The “new” mythology of Starfleet began with the brand-reviving J.J. Abrams film Star Trek in 2009 and extended with Star Trek Into Darkness this summer, but the canon is not limited to those silver screen cornerstones — the events chronicled in the Paramount videogame also “count as canon” (as Trek producer and writer Roberto Orci has pointed out on many occasions) as do the events in the Star Trek comic books from IDW Publishing, the fourth largest comic book publisher in America (since 2011) and a brand that just posted the best market-share month in its 14-year history.
Issue No. 22 of the IDW Trek series arrives this week at stores and, as the After Darkness title suggests, it takes the story beyond the events depicted in Star Trek Into Darkness and, in doing so, becomes the first official Trek tale in any medium to take the story baton past the most recent film’s Khan story.
And (with Orci’s guidance as the creative consultant on the comics series) it may hint about the priorities for the next cinematic mission. To learn more about the spirit of the IDW series, we mind-melded with writer Mike Johnson (who is teamed with artist Erfan Fajar on story pages and the gifted Tim Bradstreet on select covers) to find out if he’s in Federation space or out of his Vulcan mind.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The rhythms of Star Trek feel different than anything else in sci-fi and I imagine it’s daunting to maintain the tricky balances within all of that. Or do you think I’m overstating the singular nature of Starfleet fiction?
MIKE JOHNSON: I do think there are hallmarks of Star Trek stories that are unique among big pop culture franchises. Above all, Trek embodies a fundamental optimism about the future (even in a movie called Into Darkness). Everywhere we look these days we see how bad the future’s going to be: zombie hordes, alien invasions, teenagers shooting arrows at each other. But Trek shows that we made it to the 23rd century, and we have cool spaceships and flying cars and a united, peaceful planet. It doesn’t mean bad things never happen. But they aren’t the only things that happen.