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Kakan ni Shinkou: Star Trek - The Manga Volume 2    by Bettina Kurkoski, Christine Boylan & Wil Wheaton order for
Kakan ni Shinkou
by Bettina Kurkoski
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

I am not a Star Trek fan. I am not saying I dislike the show, I just have never watched it. However, as little as I know about the series, it was enough to find the manga version enjoyable. This volume, Kakan ni Shinkou (I have no clue what it means), contains five stories, written by different authors and illustrated by different artists. Each story focuses on a mission of the Starship Enterprise and its crew, just as the TV series does. As they deal with the races of different planets, they learn truths about all people, human or alien. Each episode ends with a message and a feeling of hope.

While I enjoyed almost all the stories, the one that stands out most for me is Communications Breakdown by Christine Boylan and Bettina Kurkoski. Perhaps it was because this was the only story done entirely by women, or maybe it was because it focused on a female protagonist, or because I am a fan of Kurkoski's OEL, My Cat Loki. Whichever it was, I connected with this story the most. It was an interesting tale of a lone rogue alien trying to turn straight in order to survive as his world was annihilated. A main part of the story was the trouble that ensued when the men of the Starship Enterprise refused to listen to Lieutenant Uhura, the female communications officer - which has a bit of humor to it, but also a bit a of truth. Aside from Boylan's well-written story, Kurkoski's illustrations seemed the closest to the actual television characters while not looking too outdated.

While there were some manga elements to each story, most were closer to Western comics, which is probably what will appeal most to Star Trek fans. Most of the stories (except for Forging Alliances) had panels that were overpowered by dialogue, with long conversations between characters, something that is a distinctly Western element. However, Forging Alliances was the story with the least manga influence in the artwork. Having a style like these stories do makes for a nice crossover from Western comics to Japanese manga.

I would be remiss in writing this review if I were to leave out David Reddick's four gag strips at the end of the anthology. While these were in the traditional Japanese four-panel format, the artwork and comedy were pure American. While the five main stories left the reader with a bitter-sweet ending, these four strips were laugh-out-loud funny. Star Trek: The Manga is an interesting way for Star Trek fans to experience their favorite TV show with new stories in a new format. For non-fans, it is a nice way to sample different Western manga authors and artists.

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