Combining Two Iconic Tales

All you have to do is read my bio to know I am a huge Star Trek fan. Among all of the many Star Trek TV shows, the Original Series is the Magnum Opus as far as I am concerned. However, I am also a big fan of the other series that spawned from Gene Roddenberry’s original Space Opera. Two of the Original Series episodes that have inspired more than a few adaptations are Space Seed and Mirror, Mirror. Leave it to writer par excellence J.M. DeMatteis to “meld” the two stories into a new and original exploratory tale. In Hell’s Mirror, DeMatteis examines how the Khan Noonien Singh saga might have played out if he and his fellow genetic Supermen had been found in Mirror, Mirror‘s alternate reality.

Planting an Alternate Seed

One such change in this adaptation is that the Botany Bay (the ship that Khan and his group are found in) is not recovered by the Federation, or even the Empire. It is instead found by a small, ragtag group of anti-Empire rebels. They are the ones who awaken Khan and his followers. This proves to be fertile ground for Khan. The Empire is everything his band of superior beings were created to defeat. It proved too easy for the persuasive, seductive and strong willed Khan to gather these rebels into the fold. In time, they grew in numbers and power. So much so that they eventually came onto the Empire’s radar. Khan and his “Federation” needed to be stopped. Especially when it was learned that Khan was developing a new Secret weapon: The Satori Project.

[Satori (悟り) is a Japanese Buddhist term for awakening, “comprehension; understanding”. It is derived from the Japanese verb satoru.] Ever the word Smith, is Mr. DeMatteis.

What are YOU Willing to Do?

The impending conflict leads to an important question. As Nick Fury asked Thor in the Avengers: “What are you willing to do?” This question becomes one of the main philosophical differences between the Empire and Khan. “What are you willing to do?“ Hells Mirror examines this question using the main antagonists Kirk and Khan. (Like it could come down to anyone else). As it develops, it is revealed that one is willing to make morally questionable choices to achieve their goals. I’ll leave it to you to decipher how that goes.

The story also examines the power of knowledge. It comes as no surprise that J.M. explores the influence and possible life changing  values that the great literature from the past or present could produce. Especially to those who have been denied access to such works. So it comes down to what holds sway, Knowledge or Power. And perhaps, if there may eventually be room for both.


This is a thought provoking story on many levels. Beyond the two questions mentioned above, it also brings the character of Spock into sharp relief. While one might expect Kirk or Khan to base decisions on emotional pulls, it seems out of character for Spock to readily concede the current events, even the alternate reality version. How does logic support some of the choices made? Of course, the Spock of Mirror, Mirror fame, was unusually barbaric (when compared to the Spock we all know. ask Mr. Kyle). If this case, Spock is not taking any physical action, he’s just behaving as an observer to the confrontation. Does this alleviate his responsibility in the events that transpired? That is his burden for logic to reconcile. If it can.

Another thing that proves to be true, a man’s weakness appears to remain a weakness no matter the reality viewed. For Khan, one of his weaknesses in the original time line reveals itself here. Hubris. His belief in himself and his genetic superiority. Then and now, he refuses to believe that his superiority would not lead to his victory. That no one is strong enough to resist his will. Would he be right this time? Read the book my friends.


A great Star Trek story needs a great artist to bring it home. For Hell’s Mirror, IDW tabbed Matthew Dow Smith. He had the unenviable job of depicting characters well known and loved. Score one for Mr. Smith. His renditions of Khan, Kirk and Spock were spot on and necessary to pull this story off. When combined with Candice Hans color work and letterer Neil Uyetake, you have a well written, attractive book that is crying for another story adaptation. Soon. There are plenty of Star Trek stories just waiting for the DeMatteis, Smith touch.

If you are a fan of Star Trek, especially the Original Series, Hell’s Mirror is a must read. It is nice to see how a classic Star Trek story might have ended up with just a simple twist of time and space…and J.M. DeMatteis. Let us know what you think here at Geek Vibes Nation.

IDW’s Star Trek Hell’s Mirror is now available on digital on ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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