sttng xmen book cover

What if Gene Roddenberry and Stan Lee had an ugly-ass baby?

ScottC’s Note: Everyone, please welcome guest columnist Greg Hyatt. When asked to describe himself, this is what he said: “I was sent from the distant future to prevent a devastating war between humanity and bionic Civil War re-enactors, Stranded in the past after the completion of his mission, I currently resides in Kansas City where I enjoy superheroes, ’80s cartoons and New Wave music.”

There have been Star Trek novels for decades. And in the nineties, Marvel Comics made sure their characters were everywhere. We got animated series, action figures, trading cards, Pogs, and novels.

Marvel also had the Star Trek license in the nineties. Which means not only did we get a line of Trek comics, we got special issues like Star TreX and Star Trek: The Next Generation/X-Men: Second Contact.

And that second title is where Star Trek: The Next Generation/X-Men: Planet X comes in. The novel is a sequel to the comic, which takes place moments after the end of the film First Contact. The crew of the Enterprise-E didn’t make it back to their time on their first attempt. They were actually thrown back to the then-present Marvel Universe where they teamed up (after a brief battle) with the X-Men. There are problems with the timeline and Kang the Conqueror asks (orders) the two groups to repair them.

Of course they do and the Enterprise crew returns to their time. (After all, you can’t alter the status quo even slightly in a licensed product!)

Except Marvel and Paramount had a novel waiting. A sequel. And this time, the X-Men visit the 24th century.

Hey, it’s only fair.

So, nobody can figure out why the X-Men have popped up in their future instead of returning home. As the crew of the Enterprise investigates, a planet is experiencing an interesting situation. They’ve got mutants. Of course, Captain Picard and his crew are the nearest ship and are sent to assess the situation. And the X-Men want in.

An alien ship is in orbit around the planet. Turns out they’re attempting to harvest these alien mutants. Oh, and the government of this planet? Rounded them up and put them in a camp.

Blah blah blah, you know what happens, even if you haven’t read the book. Picard’s crew and the X-Men team-up and beat the aliens and save the day, returning everything back to the way it was before the novel happened.

I loved this book when I was sixteen.

Don’t judge me.

Actually, go ahead. When I was sixteen I also purchased and enjoyed Smash Mouth’s debut album and drank Bud Ice. That’s not even mentioning my girlfriend at the time. (Wait, she friended me on Facebook. I hope she doesn’t read this.)

I’ve kept the novel on the bookshelf since I bought it. I hadn’t read it since I was in high school.

Until last week.

Does it hold up well?

No, not at all. The problem is… well, there are a lot of problems. The story is kind of ridiculous. I mean, superpowers don’t really work in the Star Trek universe. Sure, Counselor Troi is empathic and Q’s omnipotent and there are telepaths and shapeshifters and pretty much every alien race is superstrong, but something about the X-Men just doesn’t let them fit. Maybe it’s the costumes, maybe it’s the social message and symbolism that mutants in general and the X-Men in particular represent.

But, when I was sixteen and I’d spend hours in my room reading comic books and checking out Star Trek books from the library I worked at? I was in heaven. Which just goes to show that I had lousy taste back then. (See my previous comment about my then-girlfriend.) I don’t know how many times I read it all those years ago. Probably a lot. I was a big nerd like that. (Don’t believe me? How’s this: I had a CD player shaped like the U.S.S. Defiant that played different sound effects when you hit the various buttons. No, I’m not kidding.)

The book isn’t entirely bad. There’s a cute scene between Guinan and Wolverine in Ten-Forward. And the author makes a joke about Picard and Xavier bearing a striking resemblance a few years before Patrick Stewart was cast in the role every geek knew he should play. But the rest of the book is filled with talk of how the Starfleet crew is annoyed by the visiting/stranded X-Men (except Worf and Wolverine and a very bizarre romance between Picard and Storm), bad dialogue and ham-fisted references to previous adventures. Don’t get me wrong, I love nods to prior events, but give me a modicum of subtlety.

Oh, and don’t have Chief O’Brien appear in the same book as Banshee if you’re not going to have them interact at all.

Because that is not right.