Mindy Newell: Star Trek Into Darkness

Mindy Newell

These days Mindy Newell knows that if she could do it all over again she’d have gone to college for screenwriting and film editing. Instead she became a nurse to please her parents and pleasing your parents was what it was all about for nice Jewish girls who graduated from high school in 1971. But the creative larva was in her soul, and when the cocoon broke and the butterfly emerged, it flew to DC’s New Talent Showcase program. Under the auspices of legendary editors Karen Berger, Len Wein, Julius Schwartz, Paul Levitz, and ComicMix’s own Robert Greenberger, Mindy learned the craft and art of writing comics, including Tales Of The Legion, V, Legionnaires 3, Amethyst, Lois Lane: When It Rains God Is Crying, and numerous other comics, including a Superman story based on a dream Mindy had as a child. She also worked on Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg! and other independent comics. All this time Mindy continued to work as a nurse while being a single mom to her daughter Alixandra, until the late and dear Mark Gruenwald hired her as an assistant editor at Marvel, while writing stories of the Black Widow and Daredevil. She edited NFL Pro Action, a licensed kid’s magazine about football with the NFL until Marvel imploded in 1996. Returning to full-time nursing, she she also co-wrote a story for 2000 A.D. with her then-husband, British artist John Higgins. A few years ago Mike Gold called and asked her to join the team of columnists here at ComicMix, where her topics freely range from comics to pop culture to politics; she even wrote a piece about the great American thoroughbred Secretariat, which caused editor Mike to tell her that she had won the prize for the most off-topic column ever written ComicMix.

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65 Responses

  1. Jacques says:

    Mindy, have you ignored the weeks of press on this? It’s not Gary Mitchell. Especially since GM was already featured (in 2011) in the first issue of the movie universe comics (comics supervised by writer/producer Bob Orci). And, even still Mitchell doesn’t quite fit the synopses (there’ve been two) or the teasers. Or am I just not picking up on intended sarcasm?

  2. facebook_vinnie.bartilucci says:

    The thing that’s so fascinating is that everyone is SO convinced that it IS a character from the original series. If it turns out to be a new character, there will actually be people so disappointed they won’t see it.

    Which is silly, cause it’s Benedict Cumberbatch. He could be playing Finnegan and he’d be spectacular.

    This is happening a lot more of late – fans get whipped up into a fury online about some plot point or another of an upcoming film or book or comic, then getting annoyed when the real thing doesn’t match up to the prevailing online Clever Theory. Which is just mad, really.

    I mean, the whole POINT of rebooting the series is to take it in NEW directions, where the old series didn’t. So to lock the new series into the trap of only doing new versions of old stories fails twice. First, it locks the new series into the track of the old one, with everyone expecting revamped stories. Second, it only serves to further piss off the fans of the original who thought the original Space Seed and Wrath of Khan were PERFECTLY GOOD, thank you very much, and don’t NEED with-fiddling.

    Yes, hat-tips to the original series are fine, but I think they’ve already set up quite a few new ideas that need looking at. Like the idea that Vulcans are now a fugitive race with no homeland. How willing will other races be to cede a planet in their systems to a race that may well be more advanced than they? Or how about the awesome fact that Orions are in Star Fleet? If I recall my TOS trivia correctly, don’t Orion females have innate abilities similar to that of Deltans, in the…interpersonal relations department? Also, from a more broad point, does that mean Orions aren’t slavers in this new universe?

    I’ve heard about the Klingons appearing the movie. Did the Romulan war happen here? What instead of being warlike, the Romulans are closer to the Vulcans in they choose to take a more cerebral approach to conquest?

    There’s SO MUCH they could be doing, but everyone wants the old stories back in the new continuity. Cause we see how well that works in comics.

    You want to know who I want to see in the new series? Gary Seven. That’s IT.

    • Mindy Newell says:

      Oh, yeah, Vinnie, you’re right about some of the fans. However, I am not one of them, and whether it’s Gary Mitchell a.k.a. John Harrison, Khan, a new character, or even Q, I don’t care. I can’t wait until May!

    • Mindy Newell says:

      I think J.J. is using the old series as a basis, but is having fun twisting the stories–which he is able to do since he set up the “alternate timeline”/”alternate universe” in the first movie, allowing for similarities, but not exact copies.

      So they are new stories with “winks” to the old fans.

  3. Jacques says:

    Sorry, a bit grumpy there. I’m hoping John Harrison has no ties to Khan — or to Mitchell. The Khan speculation has been reignited with a shot from the teaser which shows two men in jumpsuits (one with a ponytail? Tough to tell) standing behind a room/warehouse/cave full of cryotubes/coffins/refrigerators.

    Anything’s possible — Mitchell could have been aboard as part of a section 31ish plot to get infected by the barrier, and has returned to either get revenge on the fleet (and his buddy who was a year behind him at the academy — comics). But, seems messy…

  4. facebook_douglass.abramson says:


    Ben Finney, from the episode Court Marshall was the person whose career was derailed by Kirk’s report, not Mitchell.

    • Mindy Newell says:

      Douglas, I could swear that there’s a line in WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE in which we learn that Gary fucked up somewhere.

      But I could be wrong…I didn’t have a chance to rewatch the episode before I posted…recapped the episode from memory.

  5. Jacques says:

    “But at some point in their careers, Kirk reported Mitchell for failing in his duty, and Mitchell’s chance at promotion was downgraded”

    Where’s that from? One of the novels?

    In this timeline, Kirk has no career until he boards the Enterprise.

    • Mindy Newell says:

      That is a good point, Jacques, and one that I thought of, but I’m under the impression that INTO DARKNESS doesn’t take place immediately after the first (reboot) movie. It could be 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, maybe more.

      • Jack J. Sanders says:

        I’m thinking that somewhere (the stardate in the preview, my ferret’s horoscope?) they’ve said it’ll be about a year and a bit.

        You’re right about the comic — it doesn’t mean anything. Personally I find Mitchell-as-God a bit thin, potential-wise (God-like powers are fucking boring). Plus the name Gary. I always loved him though — Gary Lockwood’s barely on screen, really, and yet I always wished I could have watched a Star Trek starring him. He was the star of the series Roddenberry ran before Trek. And he has a bunch of crazy stories about Steve McQueen…

  6. John Ostrander says:

    Two things I REALLY don’t want to see in the next film — 1) Spock dies; 2) Enterprise destroyed. Been there, seen those, don’t need to see it again.

  7. storymark says:

    Im betting that Harrison is one of Khan’s crew, but not the man himself.

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  9. The Great and Powrful Pam says:

    The reason everyone believes the new baddie is going to be a character from TOS is because it has been said the character will be a TOS villain. Way back last summer, one of the script writers told an interviewer that the villain was going to be someone Kirk had encountered in the original timeline. Among the names he listed were Kahn, Gary Mitchell, Trelane, Harry Mudd, and the Horta. He specified it would be one of the characters he just named, and thus the Kahn vs. Mitchell debate came about. (source: trekmovie.com)

    I am partial to the Gary Mitchell debate be aide he was on the prequel comic, giving him an incentive to take revenge without going in to a lot of backstory, whereas Kahn would require half the movie to explain.

    • Mindy Newell says:

      Harry Mudd would be HILARIOUS, Pam, but could he carry a whole movie? Not as he was originally written, I think…

      As for Trelane…eh. I know many people love that episode, and I know that there’s a theory that Trelane was a Q (tying into ST:TNG)…I guess in theory it’s definitely possible….

      The Horta? I don’t think so! :-)

      • CSO says:

        No Kill I!

        • Mindy Newell says:

          As I remember the resulting conversation between Kirk and Spock:

          “What does that mean? I won’t kill you?”
          “Or it could mean please don’t kill me.”

          Of course I’m paraphrasing here.

          LOL, CSO!

  10. Jinx the Cat says:

    The villain is neither Khan nor Gary Mitchell. It is Captain Garth (aka Lord Garth of Izar) from TOS episode “Whom Gods Destroy”.

    • Mindy Newell says:

      Jinx, I heard that theory, too. But Garth never impressed me–in fact, I thought the whole episode sucked–so I discounted that one. Still….

  11. Mindy Newell says:

    Oh, and as far as the “it can’t be Gary Mitchell because he was in the comic” argument, I don’t see why not. First of all, the comic has a very small audience compared to the movies, and secondly…

    Who cares?

  12. Mindy Newell says:

    To everybody:

    Part of the fun of being a geeky Trekker is having these discussions!

  13. Mindy Newell says:

    And one of the reasons that I’m hoping it’s Gary Mitchell is because he’s such a tragic figure, as in classic Greek tragedy.

  14. Jack J. Sanders says:

    Why can’t he be a Starfleet officer, as described? Why’s the guy gotta be full of Trojans?

  15. Bill Mulligan says:

    Garth fits in a bit more with the terrorist angle–a brilliant tactician with the regenerative powers of Wolverine and a master of disguise,his mind twisted into a genocidal megalomaniac with a grudge.

    The shots I’ve seen seem more like a Captain America style superhuman than a God. then again, who’s to say that this time the barrier didn’t give him different levels of power?

  16. Glenn Hauman says:

    Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Gary? It\’ll never happen, just because everyone would call it that.

    • Sean D. Martin says:

      There were two episodes from the original series that ended with Kirk and Co. wondering about what would follow. One was, of course, Space Seed with Khan (“It would be interesting, Captain, to return to that world in 100 years and learn what crop had sprung from the seed you planted today.”) and we’ve seen what became of that seed.

      The other? “Well, in a few years, the Iotians may demand a piece of OUR action.”

      I’m tellin’ ya, they should bring back Oxmyx! :)

  17. Greg Tinkler says:

    It’s a genetically enhanced (courtesy Peter Weller’s John Frederick Paxton) Kirk from the Mirror, Mirror universe. Think about it, it fits the hints they released and the fact that Kirk/BennyBatch are visually and verbally set as mirror images of each other in EVERY SINGLE PHOTO and press release.

    Besides, didn’t they dump Gary Mitchell’s phasered body into space in the comic?

  18. Sean D. Martin says:

    And this is just a minor point, but Khan Noonian Singh’s heritage is Punjabi, not British Isles. Of course, J.J. Abrams doesn’t have to stick with that

    Actually, while history has changed from the moment Nero came thru the warp (brilliant move by Abrams et al, IMHO), events in Trek lore that pre-date that would still be as shown in the original series. *

    So while Abrams doesn’t have to stick with what Khan was, he kinda should.

    * Yes, Khan is out there in the Botany Bay waiting to be found. And Nomad is out there. And the Doomsday machine is munching its way toward the Federation.

    I’m just looking forward to the return of Bela Oxmyx….

  19. Lmnvij Hahn says:

    Mindy. You are an idiot. This article should have been written a month and a half ago. Your way late. It’s Jon Harrison

  20. Waqar Abbasi says:

    Hi Mindy,
    I haven’t read everything in the discussion so pardon me if its repetitive. I just wanted to point out that if the film is a Khan story, then it will have to be “Space Seed” and not “Wrath of Khan”. so the point about Khan’s motivation being avenging the death of his beloved and being marooned on Seti Alpha 5 wouldn’t apply.
    However I am heavily inclined to believe that Cumberbatch is playing either Khan or a new character because he is clearly involved in genetic enhancement. In the 9 minute imax screening, he is seen telling a couple that he can save their dying daughter. this reminds me of DS9’s Dr Bashir. In his childhood he underwent illegal genetic enhancement to fight off a debilitating illness.
    It is possible that in an altered timeline Kirk never found the Botany Bay and instead Klingons did (hence Cumberbatch reeking havoc on a Klingon ship) he then went on to infiltrate Starfleet and planned whatever act of terror is referred to in the (useless) synopsis.
    Another possibility I have contemplated is that the disclosure that Alice Eve is playing Carol Marcus and Spock and Kirk Touching each other’s hand in a “I have been and always shall be…” manner can simply be planted by the producers who are no strangers to disinformation.
    One thing is for certain, the story involves Khan style genetic enhancement. Not Trelane because a Q never runs around and gets into fist fights so much nor gets so involved. I have a feeling we will see Mudd somewhere for comic effect like Scotty’s tribble on Delta Vega last time. which reminds me of poor Bubo the owl who didn’t get to go on the adventure with Perseus this time around.

  21. Mindy Newell says:

    Hi, Wagar,

    Yes, I loved the story arc and character history that was created for Dr. Bashir on DS9 (the genetic manipulation thing.)

    I was only kidding about Q, because he is a ST:TNG character, and Abrams is referencing the original series.

    I like your idea of Kirk never having found the Botany Bay in this new universe, btw.

  22. Mindy Newell says:

    Just for the hell of it, here’s the trailer to WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE, which sure links ST: INTO DARKNESS to Gary Mitchell, imho.


  23. Mindy Newell says:

    And here’s another video for all of us geeks where we discover that there was a character named John Harrison on the TOS episode SPACE SEED, lending support to those who think the bad guy is Khan.


  24. Barry says:

    I want it to be some really pissed off green chick.

  25. He's dead Jim. says:

    A tongue-in-cheek look at Star Trek can be found at

    The upcoming movie is briefly discussed towards the end.

  26. JuJu says:

    At the end of TOS episode ‘Space Seed’, Khan asked Kirk if he was familiar with Milton, making a reference to author John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ in which Satan is quoted as saying “Tis better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven”.

    Book 1 of ‘Paradise Lost’ states “His Angels, now fallen into Hell-described here not in the Centre (for heaven … not made, certainly not yet accursed), but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest called Chaos.”

    Darkness. Chaos. Carol Marcus being played by Alice Eve. JOHN Milton/JOHN Harrison. The “two hands touching glass” scene similar to “Wrath of Khan”.

    The villain surely must be Khan or a new twist on Khan.

  27. dubya tee eff says:

    I’m betting that it’s Robert April, first commander of the Enterprise. He is featured in the latest Star Trek comic as well as the events of the animated Star Trek episode “The Counter-Clock Incident” in which Robert April and his wife were tinkering with methods of controlling the human aging process. Benedict Cumberbatch is young Robert April while Peter Weller is the older version. Robert April could be seeking revenge for any number of reasons including Starfleet interfering with his research, blaming Starfleet for his wife’s death due to aging, etc.

  28. Qarl Montag says:

    In the original ST timeline, Commodore Robert April oversaw the construction of Enterprise and even selected the name before becoming the first commander. He was also friends with Captain Garth as well as Jim Kirk’s brother George Samuel Kirk (referred to as Sam by Jim Kirk).

    In JJ Abrams ST timeline, Chris Pike is the first commander of Enterprise followed by Jim Kirk. Nemo’s disruption of the original timeline during his attack upon USS Kelvin has obviously done something to affect Robert April’s place within it.

    The question remains: who has a case of the ass towards Starfleet? Robert April? Gary Mitchell? Captain Garth? Khan? Someone else?

  29. Mindy Newell says:

    @ dubya and Qari: Excellent work!

  30. Nomad says:

    “But at some point in their careers, Kirk reported Mitchell for failing in his duty, and Mitchell’s chance at promotion was downgraded. Still, Kirk believed in his friend’s potential, and brought him onto the Enterprise as helmsman.”

    I believe this was not Gary Mitchell but instead was Lt. Commander Ben Finney from the episode “Court Martial”. Finney has harbored a grudge against Kirk since they were both ensigns when Kirk had reported a careless mistake made by Finney which subsequently kept him from being promoted. In the episode, Finney had faked his own death by manipulating the main computer’s visual log recording to make it look like Kirk was trying to cover up a mistake which had killed Finney while the ship was caught in a severe ion storm.

    I suspect that Cumberbatch is playing Gary Mitchell but the story will be somewhat different than “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. The Star Trek Memory Alpha website offers the following about Gary Mitchell: “The Gary Mitchell from the alternate reality created by Nero appears in the first two issues of the IDW Star Trek series; having been assigned to the Enterprise on Kirk’s request, Mitchell again succumbs to the barrier’s influence – a Vulcan mind meld performed by Spock confirms that there is no intelligence in Mitchell after the barrier takes over – but during the confrontation on Delta Vega, while Mitchell is tormenting Kirk, he is defeated when Spock sneaks up on the occupied Mitchell and delivers a Vulcan nerve pinch, incapacitating Mitchell long enough for his real self to take over and ask Kirk to kill him. Mitchell is then “killed” by a phaser blast, his body put into a torpedo tube and blasted into space like Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The Enterprise leaves Delta Vega’s orbit as Mitchell’s torpedo tube is left floating in space at the conclusion of this issue.”

    If Cumberbatch is indeed playing Mitchell, I question if Alice Eve is really playing Dr. Carol Marcus as claimed or if she’s actually playing Dr. Elizabeth Dehner. Both characters tie in with “Where No Man Has Gone Before” as Marcus was surely the “blonde lab technician” Mitchell mentioned and Dehner was of course affected by the energy barrier in the same manner as Mitchell. While Alice Eve physically resembles Elizabeth Dehner as portrayed by Sally Kellerman, she also resembles a younger version of the older Carol Marcus as portrayed by the late Bibi Besch in “The Wrath of Khan”.

    • Mindy Newell says:

      @ Nomad: Yes, you’re right about Ben Finney (as was pointed out somewhere above), so I may have gotten my ST facts wrong *GASP!* :-) . However, there is something about Gary Lockwood’s performance as Gary Mitchell that indicates resentment and/or boredom in his duties as helmsman–an underlying current of jealousy towards Kirk. Early in the episode Kirk gives an order to his helmsman, and the way Mitchell adjusts the course–again, this is in the way Lockwood played it–that signaled to me that this was a guy who thought his duties were robotic and boring–the character early on comes across as brooding and resentful, very full of himself, etc. Note the way Dehner (Kellerman) cuts him down.

      • Nomad says:

        Yeah, that’s the way I perceived Gary Mitchell too. Apparently a good part of his personality was Gary Lockwood’s real personality (his friends said playing the role of a god perfectly suited him). The silver contact lenses worn by Gary only had a small pinhole for him to see through and he had to tilt his head back in order to look at other actors. This worked out well because the head tilt helped to intensify Mitchell’s condescending higher-than-thou god-like attitude.

  31. just sayin says:

    I dunno. After having lived through the reality of the 9/11 attacks, Pam Am 103 being blown out of the sky, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Khobar Towers bombing, theater shootings, school shootings, etc., why should I even want to watch a make-believe Star Trek movie about a terrorist unleashing hell on earth and killing people?

  32. JuJu says:

    The preview shows a short scene of cryogenic tubes containing bodies. If you magnify the following still from the scene, in the background you see two people walking away. The one on the left appears to look just like Khan from the episode ‘Space Seed’ with his long tunic and dark hair with a small pony tail.


    • Mindy Newell says:

      @ JuJu: Hmm, really good point, JuJu!! I interpreted that scene as the coffins/torpedo casings of the Starfleet personnel who had been killed aboard the Enterprise. And it does look like someone with a ponytail walking away…when I first saw it, I thought it was Kirk.

  33. JuJu says:

    At first I thought they were coffins too but then I noticed they had windows showing faces and the windows appeared to have a layer of frost on the inside. While a 23rd century coffin may have a window for viewing the deceased and may even be chilled to preserve the body, I’m more inclined to believe these are cryogenic tubes containing Khan’s followers. Even if Cumberbatch isn’t playing Khan, the subject scene may be at the end of the movie to hint at the plot for the 3rd installment.


  34. JuJu says:

    Hopefully this new picture link of the cryogenic tubes and Khan in the background will remain intact & active.


    • Nomad says:

      Those definitely have to be cryo tubes and I would guess the elongated flat piece atop each one would be a type of heat sink designed for dissapating any heat from the tube. As Khan and Kirk (?) appear to be walking into sunlight while exiting a large opening facing a block wall, this is likely a building serving as storage facility. On the other hand, the yellow/black striping at the right in the background hints that it could instead be a cargo hold of a spacecraft… perhaps the Botany Bay?

  35. Nomad says:

    I copied the photo and then used Picasa to enlarge and enhance it. It’s Khan on the left and absolutely positively Cumberbatch (NOT Kirk) wearing dress whites with shoulderboards on the right.

    • Mindy Newell says:


      But you know what? I will be disappointed if you’re right. I still think Gary Mitchell is a terrific choice for a villain.

      Just had a thought–you think there’s any chance that there’s a duality here? Meaning Khan AND Mitchell?

      • Nomad says:

        Khan AND Mitchell would be awesome. I’m still curious about what roll Peter Weller is playing.

        Also… after viewing the trailer several times, the starship shown crashing into the water with everyone watching doesn’t look like JJ’s version of the Enterprise. Instead, the more rectangular engine nacelles and skinnier engine pylons make the ship look more like the Enterprise-A as seen in the first three Star Trek movies. Probably just an illusion but still…….

    • Mindy Newell says:

      Nomad, what’s Picasa? Never heard of it.

      • Nomad says:

        It’s a free photo editing program downloadable from Google.

        • mike weber says:

          Well, actually, it’s an image-viewing, -cataloging, and, if you want, i think, -sharing program primarily, not “editing” like PaintShop Pro, Photoshop or The GIMP.

          (Review at Gizmo’s Freeware)

          • mike weber says:

            Oopsie – it looks as if they’ve expanded it since i last messed with it (and was supremely underwhelmed, BTW).

            Not sure how much editing it’s capable of, now, though i’d bet that the other programs i mentioned can do a lot more.

          • Nomad says:

            I’ve used the latest version of Picasa to clean up and clarify countless old photos and it has served me just fine. As Picasa is free, it’s logical to expect a paid program such as PhotoShop to offer more capabilities.

          • mike weber says:

            The GiMP is free, and it will do just about anything Photoshop will.

            Paint.net is free, and quite powerful.

            There are a number of free programs that will do a lot more than Picasa: here is a listing with reviews of several of the best.

  36. Nomad says:

    Back to the subject of Cumberbatch’s role… the 30-second preview aired during the Super Bowl didn’t seem to offer any new hints of who he’s playing although he seems more & more like Gary Mitchell. The new scenes of the damaged Enterprise descending thru the atmosphere were visually cool but it’s a plot line that’s already been overdone ad nauseum in the previous Star Trek movies… the Enterprise is damaged beyond repair by the bad guys, so a better one is built to replace it… or the Enterprise is destroyed by the bad guys, so a better one is built to replace it… or Kirk has to blow up the Enterprise to keep the bad guys from getting it, so a better one is built to replace it… or the Enterprise is getting too many wrinkles and has to be retired, so a better one is built to replace it… or Kirk steals the Enterprise and wrecks it, so a better one is built to replace it…