Beware of spoilers for the first issue below.
Similar to 2009’s “Countdown” miniseries, the four issue “Countdown to Darkness” is designed to serve as a direct prequel to the May 17 release and is written by the film’s writer/producer Roberto Orci alongside regular IDW “Star Trek” writer Mike Johnson. Although the events depicted in the book are considered to be canonical, there’s no guarantee that any specific plot elements will play out on the big screen. After all, the original “Countdown” included “Star Trek: The Next Generation” characters and, despite being a prequel, was set in the future, following the events that led to Eric Bana’s Nero traveling back to the 23rd century.
“Countdown to Darkness” follows the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise on a mission to the planet Phaedus where, hoping to learn how an alien race acquired advanced technology, Kirk comes face to face with a man familiar to Trekkies: Captain Robert April.
Although April never actually appeared on the original “Star Trek,” the name was planned, in the earliest inception of the series, to be the name of the Enterprise’s captain. Instead, the first pilot went with Christopher Pike (played by Bruce Greenwood in the Abrams film) and, for the second, the familar James T. Kirk. April did later appear in the animated “Star Trek” episode “The Counter-Clock Incident” and it’s accepted in series lore that he was the very first Captain of the Enterprise.
“My name is Robert April,” the character says in his single page appearance, “Former Captain of a ship called Enterprise!”
In the updated timeline, it’s unlikely that April could have captained the Enterprise as we know it but, as with “Star Trek: Enterprise” (which, pre-dating the 2009 film, should still fit into continuity), it’s possible that Starfleet has had more than one experimental vessel with that name.
April’s appearance becomes all the more interesting after a recent story from HitFix that pointed out, during a visit to the Bad Robot offices, that a production sketch of the large weapon apparently used by Benedict Cumberbatch’s John Harrison was labeled “April’s Gatling Gun.”
Assuming that April plays a role in the upcoming sequel, two potential scenarios are that Cumberbatch is actually playing a younger version and/or a clone of the Captain or that the part will be played on-screen by Peter Weller, whose role is currently a mystery. Of course, knowing Abrams’ penchant for keeping secrets, this could be nothing more than a red herring.
Check out April’s comic book image below and share your own theories in the comments!