I don't keep it a secret that I hated 'Star Trek: Into Darkness', one of the more miserable movie going experiences for me since I accidentally watched 'X-Men: First Class' in a theater/nightclub. I also disliked the little comic prequel they did, something I spent actual money on because the prequel book to 2009's 'Star Trek' actually did a good job helpfully setting up events in the film that otherwise went unexplained. Instead 'Countdown to Darkness' told a completely unrelated story with the meager benefit of understanding a single throw-away line about Mudd in the resulting film (REMEMBER?). With all this baggage, I had no interest or intention of reading 'Star Trek: Khan', a prequel comic that gives us some backstory on the villain with the fetish for crushing people's skulls. That said, I did anyway, and the final book may not be incredibly creative but it does amusingly go about the thankless job of mopping up a couple plot holes that Orci, Kurtzman, and Lindelof gleefully littered the franchise with.
Khan is on trial, apparently afforded the right to one only after committing a couple hundred 9-11s when he crashed the Vengeance into San Francisco. It's revealed that, yes, in this universe at one point Khan did indeed look distinctly more like a certain dashing Latino actor, but at some point got a Caucasifying to end up all Cumberbatchy, an addressed point that had me laughing as I read it.
Khan is asked to explain this inconsistency and the mass murderer sees this as an invitation to tell his whole life story from childhood on, because origin comic. We find out even more things retained from the original continuity, as the comic starts in the mid-1970's, where Indian children were kidnapped and genetically modified to be perfect super-soldiers, resulting later in the Eugenics War of the 90's. It's a nice touch, and starts the origin off well, showing that Mike Johnson (and perhaps story consultant Roberto Orci) thought to do research. The following isn't incredibly exciting, a blend of other post-'Enders Game' children-trained-to-be-weapons stories without dramatic breaks from cliché. It is decently written though, and moves briskly in order to keep room for other parts in Khan's life in the later issues. The art is what you'd expect from a post-film licensed comic, somewhat sterile and matter-of-fact.
I expect this is the comic that had to be gotten out of the way for the more interesting stuff, moving on in future issues to the Eugenics War and presumably Khan's unfreezing and work under Admiral Marcus. Reading the book reminded me somewhat of Dark Horse's 'Clone Wars' series, not in terms of quality but rather telling stories that ultimately would have been better to see on the big screen that what we got. It's a passable book, not worth going out of the way for if you aren't passionate about Nu-Trek, but more interesting than I would have given it credit for.
Writer: Mike Johnson Artist: David Messina and Claudia Balboni Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/16/13