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.
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):
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.
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.
Star Trek: Khan debuts in October 2013.
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