I’ve sat here, in front of my computer now, for five minutes trying to figure out what I really want to say about this comic. This is because I don’t want to form an opinion as strong as I did form within the first three pages because I don’t know where the comic is going to go in the next issue.
Unfortunately, it looks like I’m going to have to, and accept that next month I may be eating my words.
So, let’s begin.
What I can glean from this issue is the plot follows the trial of Khan Noonien Singh, who clearly deserves a trial after blowing sh*t up and murdering most of the admiralty. I’m okay with this. But by page three, the question is asked “Why don’t you look like Ricardo Montalbán?”, and I start to worry… a lot.
Well, there were some very serious accusations of white-washing present in the hiring of Benedict Cumberbatch to play Khan. And yes, while I think Cumberbatch did an amazing job, Hollywood’s inability to properly represent the people of the world is displayed prominently in the choice. It’s hard enough for people of color to get jobs acting as it is, especially when the part isn’t a stereotype but one that is as cold, intelligent, and calculating as Khan is. Taking away that representation is absolutely an example of white-washing, whether it was meant to be or not.
Essentially, then, trying to explain why Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan is not a person of a color in the comic smacks far too much like trying to retroactively legitimize the act, which is not appropriate in any form.
As such, I’m worried. However, I will reserve judgment beyond that of just “I’m worried” until I read the next few issues to see where it is really going.
In any case, ‘Star Trek Khan’ has the artwork you expect from the ‘Star Trek’ comic franchise, which is to say clean and fairly nice looking. It is interesting to note that the flashback and the present day are done by separate artists. The former is done by Claudia Balboni and it looks fantastic, and the latter done by who we usually think of for the comics, David Messina. Other than that, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to comment on.
Oh wait, I’m a hugely nit-picky ‘Star Trek’ fan. I forgot. Of course there are things to comment on.
First, Khan is asked to tell his story at a trial (which doesn’t really seem like the way court proceedings usually go, but whatever), it’s immediately told from the perspective of one of the scientists who augmented him…. So, that’s a huge narrative disconnect that I’m not quite ready to jump over.
Next, it’s highly insinuated in this issue that Khan is from the first batch of Augments, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense seeing as Augments were created out of selective breeding and genetic modification… and it’s seems like Khan was just found on the streets… which means the selective breeding thing didn’t really happen. Instead, they just messed with his genes… I think. I’m not entirely clear. .
Now, me and the ‘Star Trek’ comics are usually almost always at odds when it comes to what is canon, so what I’m going to try and do this time is just to leave my concerns here, not jump to any conclusions, and see what happens in the next issue.
Or, in the words of Khan,
STAR TREK KHAN #1
WRITTEN BY Mike Johnson
PENCILS by David Messina and Claudia Balboni