I never cease to be impressed by the many ways fans of Star Trek express devotion to their favorite science-fiction series.
That includes live-action independent productions, audio series and animated adventures of the crew of the starship Enterprise and other Trek characters as well.
A prolific and popular creator of animated Trek is Roland Doiron, whose screen name is RoTV. Many of his productions use avatars of the Enterprise crew from the Go!Animate Website, and he replaces voices with word balloons while setting the mood with a wide variety of background music and sound effects.
That’s the case in “Vengeance,” a seven-minute-plus episode that brings back Kang, the Klingon commander who joined forces with Captain James T. Kirk to drive away an entity that pitted Starfleet officers against Klingons during the third-season episode “Day of the Dove.”
The animated sequel begins with Captain Kirk concluding a meeting with Doctor Skylar concerning his research into terra-forming on Nomana IV.
Stating that he and his ship are due to be at Starbase 15 in two solar days, Kirk calls Scotty to beam him back to the Enterprise.
However, just as the captain materializes on the transporter pad, “something just snatched him away” to an unknown location, the chief engineer states.
But we see precisely where Kirk is: at the end of a barrel of a Klingon disruptor wielded by Kang, who tells the captain that he’s looking for just one thing: “Vengeance!”
On the bridge of the Enterprise, Mister Scott states that he’s been able to find traces of a second transporter beam.
While unable to locate where the energy originated, Scotty says he’s determined that it’s a type used by the Klingons. The first officer then orders that all shields be raised and a full sensor sweep be used to locate the source of the second energy trail.
That source is a Klingon Battle Cruiser where Kirk and Kang are now on its bridge, and the captain demands to know why he’s been captured.
Kang’s first response is that Kirk is considered an enemy of the Klingon Empire, but then adds another, more personal reason for the abduction: Because the commander agreed to work with the captain in driving away the energy creature that fed on emotion, he was deemed weak by his crew and superiors.
“When I bring you and your ship’s charred hull back to Kronos,” the Klingon states, “my reputation will be restored … and more!”
“My crew will find me and stop you,” Kirk replies, but Kang states that the Battle Cruiser is on the opposite side of the planet, and that is “obscuring your ship’s sensors.”
(Kang must have seen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, when Kirk used the same strategy against the genetic “superman.”)
“Once I cloak and orbit around,” the Klingon states, the Enterprise and its crew “will never know what hit them!”
To prevent the captain from interfering in his plan, Kang stuns Kirk with a disruptor shot and orders his crew to activate their cloaking device, which causes the Battle Cruiser to disappear in a burst of yellow energy.
Back on the Enterprise, Spock states that he has been unable to locate any warp signatures but “there seems to be evidence of impulse engine activity” that can be tracked.
The first officer then sends Scotty back to engineering because his services “will be required there shortly” and tells Lieutenant Sulu to follow the course he’d sent to the navigation system.
It doesn’t take long for Sulu to detect a spatial disturbance nearby that could be caused by a cloaked vessel.
Spock then orders the crew to get ready for battle, but McCoy tells him that the captain “is probably on that ship,” and therefore he can’t destroy it. The first officer responds that he also “can’t allow the captain to be taken prisoner.”
Moments later, another yellow burst of energy reveals the arrival of Kang’s Battle Cruiser, which immediately begins firing on the Enterprise. After that initial shot, both ships initiate evasive maneuvers and continue shooting phasers and disruptors at each other.
Spoiler Alert: If you’d rather watch the fan film’s ending yourself, skip down to the end of my review; or if not, just continue reading.
Spock then decides to fire photon torpedoes instead, and that tactic is immediately successful as the Klingon ship loses all but 10 percent of its shields and its warp drive is disabled.
In the middle of all the chaos, Kirk regains consciousness and punches Kang out of his command chair. Another phaser burst from the Enterprise causes a total systems failure and thrusts the ship into a collision course with the planet’s moon for an impact that will take place in 10 seconds.
“At least I’ll take you with me, Kirk,” Kang snarls as the Battle Cruiser generates a huge explosion when it crashes into the moon.
However, Kirk and Kang are beamed to the Enterprise transporter room in the nick of time. “Welcome aboard,” Spock tells his captain. Kirk acknowledges his first officer’s greeting and says that their “guest” will need accommodations. Scotty replies that “a nice comfy brig” has already been arranged.
Before long, everyone is back on the bridge, where Kirk learns that Kang’s actions were not sanctioned by the Klingon Empire, and the Enterprise crew is free to do with him as they see fit.
“I think returning him to his superiors will be very fitting,” the captain replies as the starship returns to exploring the final frontier.
And with that, it’s time for me to don my animated Clint Eastwood hat and get reviewing.
The Good: I always enjoy Roland’s episodes, and in a time when more 90-minute to two-hour epics are fairly common, he simply picked up where one of the Classic Trek episodes left off and used it as the basis for a brief but exciting adventure. All of the characters got their time onscreen, and we even had time for a cool space battle near the end (and long-time readers will remember how fond I am of slugfests in space).
The Bad: I can’t really complain about the use of word balloons instead of voice actors since that’s merely a question of style. However, if you’re going to use text balloons in your production, it’s probably not a bad idea to either carefully proofread the type yourself or find someone else to give it a “good scrub.” It didn’t happen a lot in “Vengeance,” but it did distract me a couple of times.
Of course, I may be more sensitive to that since I’m a writer/editor/proofreader by trade, but that’s just a suggestion from a regular viewer.
The Ugly: It’s been quite a while since I reviewed one of RoTV’s animations, in part because I try to maintain a balance in this column between formats (from live-action to audio productions and many other things in between) as well as subjects (ranging from several Trek “generations” to other science-fiction/fantasy universes, such as Doctor Who and Batman) so readers don’t find the same thing 52 weeks a year. I hope everyone who reads this column finds that variety is the spice of life … and independent productions.