I recently read the IDW graphic novel version of City on theEdge of Forever by Harlan Ellison. It seems so strange for me to only now readthis work as I’ve been a Trekkie since I was a kid. I knew the man wrote it. Iknew he wasn’t happy with what was done with the story to make it work on network TV, but even in this day and age of instant gratification on the internet, I’d never gone to the trouble of reading the original teleplay.
Per IDW: The iconic story has been written by Harlan Ellison, Scott Tipton & David Tipton, with art by J.K. Woodward. The novel’s cover will be done by Juan Ortiz.
I like the art a great deal, but then I am used to IDW’s use of production and preproduction images to base the majority of their television based comics character’s faces. They do it in the X-Files, Star Trek Ongoing, classic Star Trek, and I wish they did it for Farscape because sometimes the characters are unrecognizable.
But this isn’t an art review. This is a Trekkie’s review of the story itself. City on the Edge of Forever was the last episode of season one of the original series (TOS). By then the bible to the show was more than a few pages thick. You can see the differences between the characterization of Spock especially if you look at the two pilot episodes (the Cage, and Where No Man Has Gone Before) and then get into the actual episodes of the show. It really is a shame that NBC did not show them in production order that makes for a very interesting rewatch as opposed to watching in the order they were aired in the 60s.
The Guardians of Time—yes Guardians—are pretty awesome, and it’s a shame we didn’t have the special effects abilities to show the City on the Edge of Forever the way it was intended.
Kirk’s parts aren’t bad at all. They’re seldom out of character, and when they are it’s because this story has little to do with Star Trek canon, which I will speak of when I get to Spock. And it was obvious this treatment would never fit into a 50 minute television episode. There is simply too much ground covered.
Edith Keeler was still Edith Keeler, and to this day she’s the only woman Jim was involved with that I approved of. She was worthy of him, and he was worthy of her. They fit and it is still one of the saddest love stories of all time. I cried for Edith and Jim’s loss when I was 12!
Dr. McCoy was barely featured in the story. Uhura was not there at all. Yeoman Rand kicked some serious ass. I guess Ellison did love his blondes because Rand was the only character to benefit from his script.
Then there’s Spock. Spock’s lines, beliefs, and behaviors made me cringe. He was incredibly out of character, and I had the impression that in the original script that Ellison couldn’t be bothered to read the bible about Spock. He also knew nothing of Vulcan in general. In this story Earth reached the stars first not Vulcan by two hundred years.
I admit that I’m not sure when it became canon that Vulcan was in space for 2000 years before coming to Earth, as the Romulans were able to splinter off from Vulcan when Surak’s teachings became the norm for the planet, but it is still inconceivable to have humans in space before Vulcan. I suppose it became canon when Spock said the Romulans in Balance of Terror were offshoots of his ancestors.
All in all, if you’re curious about the original story, then you should read the story. Enjoy it for the art, Edith and Janice, but take off your Trekkie Goggles and Vulcan ears because you’ll want to slam your head into a wall. #startrek #cityontheedgeofforever