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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness (Part 1) "Countdown to Darkness" Part 1
Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #1
Story: Roberto Orci and Mike Johnson
Script: Mike Johnson
Artist: David Messina
Cover by David Messina
January 2013


The Enterprise investigates a technological anomaly on the otherwise primitive planet of Phaedus.


Read the full story summary of this issue at Memory Beta


Notes from the Star Trek Chronology


The 4-part Countdown to Darkness mini-series leads into the 2013 film Star Trek Into Darkness.


Didja Notice?


The opening narrative of this issue on the inside front cover implies that it has only been a matter of months since the Enterprise defeated Nero in The Vengeance of Nero. But "Return of the Archons" Part 1 implies that it takes place 18 months after that. So, shouldn't this story say something similar, like "18 months" or "year-and-a-half" or "nearly two years" so as to avoid a suggestion of something less than a year?


On pages 1-5, Spock dreams of an altered version of events on Vulcan as originally seen in The Vengeance of Nero.


Spock's mother and the Vulcans in his dream are dressed similarly, but not exact, to the clothing they wore in this scene in The Vengeance of Nero.


On page 6, we see a couple of the decorations in Spock's quarters seen previously in "Operation Annihilate" Part 2 and in various episodes of the original Star Trek TV series.


Page 7 reveals that Uhura has begun to feel that she only ever sees Spock on the bridge anymore, not in private.


On panel 1 of page 11, Spock has brought up a schematic image on the holoscreen of the planet Phaedus, around which the Enterprise currently orbits to conduct a distance study of the primitive civilization on it. But in panel 5 the image is suddenly labeled Organia! Organia was the planet of the seemingly omnipotent Organians who went on to enforce a peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingon Empire in the original series episode "Errand of Mercy". Was our current story originally written with Organia in mind and the element in this panel was mistakenly left in?


Starting with "Countdown to Darkness" Part 2, the planet is referred to as Phaedus IV instead of simply Phaedus.


During the pre-release publicity for the film Star Trek Into Darkness, Paramount Pictures had a website called, which featured photos and character videos for the film. The John Harrison page featured a secret Starfleet memorandum about the renegade agent. Page 1 of the memorandum mentions Harrison having a mission to report on Klingon activity near Phaedus IV. The website no longer exists, but a copy of the Starfleet memorandum concerning Harrison can be viewed at


On page 12, Sulu remarks that his last planetside mission was the "Archon thing". This is a reference to the events of "Return of the Archons" Parts 1 and 2.


In panels 2 and 4 of page 19, Kirk has only two rings on the cuffs of his tunic. He is depicted accurately with three rings (denoting the rank of captain) elsewhere in the issue, however.


The final page of this issue introduces Captain Robert April. April was the first captain of the Enterprise in the original ST universe, as revealed in the animated series episode "The Counter-Clock Incident".


Unanswered Questions


Why does Sulu ask to accompany the landing party to the planet? Is it because he is secretly an agent of Section 31 (or whatever group he was asked to join in "Return of the Archons Part 1")?


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