J.J. Abrams and his Star Trek production crew are currently scrambling to settle on an actor to portray the mysterious villain in the Trek sequel – a character who may or may not be Khan Noonien Singh – so that production the project can actually begin before the end of January 2012.

Trek fans have nonetheless had plenty to talk about while waiting for an official announcement on that matter, thanks to recent casting additions like Peter Weller and Alice Eve, along with the not-so-comforting news that Star Trek 2 will be post-converted to 3D; though, on a more encouraging note, the film could conceivably also be partly shot for IMAX, since Abrams has expressed his interest in the format.

Today, we have a couple of extra tidbits of information to help keep all you Trekkies preoccupied. The first item of the day is that Trek comic book writer Mike Johnson has confirmed that recent rebooted movie universe tie-in issues (which are being supervised by Trek screenwriter/producer Roberto Orci) “very subtly lay in clues to the next movie [and] there might even be a tiny hint of a subplot in the first issue.”

Johnson teased TrekMovie with the news that the previously-released Star Trek comic book issue #1 featured a “subtle hint” of the movie sequel’s plot; similarly, the new fourth issue boasts some “thematic foreshadowing” but nothing so secretive that it requires any sort of elaborate puzzle-solving or elaborate deconstruction of the graphic novel ( ie. Da Vinci Code-style).

Then again – unless the new Trek comic book issue features an obvious visual clue or reference (ex. the SS Botany Bay shows up) most of those who read it are probably going to have little to no clue as to what the “subtle hint” is, given how the minds behind the new Trek movies like to play things (frustratingly?) close to the chest.

J.J. Abrams Talks the new Star Trek Timeline

Part of the reason behind the controversy surrounding the possible appearance of Khan in the Trek sequel has to do with the franchise’s rebooted timeline and whether it will or won’t drastically affect the new iteration of the villain. After all, now that none of the main Trek characters are (per se) bound to their previously-established fates, one has to wonder: could the iconic Kirk-Khan dynamic be significantly different, so much so that the latter almost feels like an entirely new antagonist?

Obviously Abrams isn’t going to spill the beans on a massive spoiler like that. However, during a talk with The Nerdist, the director did offer the following insight about the Trek movie alternate timeline in general (as some food for thought):

“Here’s the thing… I think the key to that was, first of all, it was one of those things that not everyone even cares about or understands the timeline of it all. The notion that when this one character, Nero, arrives in his ship, that basically the timeline is altered at that moment, so everything forward is essentially an alternative timeline. That is not to say that everything that happened in The Original Series doesn’t exist.

“I think, as a fan of movies and shows, if someone told me the beloved thing for me was gone, I would be upset. But we didn’t do that. We’re not saying that what happened in that original series wasn’t good, true, valid, righteous and real. Let people embrace that. We’re not rejecting that. That, to me, would have been the big mistake. We’re simply saying that, “At this moment, the very first scene in the first movie, everything that people knew of Star Trek splits off into now another timeline.”

Principal photography on Star Trek 2 (which will have a different title, when all is said and done) is slated to begin very soon, so the film can make its May 17th, 2013 U.S. theatrical release date; so, you can expect to hear an official villain casting announcement in the very near future.

Source: TrekMovie, The Nerdist (via StarTrek.com)