Star Trek: Hell's Mirror Review: Mirror Universe Khan vs. Kirk

Star Trek: Hell's Mirror
Star Trek: Hell's Mirror sees Mirror Universe Khan meet Mirror Kirk. Will they be allies or enemies in this alternate reality?

Star Trek: Hell's Mirror is a one-and-done story set entirely in Trek's Mirror Universe. It sees Khan team up with Spock and Kirk in an attempt to take on the corrupt Terran Empire and restore humanity, empathy, and intellect to a society that has been overtaken by cruelty and evil. Written by J. M. DeMatteis, drawn by Matthew Dow Smith, colored by Candice Han, and lettered by Neil Uyetake, this one-shot tells a Khan and Kirk story like no other.

Star Trek: Hell's Mirror. Credit: IDW Publishing
Star Trek: Hell's Mirror. Credit: IDW Publishing

This is a comic for dedicated Star Trek fans, as it focuses entirely on the Mirror Universe, where the utopian universe of Trek is replaced by hateful, distrustful, warped versions of the characters, characterized by aggression. The genetically-engineered Khan, however, feels that he is destined to right what is wrong about this world, which he feels is the government of the Terran Empire, that conditions all those it controls to accept this way of life as normalcy. Khan allies himself with Spock and, later, Kirk, both of whom he's warned not to trust, as they are the… you know, asshole versions. If you're fully on board with the Mirror Universe concept as a Trek fan, this is a terrific story for you. It works well as a standalone story, though out of context of the full series, it may be unintentionally humorous watching Kirk punch people for no reason and seeing characters so casually revel in arch-villainy. Khan narrates the issue, and DeMatteis writes him as a philosophical narcissist characterized by the one thing this universe seems to otherwise be missing: hope. It's a good read that ends essentially the only way it could have, but before it goes, Khan's reveal of his ultimate weapon creates the story's most inspired moment.

The art of Star Trek: Hell's Mirror, on the other hand, is lacking. Smith's lines seem incomplete, with the majority of the details looking as if they're filled in with colors. Body proportions are strange throughout, and characters either look traced from photographs in close-up shots or badly posted, sloppily drawn paper dolls in medium and wide shots. Han's colors do the heavy lifting here, but a stronger foundation would've made this a much better comic.

Even with art that isn't up to the title's normal standard, Star Trek: Hell's Mirror is a story that is sure to thrill hardcore Trek fans.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.