‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Prequel Comic Reveals Villain Backstory

Published 2 years ago by

Star Trek Into Darkness Comic Book Khan Prequel Star Trek Into Darkness Prequel Comic Reveals Villain Backstory

It goes without saying that the following post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Star Trek Into Darkness. If you have not yet seen the film and do not want to know the identity of the main villain, you have been warned!

For over a year, moviegoers picked-over every single piece of Star Trek Into Darkness marketing, in order to figure out the role that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing in the film. Most fans assumed that Cumberbatch would play a new version of iconic Star Trek villain, Khan Noonien Singh (previously portrayed by Ricardo Montalban); however, other rumors suggested that the Sherlock actor was set for classic Starfleet member Gary Mitchell or possibly an entirely new character.

To help keep the identity a mystery, J.J. Abrams along with writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, provided the mysterious antagonist with a less suspect name, John Harrison. Still, halfway through the film, it was revealed that Harrison was nothing more than a fake identity created by Fleet Admiral Alexander Marcus to hide the character’s true nature – as genetically engineered super-human, Khan.

Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison in Star Trek Into Darkness Star Trek Into Darkness Prequel Comic Reveals Villain Backstory

Since Khan shares the same origins as his classic series counterpart, splitting from the prior storyline only at the point Admiral Marcus (instead of Kirk and the Enterprise crew) finds Khan adrift in space, Abrams didn’t spend very much time detailing the character’s backstory for Star Trek Into Darkness. While that approach worked for some fans that were already familiar with Khan, other viewers (and many critics) considered the hasty explanation of Khan’s motives and backstory to be a significant missed opportunity (or downright confusing). For all the pre-release speculation, and a strong performance from Cumberbatch, the brief time spent developing and/or exploring the character left some viewers feeling Into Darkness actually underserved the Khan’s legacy and failed to provide a good reason for bringing the villain back in the first place.

Now, in order to fill-in some of the missing information for newer fans (or anyone who wants to see the differences between the “classic” and “new” Khan timeline), IDW Publishing is set to release a six-installment prequel series that follows the creation, escape, and resurrection of Cumberbatch’s Khan. We first got word of the prequel series around the time of the original Star Trek Into Darkness release but IDW has now offered-up actual details about what fans can expect from the books.

The press release does not give a specific release date but claims the first issue will make its way to stands in October. In order to bridge the gap between movie and print, Kurtzman supervised production of the miniseries – with “veteran” Star Trek comic book alums Mike Johnson and Claudia Balboni handling story and art.

Check out the full cover for Star Trek: Khan issue #1 below (click to enlarge):

Star Trek Into Darkness Comic Book Khan 280x170 Star Trek Into Darkness Prequel Comic Reveals Villain Backstory

As mentioned, the series will trace the origins of the character, clarify how the alternate timeline impacted Khan’s original timeline and, according to Johnson, show on the “Eugenics Wars” – a key moment in Star Trek canon that was only briefly mentioned in passing during Star Trek Into Darkness:

“We’re traveling back in time to show Khan’s rise to power and give fans their first look at the legendary Eugenics Wars. As the series unfolds we will see the events that led to Khan leaving Earth aboard the Botany Bay, and then jump forward to witness his awakening in the future by Admiral Marcus.”

“Now that Into Darkness is in theaters, fans reading the ongoing series from issue #1 will pick up on details, both specific and thematic, that set up the movie and the stories that follow it.”

IDW’s Chief Creative Officer, Chris Ryall, promises that the series will help flesh-out the character and add layers that may have been missing in the recent film:

“Much like the way the Star Trek: Countdown comic book and our follow-up Nero miniseries helped flesh out that character after the first Star Trek movie. Khan will add dimension and depth to this new iteration one of the most classic villains in all of Star Trek lore.”

Countdown and Nero were both used in a similar fashion, to help provide backstory for Star Trek antagonist Nero (Eric Bana), and it’s likely that IDW will find similar success with Khan. Casual audiences will probably not need to read the upcoming comic series, as the film includes enough information to set the stakes for Into Darkness, but for filmgoers or Star Trek fans who want to explore the character’s implied backstory in greater detail, Khan should be quality non-required reading. Still, IDW promises that readers who do choose to consume the upcoming Khan comic will also find plenty of fun “Easter Eggs” that link to the larger movie and TV universe.

star trek into darkness cumberbatch harrison 570x379 Star Trek Into Darkness Prequel Comic Reveals Villain Backstory

It’s unfortunate the series wasn’t available at the time of the film’s original release – waiting six months to debut book #1 – as buzz around the character and the larger movie has certainly died-down. That said, with a Blu-ray/DVD home release scheduled for September 10th (and digital downloads available as early as August 20th), there’s bound to be plenty of new (and returning) viewers who’ll be interested to delve a bit deeper into the twisted (revised) history of Khan Noonien Singh.

In the meantime, check out our Star Trek Into Darkness episode of the SR Underground podcast (featuring a spoiler-filled interview with the film’s writer Roberto Orci).


Star Trek: Khan debuts in October 2013.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates on Star Trek as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.

Source: IDW

Follow Ben Kendrick on Twitter @benkendrick
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  1. Will this explain the skin tone difference between the original and cumberbatch?

    • Why should it?

      I assume the different universes thanks to original Spock meeting new Spock in the first movie would be explanation enough.

      • Didn’t original Spock meet new Spock in the second movie, not the first?

        Regardless, things would only change from that point forward, not backward, and Khan would have had the same origin/skin tone in both timelines. The only thing I would think might make sense is that somehow somehow in the new timeline he changed his skin tone.

        In any case what I want to know is the justification for why he has an Indian name but doesn’t look Indian at all in either movie.

        • I think you may need to rewatch the first movie…. It’s full of old/new Spock, including them meeting :)

          • Just checked, turned out I was wrong. I remembered he said/implied that they shouldn’t meet in the first, but I forgot that in the end they did. In the second film old Spock did something he knew he shouldn’t, and I thought that was not only telling his younger self about the enemy they were facing, but actually talking to him for the first time. Guess I got that mixed up.

    • My personal belief is that his genetic appearance was changed in order to fit with his new secret identity, section 31 gave him the look of a “John Harrison” to go with the name. They should address this though

  2. Season 1. Episode 22. You want to see the truth. Search there.

  3. Why is it that Orci and Kurtzman always seem to rely on a prequel comic to explain their films? To me, that should be done in the movie itself.

    • +1

  4. This comic breaks the continuity of both the original and revisted timelines. Khan and his crew were frozen before the birth of Kirk. Kirk’s birth was the appearance of Nero, causing the new timeline. Everything that has happened before Nero stays the same. Khan would still be Ricardoo Montalbon, and his previosly established backstory would be the same. An alternate timeline prequel would just be the same story told again, not a new one.

    • THIS.

      I admit to not being happy they decided to completely fly in the face of continuity after making excellent matches with Kirk, Spock and Bones (wtf happened to a Scotty match though?). You would think it was important.

      Would it have really been that difficult to find someone who had BOTH acting ability and the correct look?

      • So they should have hired another Mexican? Honestly of the issues involved with using this character – the fact they chose a fine actor like Benedict Cumberbatch is the least of them.

    • I also don’t expect that they are going to change the continuity since we have only a couple of lines from Space Seed to provide any of that.

      The only canon they may interfere with is the Greg Cox books put out a decade ago, although those probably are not considered canon.

  5. Benedict Cumberbatch looks like a sour puss bat creature and for the life of me i can’t explain why I and countless others find him so deeply attractive.

    • Because he has presence and charm as do all us Englishmen :)