STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE #12, available from IDW on July 1st, finds Kirk willing to sacrifice himself, and the Enterprise, in a desperate bid to save the life of his crew from Gary Seven’s plans. Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly’s story does what Star Trek does best, show Captain Kirk finding a way to snatch Life from the jaws of Death. It’s a thrilling, albeit flawed, issue to cap off the current arc.
Stephen Thompson’s cover hits hard with its cliffhanger composition. You see the shadow of Kirk’s head, a pistol aimed squarely at the back, and a splash of blood on the wall. Thompson put all those elements together to evoke huge amounts of curiosity for what’s to come inside. This a prime example of a cover doing its job to maximum effect.
Lanzing and Kelly’s story picks up immediately after the end of issue #11 (read our review of #11 here) with Kirk and Seven locked in hand-to-hand combat for control of Enterprise. Meanwhile, Spock and the crew are scrambling to organize themselves on the planet surface below when they come under attack.
The story is simple and straightforward, almost to a fault. Lanzing and Kelly do a great job of setting up the conflicts among the different parties. It’s always fun to see Kirk get into pulpy fisticuffs, and watching Spock and Scotty work out a technical miracle to save the day plucks all the right nostalgia heartstrings.
It’s a classic Star Trek episode come to life, but it slightly suffers due to the lack of resolution and its utter predictability. Kirk and crew save the day (no surprise), but you learn nothing of Gary Seven’s plan or why destroying the Enterprise was so critical, so the ending is less satisfying than it could be.
When you look at the credits, you see there were six artists and colorists in total. It’s possible the COVID-19 lockdown forced a shift in the art team midway through production, so the rest of the review will focus on the collective result rather than the individual contributions from Kieran McKeowan, Silvia Calafano, and Stephen Thompson.
The art works best during the action scenes throughout the issue. In particular, the perspective angles used in panels where you’re looking down Kirk’s arm as he reaches for a weapon, or you see somebody’s face coming at you after taking a punch to the jaw, are really effective. The artists display a solid command of anatomy and perspective to make the action feel like it’s coming at you.
What keeps the art from rising above average, is the lack of accuracy on the faces. A high point of the previous issue is the accurate rendering of the entire crew, so imminently recognizable in today’s culture. Here, the faces are not as realistic, and in a few panels, a bit rough looking. Again, this may be due to the shift in the art team, but the art seems rushed.
Thomas Deer, John-Paul Bove, and Charlie Kirchoff worked together to capture a powerfully dramatic level of shading on the Enterprise’s bridge as Kirk says his last words. Spock and the crew’s phaser battle on the lifeless planet are blanketed with alien hues of Circe V. The red shirts (the characters always destined for death on any Star Trek episode) are just the right shade of red, but with enough gradient to give each (disposable) character’s uniform a healthy dose of texture. Excellent work by the colorist team.
Neil Uyetake’s lettering does a great job keeping the reader’s eye moving along in a relatively fast-paced story. There’s not a lot of exposition, so there are very few caption boxes. It’s almost all dialog and quite a bit on some of the panels. Spock and Kirk both give fairly extensive speeches to their respective audiences, and Uyetake keeps the word bubbles tight and flowing with the action to keep the pace level up.
STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE #12, available from IDW on July 1st, is a strong finish to the Gary Seven invasion story. The admittedly predictable ending wraps up the plot neatly and sets up the conflict to come. The passable art is buoyed by great coloring and an expert lettering job.