THIS REVIEW OF ‘STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
by Brendan Hodgdon. When a universe is as broad and varied as Star Trek, it’s not surprising that there’s always a stone left to be turned in chronicling it. But it is a bit surprising that, in the fifty years since the end of The Original Series and the forty-five years since the ensuing animated series, no one has ever told the official story of the fifth year of the Enterprise‘s mission. Now that tale is finally being told in the bluntly-titled Star Trek: Year Five, and if this initial offering from creators Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Stephen Thompson, Charlie Kirchoff and Neil Uyetake is any indication, those five years of boldly going ended with quite the bang indeed.
Following a very modern and ominous flash-forward cold open, Lanzing & Kelly’s script throws us into a comfortably familiar classic Trek story. The crew steps away from a science mission to answer a nearby Tholian distress call, and stumbles into what might be a civil war. Lanzing & Kelly (batting lead-off and showrunning for a writer’s room that includes Jody Houser, Jim McCann and Brandon Easton) resist the urge to go too big from the jump, opting to craft a scenario that one could easily imagine in the harsh lighting and contemporary special effects of The Original Series. But besides the cold open, there are other touches that signal this as a more modern serialized narrative, as our intrepid writing duo lay clues for what will likely be a whole series’ worth of character development in ways that the old show wouldn’t have.
Lanzing & Kelly have spoken about this series being a dream gig for them, and the clear passion for Trek is palpable throughout these pages. The dialogue easily captures the voices of the cast, and elements like Kirk’s classics metaphors feel like something you’d expect from Roddenberry’s prime creation (while also drawing an earnest link between Star Trek and those epics of yore). Lanzing & Kelly also use the backdrop of the Enterprise‘s concluding expedition to add further gravitas to the proceedings. They punch some useful and earned nostalgia buttons here as they link the TV show to the movies that followed. The results will certainly be emotional for even casual Trek fans.
Year Five isn’t just evocative of The Original Series on a script level; the art team is doing their part to ensure this book fits right in with its predecessor. Thompson comfortably captures the show’s aesthetics, not to mention the likenesses of its cast. His on-point renditions of the Enterprise and her crew make Year Five a seamless extension of The Original Series and The Animated Series, exactly as it needs to be. By contrast, his layouts are dynamic and give the goings-on (particularly the opening scientific assignment and the crew’s encounter with the Tholians) an immersive agitation that feels refreshingly distinct from the often-static camera of the show.
On top of that, Kirchoff’s colors are big and primary, and help to match the comic to the original show even further. He comfortably uses many of the hues that spring to mind when one pictures moments from TOS in one’s mind, but also knows when to go dark or dramatically technicolored beyond the show’s aesthetic when the scene calls for it. Uyetake is also effective, and structures the flow of speech bubbles thoughtfully in a way that builds momentum, particularly during scenes like the Tholian attack. Their efforts here are the kind that can often be overlooked as “workman-like” but that are particularly essential to tie-in comics like this. They carry their share of the weight and it shows.
As a mission statement for the series to follow, Star Trek: Year Five #1 is an invigorating debut. This can be attributed to both the quality craftsmanship of the creative team, and their clear love for the Starship Enterprise and her fearless crew. In filling in such a major gap in Trek lore, Lanzing, Kelly, Thompson, Kirchoff and Uyetake have held nothing back. The result is undoubtedly worthy of its progenitor’s vaunted place in the history of science-fiction.
IDW Publishing / $3.99
Written by Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly.
Art by Stephen Thompson.
Colors by Charlie Kirchoff.
Letters by Neil Uyetake.
8.5 out of 10
Check out this 5-page preview of ‘Star Trek: Year Five’, courtesy of IDW Publishing!