As more information slowly trickles out about the new Star Trek T.V. series, IDW Publishing continues to keep the Trek audience entertained with titles such as Star Trek Year Five. Acting as an homage to the original series and a companion to the number of live action versions readily available, Star Trek Year Five is pure indulgence for any Star Trek fan.
After rescuing the only survivor of a massacre on an unexplored planet, Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise face a Tholian threat which, if handled incorrectly, could start an interstellar war.
With the end of their mission so close, should Captain Kirk play it safe or stand his ground? How much is one life worth?
These are the questions that Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly ask in the second issue of Star Trek Year Five and they lead to some deep, sociological conversations. The original Star Trek series was always about ethical dilemmas and shining a light on society; Lanzing and Kelly have adopted this approach and there are a number of contemplative moments.
The script is speech heavy for the majority of the comic but it suits the type of story being told. This is Classic Star Trek and it is presented as such. It is a comforting contrast to the super-fast, action heavy versions audiences are faced with at the cinema or on T.V. That doesn’t mean Year Five isn’t exciting, it just has a different approach, inspired by Gene Roddenberry’s initial concept.
Lanzing and Kelly have captured the characters perfectly, so much so that you can hear the actors voice as you are reading. Their accents and inflections are woven into their speech so the reader can tell who is talking even when they are off panel.
The wonderful character representation is also reflected in Stephen Thompson’s art work. He uses very precise, thin pencil lines to shape the figures and scenery, allowing for an impressive amount of detail. The visual style is clearly inspired by the original series and the images make you feel as though you are back in the 60’s watching the show on television.
Thompson uses the scenery to create frames within the panels thereby giving the scenes some depth. It also allows Thompson to lead the reader through the panels and across the page. The layouts are fairly standard, and there is a lot of exposition to fit in, so Thompson uses his framing techniques with shifting camera angles to drive the story forward. The pacing of the comic comes from the changing panel shapes with the occasional page bleed punctuating moments of significance.
Both Charlie Kirchoff, on colors, and Neil Uyetake, on letters, follow the aesthetic set by Thompson. Kirchoff uses muted colors to give the pages that 1960’s atmosphere but emphasises the uniforms worn by the Enterprise crew. This is almost as important for the characters as their speech.
Uyetake spaces the speech balloons out, giving each sentence or paragraph space to breath. The information is laid out in a naturalistic, conversational way but still conjures up memories of watching the staged Original Series episodes.
Star Trek Year Five is everything you could want from a Star Trek comic. It allows itself some indulgence in nostalgia, and references the Original series on a number of occasions, but not enough to make it just for fans. The central story is a strong, important story which can be read on a number of levels. On the surface it is a straight forward Sci-Fi romp with impending destruction around every corner but underneath there is a greater philosophy.
It is only two issues in but Star Trek Year Five is already shaping up to be a classic Star Trek comic, destined to be talked about for years to come.