While J.J. Abrams' upcoming sci-fi sequel Star Trek Into Darkness has been shrouded in a cloak of almost complete secrecy from the moment it was first announced, the one question that's been on everyone's lips is the identity of Benedict Cumberbatch's villain. Originally it was rumoured that Abrams' was to follow the map laid out by Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by introduction the genetically-enhanced 20th century warlord Khan Noonien Singh, before images started to surface showing Benedict Cumberbatch in a Starfleet uniform.
This immediately lent support to the theory that his character would be that of helmsman Gary Mitchell, the Starfleet officer who gains god-like powers in the Star Trek: TOS pilot 'Where No Man Has Gone Before', but Paramount Pictures then threw a spanner in the works when an official image referred to him as 'John Harrison'. Given that a character called Harrison appeared in the episode 'Space Seed', Khan seemed like a possibility once more (especially as the Japanese trailer included a shot reminiscent of Spock's "I have been and always shall be... your friend" death scene), but now it looks as though John Harrison's true identity may have been revealed via IDW Publishing's official movie prequel comic book series Star Trek Countdown to Darkness. If you don't want to run the risk of spoilers, you should probably stop reading now...
Having already given us a look at the Klingons thanks to the cover for Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #4, the first issue of the limited series is released tomorrow, and the final panel introduces the character of Robert April, former captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Now, unless you're a hardcore Trekker, you might not have heard of Captain Robert April, but his name was included on Gene Roddenberry's initial Star Trek proposal back in 1964 before being replaced by that of Christopher Pike for the first pilot episode 'The Cage'. However, April did surface as Commodore Robert April in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode 'The Counter-Clock Incident', where the crew of the Enterprise began to age backwards, with Roddenberry subsequently stating that the character was officially part of Trek canon.
Considering that IDW's previous Star Trek movie prequel Star Trek Countdown delivered plenty of backstory to Eric Bana's Nero, it's probably safe to assume that Countdown to Darkness will provide some indication as to who Kirk and company will be up against when Into Darkness arrives in May (especially with Cumberbatch being on one of the covers and all, even if it is the movie's poster). The introduction of Robert April is certainly interesting considering the recent theory proposed by Drew McWeeny over at HitFix, who put together a very convincing argument as to why he thought 'John Harrison' could be a smokescreen for April. I suggest you give it at a read.
Now, as drawn in the comic, Robert April bears little resemblance to Benedict Cumberbatch, but in fairness Kirk looks nothing like Chris Pine either, and while April appears much older, there's still three issues for that whole age-reversal process to kick in. Of course, there is the possibility that April's appearance is Countdown to Darkness is just another clever ruse to throw us off the scent, or simply a little nod to the Trek faithful, but personally I think we might just have had the answer to the question of who 'John Harrison' really is.