Star Trek: Klingons: Blood Will Tell (written by Scott Tipton and David Tipton with art by David Messina, originally published as a five issue miniseries) is deeply enmeshed with existing Star Trek continuity. The book’s main plot presents the Klingon perspective of the inciting events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Throughout the book a series of flashback give the same alternate perspective treatment to four episodes of the original Star Trek series. I can only imagine the pleasure a diehard Star Trek: The Original Series fan would take in this book; I’m more of a Next Generation or Deep Space 9 fan. I enjoyed the comic but couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing out on something.
The main plot centers on Kahnrah, a member of the Klingon High Council whose vote is expected to break the council’s deadlock on the question of whether or not to approach the Federation for help dealing with the explosion of the Klingon moon Praxis (which is the premise of Star Trek VI). As Kahnrah grapples with the question of whether or not the Klingons can trust the humans, he shares his concerns with his granddaughter, K’ahlynn. In the first four issues of the miniseries, Kahnrah shares four stories of their family members who have had dealings with the humans (each of these stories follows the events of a Original Series episode). After finishing his fourth tale, Kahnrah reaches a decision. In the final issue he faces an unexpectedly perilous journey to the High Council’s chamber to cast a vote that promises to change the course of Klingon civilization.
My first time through the book I simply followed what was on the page, glossing over the bits referencing people or events I wasn’t familiar with. This approach worked pretty well. Each flashback story was well-presented and gave an interesting view into Klingon culture. The framing story was less engrossing as I wasn’t entirely sure what had happened on Praxis or why it was a big deal. Overall, the story assumes and relies upon a lot of familiarity with the Star Trek franchise. I could tell things were being name-checked or shorthanded and I wasn’t in the know, which is always a frustrating experience.
Luckily, David Messina’s art made up for a lot of my frustration with the writing. His dark colors and heavy lines set a properly savage mood. I’m a bit surprised the book didn’t contain more straight out brawling, since it’s focused on Klingons, but the fight scenes thst were included were portrayed well, with a strong tension and energy. I was particularly impressed with his faces. I never envy an artist who has to draw recognizable television characters and then make them emote, but Messina does a really good job of it.
One of the flashback stories seemed like it might be the Klingon side of “The Trouble with Tribbles,” a Original Series episode I’ve never actually seen but know of through nerd-osmosis. Nothing in the book says anything about specific connections to existing Star Trek shows or movies, but a quick trip to the Internet explained it all. A second read-through with frequent stops to Google character and place names led to a deeper appreciation of the book. I have to assume the authors figured the intended audience would easily recognize the characters and events they reference and I heartily recommend this book to anyone who thinks their Star Trek: The Original Series knowledge is up to snuff (super-fans will also appreciate the inclusion of a Klingon language version of the first issue). Those who like the Star Trek universe but are more familiar with later series might still give this book a look. Those who are new to Star Trek should give it a pass.