The first STAR TREK television series in more than a decade, STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, premieres on September 24. To celebrate, we here at ComicsVerse are bringing you all things TREK all month long. Today, we ask that eternal question — who is better, STAR TREK or STAR WARS?


I grew up in a household divided. We were all nerds, no question there — but while my dad was a hardcore STAR WARS fan, my mom was an unabashed Trekkie. Moreover, while normal fans have the VHS tapes, my parents had a coveted selection of books.

My dad had a treasure trove of the STAR WARS Expanded Universe novels, while my mom had piles of STAR TREK books that examined all of the TREK series. Our nerd level was off the charts. As a nerdy child of sci-fi nerds, I was drawn into the debate. There is no neutrality in a household divided. I had to pick a side — I picked STAR WARS.

There can be only one… wait, wrong franchise.

WARS

Iconic.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge STAR WARS fan. In childhood, the dynamic space opera was much more exciting than the journeys of the Starship Enterprise. My brother and I watched the movies over and over again, rewinding the tape as soon as it was finished to start it anew. We knew all the lines, argued over which movie was best, each had our own favorite characters, and overall just loved STAR WARS with pure childish enthusiasm.

STAR TREK, on the other hand, was boring. Too much talking, and it seemed to move much more slowly. Growing up, I got deeper into STAR WARS fandom. My father’s collection of books has been expanded, with my own selections joining his. I am known to engage in passionate debates over the most minute details and don’t get me started on the “Legends” Universe.

CLICK: Want to know more about the Expanded Universe? READ my thoughts on Lucasfilm’s choices here!

As an adult, I can appreciate some of the best parts of STAR WARS, things that maybe went over my head as a child. The grand space opera is a gold mine of tiny details and overarching themes. While we are all wrapped up in the story of the Skywalkers, many other characters deserve a second look. When I got into the Expanded Universe novels, I learned the backstories of many different characters and how they fit into the “galaxy far far away.”

STAR WARS also presents broad overarching themes of good vs. evil, light vs. dark. But there’s a lot more to the story than simple conflicts. Think of Obi-Wan Kenobi, an icon of the “good” side, a cherished mentor, even despite all that he lied to Luke about his parentage. Even the good characters have some hints of bad; likewise, the bad characters can show signs of good. STAR WARS demonstrates that we all have the potential to sway either way, and it is up to us to decide who we want to be.

TREK

The originals.

On the other side, we have the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Compared to the sweeping, galaxy-wide conflicts of STAR WARS, “boldly going” just didn’t seem that impressive. Compounded on that was the issue of differing formats. STAR WARS was a neat and tidy three (and then six) series of movies; even reading the novels gave you well-contained stories. STAR TREK, on the other hand, is serialized. You have to invest a serious amount of time to absorb the whole story. Even the TREK movies relied on the audience’s familiarity with the shows.

Going further, STAR TREK’s effects were underwhelming. All of the aliens on the show are suspiciously humanoid. You are asked to believe that almost all of the aliens Enterprise encountered were somehow essentially just humans with weird facial prostheses. While most of STAR WARS’ aliens are still humanoid, Lucas was able to play around more with costuming and puppetry to give us Wookies and Yoda. Jabba was something entirely different, far more interesting than any alien I had seen on TREK.

As I grew up, though, I began to appreciate STAR TREK more. Yeah, the aliens were basically humans, but the first show premiered in the 60s. They worked with what they had, and since they didn’t have the best effects, they focused more on storylines. Even the serialization works to positive effect.

STAR TREK was able to focus more on individual characters, giving them space and time to become fully realized people. STAR WARS had to give you these characters in three (and then six) two-hour movies. You had to slog through a lot of TREK to get the full story, but you got a lot for your efforts. So what changed my mind?

STAR TREK (2009)

I mean, besides Chris Pine…

I went to see the new STAR TREK movie with the same attitude I had when I saw the first IRON MAN movie: I’m not really into this, but it might be good. Luckily, just like IRON MAN, the trip paid off. The movie was fun and dynamic. While they included enough references to please the old fans — “I’m a doctor, not a physicist!” — the movie was still accessible to new fans. You didn’t have to know every detail of STAR TREK to follow along. The effects helped make the movie enjoyable, but what made the difference is the alternate timeline story.

READ: Fascinated (or dismayed) by the current reboot culture? READ about the usage of reboots in comic books!

While my Trekkie mother was aghast — “that’s not what happened!” — the time-travel line was an excellent way to take this awesome and interesting universe and reboot it. Reboot is usually a negative thing in modern cinema. There is a general feeling that reboots are uncreative and desperate money-grabs; but, in this case, it worked. They took an existing universe and remade it. This wasn’t a rehash of the 1960s STAR TREK. This was its own new thing.

STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS and STAR TREK: BEYOND were not, in my opinion, of the same caliber as the 2009 reboot. INTO DARKNESS relied too heavily on established material — the whole thing comes across as a “wink wink nudge nudge” to the old TREK fans.

Whereas STAR TREK (2009) used the recreated timeline to establish a new experience for our heroes, INTO DARKNESS played more as “it’s the same old thing but reversed.” BEYOND, on the other hand, was brand new but incredibly hard to follow. However, the reboot series did its job. People were more interested in STAR TREK than they had been in decades. It is thanks to the reboot that we are getting DISCOVERY — it is also thanks to the reboot that I gave TREK another chance.

THE FORCE AWAKENS

Naturally, Lucasfilm took a decidedly different tack with THE FORCE AWAKENS. Instead of rebooting the existing material, Lucasfilm chose to continue the original story. This created more of a conundrum for fans. STAR TREK (2009) was, generally, well received. Some hardline Trekkies were upset about the reboot, but for the most part, the movie did well. On the other hand, THE FORCE AWAKENS was a box office powerhouse. The movie smashed records and gave Disney the push to create even more STAR WARS properties beyond the main storyline.

The garbage will do!

To create their new movie, Lucasfilm rejected a significant portion of their past. STAR TREK (2009) is an obvious reboot. It took an established story and twisted it to create a new property. THE FORCE AWAKENS, on the other hand, tried to play it both ways. It is a straight continuation of the STAR WARS Skywalker saga, so it’s not a reboot.

However, Lucasfilm chose to ignore a set of canon established by its Expanded Universe novels to create something new. This angered many fans, myself included, who had loved this set of stories that had been canon. These stories were rejected in favor of what, to many, felt like a rehash of the original trilogy. STAR TREK (2009) was a clean break. THE FORCE AWAKENS is a confusing continuation, rejecting some of its past and rehashing other parts.

A Fan Divided

So what is the verdict? Who is better, in the end? STAR WARS? Or STAR TREK? Despite the similarities in their names, genres, and subject material, comparing the two properties is a little like comparing apples and oranges. Sure, they’re both fruit, but they are completely different kinds of fruit.

Both WARS and TREK are sweeping looks at a sci-fi universe unlike our own. They present stories of aliens, spaceships, galactic conflicts, and more. But they are entirely different.

MORE: Doctor Who is another favorite sci-fi franchise that divides fans. READ more about why we think all the doctors are great!

STAR WARS is pure space opera fun. It plays on broader themes and creates an atmosphere of excitement and action. Characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo are icons. STAR WARS is primarily film material. While shows like THE CLONE WARS are considered part of the canon, for the most part, the story is told through these film installments. This makes the material easier to absorb, but less detailed. STAR WARS is colorful, dynamic, and unique, showcasing brilliantly designed new worlds and species.

STAR TREK is space politics and ethics. The Enterprise is on a mission of exploration, not action (although that seems to happen to them an awful lot). STAR TREK relies less on effects and more on storytelling. Being in a serialized format allowed STAR TREK more space to focus on individual storylines rather than a broad overarching conflict. Characters were less icons and more fully realized people. While STAR TREK does have a large number of movies, the material is primarily presented in TV series. This gives it an entirely different feel.

I have been, and always shall be, a fan.

Both properties are a ton of fun, and if you move past fandom wars, you’ll find a wealth of sci-fi goodness waiting for you. I fully plan on being there opening night for THE LAST JEDI, and I will be streaming DISCOVERY the second it’s available.

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