[Jason Powell continues his Claremont epilogues.]
This one is a relatively short graphic novel (96 pages, I think?) set after Star Trek IV (the whale one), and published around 1992, maybe. (Sorry, these dates are easily found online, I realize, but I’m just kinda cruising through this stuff.)
People who are Claremont fans but not Star Trek fans possibly need not apply to this one. Claremont is very clearly a huge devotee of Star Trek, and this book is in many ways just authorized fan fiction. (But then, that is true of a lot of the licensed Star Trek stuff, really.)
On the other hand, if you’re a Trek fan (which I am), this is great fun. The gimmick here is that at key moments in Star Trek history (which we are shown in sequential flashbacks), Captain Kirk had multiple encounters with the same species of hostile alien. But so shrewd were these creatures that they were always able to cover their tracks, and Kirk has never been able to prove that these guys exist, or convince anyone that they pose a credible threat. (We learn that they inhabit another dimension, much like the limbo demons and N’Garai in X-Men, which is an idea I liked so much I pinched it for my musical, “Invader? I Hardly Know Her.”)
The only other person who knows about these aliens is another starship captain: Basically a female equivalent of Kirk (of course!) who also happens to be a Romulan. Kirk goes rogue to team up with both her and a Klingon captain (whom I think Claremont made up, although he might be from an old “Trek” episode …) to take down these aliens once and for all.
The fan-fictional elements include cameos by a ton of old Trek characters, an explanation for why Klingons used to have smooth foreheads and now don’t (years before “Enterprise” offered a different explanation; I like Claremont’s better). And I think there is at least one Mary Sue in this book as well. (Not being an expert on original Trek, I have trouble distinguishing the cameos of canonical characters from the Claremont originals … there are a LOT of people who turn up here.)
Oh, and there is also a reference to “Cat’s Laughing,” a band whose members Claremont is personal friends with, and who also have cameos in issues of Claremont’s “Excalibur” series in 1988. Claremont likes to link his different stories via musicians.
Despite all the indulgences, though, this is a tight adventure story, a great example of intelligent and rousing space opera. The artwork here is by human dynamo Adam Hughes (with inks by Karl Story), which means that the evil other-dimensional aliens are suitably terrifying, and the sexy Romulan captain is suitably gorgeous. Just visually alone, this is a beautiful package, but the intelligent story is what makes it worth the read. Plus, Claremont writes an awesome Spock. In another universe, a movie adaptation of this book would have made a spectacular Star Trek V or VI, and a much better final adventure for the original crew.
Sometime later, Claremont contributed a story to an issue of DC’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation” comic series (one of the annuals), wherein a teenage ensign from Debt of Honor (very Kitty Pryde-esque) comes back – now much older, of course – and resolves a semi-dangling thread from the original graphic novel. The details are fuzzy in my memory, though I think they involve the woman – a human -- getting adopted by a Klingon house, which leads to her crossing paths with Worf, a Klingon adopted by humans.
I guess you could call it an epilogue to “Debt of Honor.” It’s a well-written piece, with a very satisfying ending, although I don’t think it would make even the tiniest impression on anyone who hadn’t already read “Debt.” But it is a great little addendum. I personally would have preferred a full-length sequel to “Debt” set in the Next Generation era, but perhaps that was not viable.