and will of course cover more of them as I do so.
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