Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Star Trek: Khan - Ruling In Hell

Star Trek: Khan - Ruling In Hell



Published by: IDW Publishing
Written by: Scott Tipton and David Tipton
Art by: Fabio Mantovani
Colouring by: Fabio Mantovani and Chiara Cinabro
Lettering by: Neil Uyetake

Synopsis:

The SS Botany Bay and a few cargo containers from the USS Enterprise land on Ceti Alpha V. Khan Noonian Singh is reading Moby Dick when Captain Kirk approaches him and gives him the honour of being the first to step on his new home, which Khan appreciates :) Khan surveys his new home and is pleased while Scotty asks Kirk if this is a good idea and Kirk says that it's better than risking Khan take over a re-education facility or a starbase given how fast he took the Enterprise.

Kirk wishes Khan the best as they shake hands and Kirk beams off. One of Khan's followers named Tamas curses Kirk for stranding them there but Khan tells him not to b/c Kirk proved that he is nobody's inferior when he beat Khan and took back the Enterprise, and that given that Khan tried to take Kirk's ship, it was more than generous for Kirk to let them settle on a planet rather than incarcerate them. :) Khan is excited at the prospect of taming the new world :D

Khan's loyal friend Joachim (who is also in Star Trek II) expresses doubts as well but trusts Khan and is reassured by him that things will be okay :)

Khan reflects briefly on his past: how he was genetically engineered and that he and his kind took over much of Earth and established empires, but that the regular humans eventually rebelled and he was forced to flee with other superhumans and decided that it was better to go into space than face defeat on Earth. He then recaps being awoken by the Enterprise on his sleeper ship, and taking it over easily w/ his men but that he underestimated Kirk and ultimately lost. However he credits Kirk for not punishing him and offering him a new life and a chance to build a new empire :)

Khan starts by organizing search parties to explore their new home. We see montages of days, weeks and months passing as they discover the dangers of the planet and the weird plants and animals that inhabit it. As dangerous as it is at first, with people being attacked and captured by plants, 6 months later, they have already built cabins and mastered how to hunt and kill the animals :)

Khan gives a stirring speech that night w/ Marla Macgyvers (the Enterprise historian who fell in love w/ him and came w/ him to the planet as his wife) about how much they've accomplished in such a short amount of time and how this will be a great civilization that will eventually take it's place among the stars :3

He and Marla kiss in the starlit sky... but then there is an explosion in the night sky! :O Khan determines using futuristic binoculars that Ceti Alpha VI exploded :| Khan assures his followers that everything will be fine, but Tamas is skeptical. Joachim believes him even though he too is worried.

Khan confides to Marla that it may not be fine, but is confident that if there is any problem, Kirk will return b/c he believes Starfleet must be monitoring the situation, as much for their own sake as for the colonists.

6 Months later things on the planet are deteriorating. Plants and animals are dying and the world is no longer lush and vibrant. Joachim and Tamas are talking. Joachim is hopeful, believing that it could just be a natural seasonal change of the planet, but Tamas believes it has to do with the explosion of Ceti Alpha VI.

A piece of debris from Ceti Alpha VI then impacts in the distance, causing a mushroom cloud which makes Tamas believe he is more right than ever.

Back in the Botany Bay, Joachim asks Khan if there is a way to send a signal but Khan says that all the Botany Bay can do is send radio signals and nobody would be able to get them in time. He says that Kirk is an honourable man, and will return to help them.

Tamas and his loyalists believe Khan is being foolish and confront him, Marla and Joachim :o They argue w/ Khan saying that there is nothing that can be done at the moment but wait for help and again reiterates that Kirk will be back. Tamas calls him a traitor and mocks his irrational faith in Kirk, who he sees as the cause of all their problems and Khan's weakness in losing to him. :o

This enrages Khan who backhands Tamas :o He tells Tamas that they can only prepare for a worsening situation until Kirk comes and Tamas obeys even though it is clear he has other plans. Khan mutters that Kirk will come. :(

Three months later, the world is becoming more inhospitable and cold as winds blow dead leaves and debris everywhere. Joachim tells Khan that the river is dry and the wells are drying up and that the hunting parties don't even bring back enough to support the energy expended in the hunt :( He says that it keeps getting colder but they don't have enough pelts to make furs to keep warm.

Khan orders all fabric and upholstery to be stripped from the Botany Bay and turned into coldweather clothing. They then go to check on "the patients" :o Apparently during the last few months, several colonists have gotten mysteriously ill. The illness starts with madness and then turns into paralysis and death. :o Tamas walks in and talks about how paralysis is a terrible thing and how awful it is to be unable to move or save yourself. He then notes pointedly to Khan that at least the infected ppl did not CHOOSE to be paralyzed. :o

Tamas speaks to other colonists who are loyal to him that things are getting worse, that the meteorite impacts have caused a nuclear winter and that the planet's orbit shifting has only compounded the problem. :( He suggests Khan is not willing to make the hard decisions necessary to save his people. Tamas says that even though they owe Khan everything for helping them escape Earth, Khan seems unable to make hard decisions to save the colony and that he is foolishly hoping for a rescue that will never come. :o He suggests that soon it will be up to them to make the hard decisions o_o

Joachim tells Khan that all attempts to create a subspace transmitter has failed, and the knowledge from the Enterprise's databanks suggests that there's no way they could do it. Khan gets angry and chases Marla and Joachim out and begins to brood about how his people are dying and yet Kirk is still not here. :(

Khan and his people push and weld the cargo containers together to create a sand proof and wind proof place for them to live. He bitterly says that these containers are the last "gift" from their friend Kirk.

Elsewhere in a cave, Tamas and his followers plot. They agree that it would be impossible to assassinate Khan as he doesn't trust anybody enough to let them near him. Tamas says that he trusts Marla. The followers are horrified at what he is suggesting, but Tamas says that Marla is not one of them, and that it needs to be done. :o

Back in the cargo shelters, Joachim and Khan are tending to the ill. Joachiim reveals to Khan that he has discovered is behind the mysterious illness that has afflicted some of his men: a tiny eel that crawled out of one of the corspe's ear :o Joachim suspects that they were subterrainian animals that came to the surface in search of food, i.e. human brains :o He also believes there is a mother creature out there that they have not found :o

Joachim then tells Khan that there is another symptom he's discovered of the afflicted :o He orders one of the patients out of bed and to stand on his head. Khan is amazed as the patient does so. :o Joachim says that afflicted patients are very susceptable to "suggestion". Khan takes Joachim with him to hunt for the mother eel to find a cure.

While outside doing an errand, Marla is captured by Tamas' men and brought to the rebel cave :o Tamas puts the eel in Marla's ear :(

Meanwhile, Khan and Joachim are out looking for the mother creature and finds it. She leaps out at Khan but Khan catches her with a gloved hand and brings it back where they put it in the plastic container we see it in in Star Trek II. :o

Khan and Joachim analyze the creature and talk about ways to get the eels to leave. They dismiss surgery and flushing with water when Marla approaches Khan from behind and tries to stab him! :O Khan manages to stop her but finds out she is infected :( She dies in a few hours and Khan realizes that this was no accident. >:O

Khan realizes that in the case that she failed, the rebels must be up to something else. He and Joachim go to the power generator to find that it is missing :O He gets angry that he has been betrayed like this and that the only person he truly cares about has been taken from him :( He says that this is now war.

Khan and Joachim forge weapons for his loyalists to wield and Khan gives a speech to rally his troops while Tamas rallies his. Both armies march out into the desert to battle. It is a vicious battle but Khan's side has the advantage :o Khan sees Tamas observing the battle rather than fighting in it and pursues him into the cave :O

Inside the cave, Tamas ambushes Khan but Khan defeats him. Joachim arrives to tell Khan that his forces have won and there were fewer casualties than he had feared. :) Tamas attacks Khan from behind but Khan is prepared and stabs him, killing him :(

Joachim congrulates Khan for his victory and that he has proven his superior intellect. Khan looks around the cave and discovers it has mushrooms and other fungus and clean water, ensuring their survival. :)

Khan goes back to the cargo containers and rips off the broken Starfleet symbol that was on the side of the container and turns it into a pendant around his neck as an ironic reminder of who stranded them on the planet and abandoned them.

Years pass.

One day Khan and his band see a pair of transporter beams in the distance. They go to the cargo containers and see Captain Terrell and Chekov exit them in spacesuits. Khan says that their salvation has arrived and to greet their guests...

:o

I wonder what happens next? :o

>_>;;

Review:

I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I picked this up in my local library but I dun think I was expecting a story that had so little going on but yet so much character development :) I thought maybe lots happened to embitter Khan, but I think it's rly effective that it wasn't like all sorts of crazy happenings or creatures or something :)

Also I didn't think I'd feel so bad for everybody :( I sympathized with both Tamas and Khan. They rly did their homework w/ watching "Space Seed" and also extrapolating from that episode what Khan's personality was like pre-Star Trek II and how being defeated by Kirk would affect him. I rly felt bad that he felt betrayed by Kirk and also shocked that the Enterprise or another ship DIDN'T come back to check up on them -_-;; I mean even if you thought that the explosion was Ceti Alpha V, Starfleet would still check it out wouldn't they? Especially since they know how smart and dangerous Khan can be, wouldn't they be worried that a planetary explosion could be caused BY him? Or just to make sure that he wasn't discovered by some other ship and made his escape? As Khan says, it's in their best interests to help... but no :(

That to me was the one weakness of the book. I was thinking about halfway through that they were going to flash to the Federation and give us a plausible explanation as to why nobody checked on Khan, that way we know that Khan is raging against innocent people. :\ But it seems his greivances have some foundation -_-;; (I'm also shocked how Starfleet can be so out of it that they dunno that the planet Ceti Alpha VI blew up and Ceti Alpha V is not Ceti Alpha VI... I mean just COUNTING the planets should alert you something's up, besides all the math and astronomy that would let you know what happened in that solar system)

I rly like how they made Khan kinda trusting... even if he's "evil" he was a born and bred noble. And in that way he kind of shows that he has noble simple principles. Also that his ego wouldn't allow him to think that Kirk's defeat was a sign of weakness on his part, but instead he had to elevate Kirk up, which is why he seemed to believe that Kirk would come. (they also sully Kirk a bit at the beginning, cuz in Space Seed, Kirk seems earnest in wanting to not send Khan to prison, but here he says he fears Khan will take it over, so his intentions are hardly pure themselves :o )

I sympathize w/ Tamas a lot too, b/c Khan DOES seem unable to make hard decisions and he seems obsessed with Kirk. Which I think he is. It's interesting how the writer's made his obsession a POSITIVE obsession which turned into a negative one. :\ B/c he credits Kirk for leaving there, it then turns into blame. His idolizing of Kirk for defeating him turns into bitterness.. :\

I guess if I had another complaint it would be that the story is mostly about Khan and Tamas, and Marla and Joachim dun do v much. Joachim exists to exposit a lot so we know the situation as time passes basically :\ Altho they do show that he is loyal to Khan from beginning to end to explain his actions in the movie, and how his loyalty kept him alive when Khan wins, but kills him when Khan loses (an interesting thing about blind loyalty I guess xD )

Marla on the other hand, for somebody who was kinda a big part in the episode, other than telling Khan how awesome he is at the beginning, she doesn't do nething at all :( She basically serves her purpose, to be used as the assassin and die. But we dun learn nething about her. She's basically a checkmark on the "Star Trek II prequel list" :\ "Kill off Khan's wife using the eel" CHECK! >_<

That was v disappointing :( Not just cuz she's a female char and they fridged her (I mean we knew she was going to die) but that she doesn't DO nething. It's easy to understand why Tamas doesn't see Marla as one of them. :\ It's not just his bias, but Khan keeps saying she's "the superior woman" (like in Space Seed) but they dun show her doing nething other than romp around in a mesh catsuit o_O If she DID things, or SAID things, then at least we can understand that.

But I also think that's the point. That we also get to see that despite his intellect, Khan is just rly a mass of feelings that he justifies using his intellect :\ He thinks Marla is sexy and loves her, so she's "superior" and more intelligent than regular humans. He respects Kirk, so he pins all his hopes on Kirk coming back, even though Tamas' attempts at survival are rly what saved them (discovering the cave, not being content w/ sitting around and waiting for help). Later he's angry and bitter, so he blames Kirk. In the movie, he chases Kirk into the Nebula when he could just have used Genesis to create a new home for him and his ppl.

Adding to that and his feelings is his ego. He likes Marla so she MUST be a "superior" woman... Kirk beat him so he MUST be this godlike figure who can save them...

Khan is just one giant ball of feelings and impulses. And I think THAT if nething made the book rly worth it. :) The writer's rly fleshed out his char. I mean we all know he's hateful and vengeful in Star Trek II, but we dun rly know who he is, or why he's like that, and I have a much better idea after reading this :)

And Tamas... poor Tamas :( He's Khan's opposite. Unfeeling and logical. (sound familiar btw? xD ANOTHER interesting thing :) Khan is Kirk :) ) His decisions are made to ensure survival, tho many might die. Khan's decisions are about satiating his faith, or his desires, or his anger. :\ Khan rallied his followers at the end talking about trust and faith and loyalty. Tamas talked about survival.

It's rly interesting to me how the writer's set this up actually. :) Maybe they didn't mean to... but it's RLY interesting to analyze. I mean, if Khan had kept Tamas by his side and listened to him, he might have succeeded.

I think it's interesting b/c in Star Trek II, Kirk's trust and faith got him almost killed by the Reliant. His emotions and perserverance are his strength and his weakness. Like how cheating on the Kobiyashi Maru got him a pass, but he never learned a lesson from it. And Khan is the same way. He survived b/c of Tamas, he didn't learn to make hard decisions. And he chases Kirk into the Nebula...

And who ends up saving Kirk at the end? Spock. Logical Spock xD

It's very ironic and interesting to me, how this book kinda sets that up. Khan had his own Spock and he killed him. (in a way Tamas died to saved HIM too)

Neways, so yeah :) Everything else was paint by the numbers prequeling... the cargo containers being sealed, the eel mother being captured (it lived for 20 years? o_O ) Explaining how they managed to survive for so long (tho where is the water in the cave coming from? o_O ) And Khan putting that Starfleet pendant around his neck.

But yeah, as I said, it's amazing how little happened and yet how much we learned about Khan and what a great job the writer's did (IMO) of paralleling Khan and Kirk as people, which also explains why Khan believes in Kirk so much, b/c Kirk is in many ways HIM.

I still feel bad for them all tho :( They were doing so well... and then things went pear-shaped :( Stupid Kirk >:\ I rly think they should have given us an explanation, so we know Khan is blaming somebody wrongly.

The art in the book is rly good :D Except there's a brown haired woman wearing the exact same mesh catsuit that Marla wears that I had trouble realizing wasn't Marla (she was one of Tamas' co-conspirators). They should have changed her hair or skin colour or something :\ But the art is very solid and pretty, and they rly do the expressions on ppl's faces well so you can tell what they are feeling without them having to exposit about it :)

Neways, so that's it :D I rly enjoyed it :) I dunno if it's worth whatever it would cost. But if you have some cash, I think it'd make a great present to yourself or the Trek(ie/er/etc) in your life :)

Angelwings Rating: 4/5

Recommendation: It's not very exciting, but it's a rly well written and scripted book that teaches us a lot about Khan and what he learned... and what he didn't learn

3 comments:

smurasaki said...

I always thought the fact that no one checked up on Khan was rather odd. But that is canon.

Sounds like an interesting, if depressing, read.

Joel Bryan said...

Yeah, it's kind of odd that with all its interest in scientific exploration, Starfleet never bothered to investigate an exploding planet. Limited resources and too many exploding planets, I guess. And also narrative necessity.

I like your take on Khan's personality here, too. Great analysis. That whole thing about how Marla "must" be superior reminds me of an exchange you had with someone in your other blog once where he insisted you weren't a feminist because your arguments were logical and made sense! The ego on some people!

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