Something to fill the hole in my heart: Starshift Crisis
Weird alien nomenclature from Starshift Crisis
Earlier this year, something happened in the world of pop-culture that hasn't happened in 18 years. A Star Trek series aired its final episode, and there was no new Star Trek series to replace it. Now, of course we don't know if this means the ultimate end of Star Trek (the cast of Next Generation has already stated that they won't be making any more movies, and none of the other shows has been popular enough to warrant a trip to the big screen), or if there's another series already in the works to attempt to reboot the popular franchise yet again. For most people, the void began at the end of May with the airing of the final episode. For me, it came earlier tonight. You see, I don't have TV in my apartment (I have a TV set, but no cable and no antenna), so I get my ever-loving Trekker parents to tape the shows for me and then send me the tapes en masse every half season. I got a little behind this summer and only got around to watching the second half of this season of Enterprise this week, and finished it up tonight. There were some highs (The initial alliance and battle against the Romulon remotely-controlled ship) and some lows (The unnecessary and overly-preachy "alternate world" two-parter), but overall I enjoyed it as much as I have the other series. While the final episode could never match the ending of The Next Generation for sheer perfection, it wasn't bad.
But I disgress. The point of this post is that with the absence of Star Trek, there's something of a hole in my heart. A desire for more sci-fi entertainment, be it serious or humorous (Star Trek could be both). And so I turned to my latest obsession, webcomics, and found Starshift Crisis.
For those of you that don't know, Starshift Crisis is actually the second webcomic made by the talented Kristopher Straub, of Checkerboard Nightmare fame. It began when Blank Label Comics began, and whether that was Straub using Blank Label as an excuse to start a new comic or Straub using a new comic to help start up Blank Label I can't say, but what I can say is that it is pretty darn hilarious. It follows the adventures of Memnon Vanderbeam, curator of the first intergalactic art museum, a converted luxury battleship which flies around the spreading high art to all the species of the universe. For his crew he has a lazy ex-pirate and an insect named Jinx with an anatomy that defies description.
Now obviously, it would be easy to draw parallels between this strip and Freefall, which I mentioned only one post below, but that would be doing a disservice to both strips. Trying to compare the two would be roughly the equivalent of comparing an Isaac Asimov novel with a transcript of "The Best of Both Worlds" Parts 1 and 2. Both are works of science fiction. Both are among the greatest work for their particular area (if you don't think "The Best of Both Worlds" is the greatest Star Trek episode ever, you are DUMB). But both are completely incomparable to each other. So let's just look at Starshift Crisis as it stands alone.
Here we have a strip that pokes humor in all possible ways using both subtlety and oversity. I love that Memnon wears the equivalent of a Star Trek captain's uniform with a tie. I love that Cutter parodies the space-rogue archetype ranging from Han Solo to Korben Dallas. I love the obvious similarities between Jinx and the beloved Zorak on Space Ghost. But I also love such gags as when the Fuseli is being destroyed by space pirates and Memnon considers playing it off as an avante-garde exhibit. Straub is able to not only poke fun at various sci-fi cliches, he also pokes fun at the high-class, snooty world of art and art critics, and somehow he's managed to seamlessly weave this disparate themes into a single strip and it ALL MAKES SENSE!
I'll miss Star Trek, but as long as I've got a strip like Starshift Crisis updating on a daily basis, I won't miss it too much. And as for you, you know you're going to want to read this strip some day, so you may as well start today while the archives are short and you can get through them in about a half-hour. It's only logical.