Star Trek: Villains: A guide to some of the franchise’s most iconic villains — featuring profiles and interviews.
This is a review of the digital version of the book.
I have a confession to make, and this seems as good a place as any to do it: I love the villains of Star Trek. In an ecosystem overflowing with movies, television series, comics, and books that have generic, cliched bad guys, Star Trek’s villains are head and shoulders above the rest. Partly because of the actors who play them, partly because of their colorful, striking look, and partly because of the intricate and complex nature of Trek stories the bad guys, gals, supercomputers, babies, spongy alien blobs, androids, evil clones, etc. tend to be more original and leave a more lasting impression than villain outside of the franchise. Not every one of them is as remarkable as Khan Noonien Singh but we have many more Khans than we do Gods who have needs for starships. At the heart of it, though, I think the reason why Trek villains stand out is the same reason why the good guys of Trek stand out: they are relatable, they have strong agency, and the tragedy that shapes them invokes a sense of understanding and empathy.
Did you enjoy that last paragraph? Then you’ll love Star Trek: Villains, a 179 pages cover to cover collection from Titan Comics containing essentially that kind of commentary. Actor interviews, fan discussion transcripts, analysis articles, and more snipped straight out of issues from Star Trek Magazine (now Star Trek Explorer). Movie stills, production photos, and concept art of nearly forty villains that are explored in this book grace these pages as well. Star Trek: Villains begins with a disclaimer from Titan that nothing has been changed — words, pictures, formatting, layout – in these pages in order to retain the articles’ originality.
That’s a decision with its own pros and cons. Having now been spoiled by the seeming perfectionist approach that IDW takes with their Star Trek comics or Eaglemoss does with their starships encyclopedias I can’t help but notice how disjointed the book is at first glance. The different font, page layouts, quality of photos work against the book more than they work for it. I enjoyed reading it chapter by chapter or rather villain by villain than I did on one straight readthrough. It’s much better approached as an anthology that you put on your bookshelf than it is a boom that you sit down with next to a pot of coffee for a deep dive.
The title is also unintentionally misleading because the publication leaves out quite a few villains of the Star Trek universe that deserve a spot in the book. Nearly forty Star Trek villains is a good chunk of them but for us bad guy lovers it is half empty. A good selling point would have been exclusive write-ups about other villains not touched on in the book from alumni of the magazine with new photos and interviews. Star Trek: Villains doesn’t incentivize the magazine collector in any way because all of the material in the book is already available to them. There are also villains who left a big impact on their sector of the Trek universe but only get half a paragraph in the book, sometimes less. Did we really need multiple pages for Khans from both timelines at the cost of at least a page for the female changeling? When putting a collection like this together, the decision of who is included matters as much as who isn’t.
I’m a little harsher on this book than I am with most — admittedly, because Star Trek: Villains is a welcome break from the continuing cycle of Kirk/Spock/Picard books we get that always shower endless praise on the good guys and leave the baddies out. Villains could have used sprinklings of newness and a hint of an overarching layout to make it easier on the eyes, but that this book even exists is a cherished miracle. Ultimately Star Trek: Villains is indeed worthy of your support and a win the bad guys desperately needed.
Final rating: 8 out of 10
Star Trek: Villains is now available on Amazon.
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