The Klingons of Star Trek have a long, storied history of having their long, storied history explored and evolved every time we see them. Star Trek: Discovery's take on them is no different, but these new Klingons have been shrouded in mystery. Until now, that is, thanks to the new Discovery comic.
Image: IDW. Art by JK Woodward.
IDW's four-part Discovery comic is set before the events of the rapidly-approaching TV series, and will explore the background of Chris Obi's character T'Kuvma, the leader of the faction of Klingons we meet in the show, and how he's come to stand a little separately from his fellow Klingons in the Empire. We sat down with series co-writer Mike Johnson to learn more about Discovery's Klingons and the new comic. Check out our interview below, as well as an exclusive piece of cover art from Star Trek: Mirror Broken artist JK Woodward, making its debut here.
What can you tell us about the Discovery comic (before CBS presumably sets its phasers to disintegrate us)?
Mike Johnson: CBS doesn't disintegrate, they just stun, for legal reasons. But I can tell you that our four-issue series tells the origin of T'Kuvma, the leader of the Klingons we meet in the first episode of the show. He has very strong ideas about what the future holds for his people, ideas that not all Klingons share.
Discovery is being kept under very tight wraps. What's your relationship been like with people working on the show while writing the comic? What's it been like being in the playground of this new time period and continuity?
Johnson: I am blessed to be co-writing the comic with Kirsten Beyer, who is a writer on the show (as well as an acclaimed Star Trek novelist). The show and the studio have embraced the idea of telling Discovery stories in comics and novels, and have given the writers all the access we could ask for, from the very beginning.
How has your approach to writing this series differed from your previous Trek comic work, such as the movie prequel books?
Johnson: For the movie prequels, I was lucky to be working for Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci at the time, so the stories in the comics were as closely woven into the events of the movies as possible. That luck has continued with the show. The difference is that audiences already had a sense of who Kirk, Spock and the gang were (even before the 2009 movie). With Discovery, nobody has seen these characters before, so we are creating something new for the audience, which is both exciting and intimidating.
What can you tell us about your take on Discovery's Klingons? Where do we find the Empire going into the series?
Johnson: I'm getting close to the big field full of spoiler-mines, so I'll step carefully. I can say that the Klingons we meet are still intrinsically Klingon in the way we've come to know them over the years. But both the show and this comic shows aspects of their culture that we have never seen before.
Most of what fans have learned about Klingon culture and history has come from The Next Generation and onward. Given Discovery's own twist in its portrayal of the species, was it a challenge to keep things in "canon" with the past shows or were you given more of a free reign with how you used them?
Johnson: Since Discovery takes place before the original series, we are taking cues about the Klingons' past from what we have learned about them in subsequent shows. In our comic, this is particularly true when it comes to the legendary Klingon leader Kahless, who casts a long shadow over the events we will witness.
Will we be seeing much of what Starfleet is up to in the series, or will the perspective stay specific to the Klingon side of things?
Johnson: This story stays strictly on the Klingon side of things, going into more detail about their perspective on the Federation and the state of play as the show begins. It's a great opportunity to show that the Klingons are not villains. They are an alien species with their own civilisation, filled with individuals with their own dreams, ambitions and vendettas.
Discovery's take on the final frontier is a big step for Star Trek as a franchise. What do you hope fans take from the new world being presented in your comic?
Johnson: I hope readers dedicate themselves to the teachings of Kahless and confess undying loyalty to the Klingon Empire. Short of that, I hope they enjoy seeing the events of Discovery through a different light, and gain a new perspective on characters they meet in the show.
The first issue of the Star Trek: Discovery will hit shelves in October.