Counting the days until "Star Trek” arrives in theaters in May? So is IDW Publishing. As it enters its third year of publishing "Star Trek” comics, IDW is releasing "Star Trek: Countdown,” an official lead-in to the film. The first issue of the four-issue miniseries was released in comic book stores last week. "Star Trek: Countdown” is written by Mike Johnson and Tim Jones from a plot by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the screenwriters for the new "Trek” movie. The film, directed by J.J. Abrams, features a young new cast portraying classic "Trek” characters such as Capt. Kirk, Dr. McCoy and Mr. Spock. "Countdown” serves as a prequel and bridges the gap between the last "Trek movie” — 2002’s "Star Trek: Nemesis,” which featured the "Star Trek: The Next Generation” cast — and the new film. "It’s our way of passing the baton from the ‘Next Generation’ characters and their movies to the new film,” Orci said in a press release announcing the new comic. How the story ties into both films isn’t clear, since the "Next Generation” movies occur after the original adventures of Kirk and his comrades. What is known is that the comic book introduces Nero, the Romulan villain played by Eric Bana in the new movie, and that the movie involves time travel. If you want more details, you’ll have to read the series — and see the film. "This is obviously a movie that is a big, big event, and information is almost on a lockdown basis,” says Scott Dunbier, who helms IDW’s "Star Trek” comics. Though he just took over the line, it’s familiar territory for Dunbier. He edited several "Trek” comics for a few months when he joined IDW last spring and also was involved with the franchise while working at WildStorm, which previously held the license to publish "Star Trek” comics. Despite having to navigate studio approvals and dealing with characters who have decades of history on TV and in film, "it really isn’t any different than editing other comics,” he says. The key is staying true to the nature of those characters, he says. "These characters are universal characters; these characters are icons, especially the characters going back to the first series.” McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
IDW’s Trek line continues to consist of one-shots and limited series. Other titles on the horizon: →The six-part "Star Trek: Crew,” written and drawn by comics veteran John Byrne, launches in March. The miniseries, set eight years before the events of "The Cage,” an episode of the original "Star Trek,” centers on a cadet — destined to become an officer on the Enterprise — who is assigned to a shakedown cruise of an uncommissioned starship. →Issue No. 1 of the five-issue "Star Trek: Mission’s End,” written by Ty Templeton and illustrated by Steve Molnar, arrives in March and looks at the first and last days of James T. Kirk on the Enterprise. →An adaptation of the 1982 film "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” begins in April.