‘Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s the City on the Edge of Forever’ review
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
I will admit I am not the biggest Star Trek fan. I much prefer the character-driven, sci-fi exploits of narratives such as Star Wars. However, even I am aware of the classic episode The City on the Edge of Forever from the original Star Trek series.
Written by speculative fiction master Harlan Ellison, the episode is praised as one of the greatest that the franchise has ever produced. Despite all of this, Ellison was notoriously furious with it and the changes that were made to his screenplay.
Adapted by brother duo Scott and David Tipton, who are responsible for many of the Star Trek graphic novels produced by IDW Publishing, this graphic novel stays remarkably close to the original script by Ellison.
Much of the narrative from the episode is unchanged. A crew member beams down to an unknown planet and encounters a time portal to 1930s America. Through his actions the course of history is changed, requiring Kirk and Spock to also travel through time in order to set things right.
The changes that were made to the story are subtle—the most notable being that in this adaptation the crew member wasn’t the lovable McCoy but a character named Beckwith. The narrative still focusses on theological, philosophical, and moral dilemmas highlighting themes of loss, determinism, and the “hero complex”—the desire to save everyone.
The art by J.K. Woodward is extremely realistic, to the point where I think it’s a little creepy. Made to look like screen-capped tableaus from the original episode, each panel has the aesthetic of a 1967 oil painting. My personal sense of aesthetics aside, the end result is impressive.
After having read this graphic novel, I will say that it has definitely made it onto my quintessential recommendations shelf. This is probably one of the best examples of multimedia adaptation I have ever encountered.