In Review: Star Trek: Year Five #2

With issues like this I can only hope that this series lives long and prospers.

The covers: Two covers to choose between for this appropriately numbered second issue. The Regular cover by Stephen Thompson and Charlie Kirchoff features the big three, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, trapped behind a Tholian web with one of the monstrous creatures bearing down behind them. I’m a tremendous fan of the classic looking Tholains, so seeing one on this cover is incredibly cool. The three characters don’t look as good as the alien, which is troubling as Thompson and Kirchoff draw and color the interiors of this issue. The Retailer Incentive cover by J.J. Lendl is a propaganda poster that’s to recruit people into Starfleet. This features a man and a woman in Starfleet uniforms in the bottom left with their backs to the reader. They’re holding hands and the woman is pointing to the sky where several Tholian ships are zipping about creating a web. The poster states, “Enter a web of wonders!” and “Experience the Far Reaches of the Tholain Assembly.” Very cool and I would love to see this as a poster, print, or tee shirt. Overall grades: Regular B- and Retailer Incentive A+

The story: Co-writers Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly open this issue with the Tholian ship contacting the Enterprise to state their crimes against the Tholians. Among them is the kidnapping of one of their own, the sole survivor of the destruction that occurred at the colony on the world below them. Kirk tries to reason with them, “We are not responsible for the devastation below. We have taken the surviving child into our custody only to assure their safety while we conduct our investigation. It is our belief that a Tholian splinter group or terrorist organization attacked your colony and –” He’s cut off as the Tholian ship powers up their weapons and blasts the Enterprise with a beam that doesn’t damage the ship, but vaporizes several crew members and scrambles the computer. Kirk orders a retreat, yet they can only go Warp 1. Scotty is left in command of the bridge while Kirk, Spock, and McCoy got to the conference room to discuss their options. This is classic writing with the conversation involving these three. This demonstrates that Lanzing and Kelly have got a strong handle on these iconic characters. There’s also an excellent scene involving those left on the bridge, with all involved in solving a problem. The best moment in the book comes with Kirk’s discussion with a character on Pages 9 – 12: this is a moment that William Shatner would have loved to have had during the original run of the television series. It’s a moment every fan should read. The issue ends with the crew coming up with a solution that’s not agreeable to either side and then something disastrous occurs. I loved this story completely. The premise, the characters, the actions were one hundred percent true. Overall grade: A+

The art: Stephen Thompson does an impressive job with the interiors. The first page is comprised of six similarly sized horizontal panels and makes them very cinematic, beginning with a close-up of the Tholian on the viewscreen, then showing the bridge and her crew, then to sickbay where the juvenile Tholian is being held, next a focus on Kirk and Spock, followed by Kirk speaking to the aliens, and ending with Chekov coming between the reader and the Tholian on the screen. Just outstanding. The likenesses are strong and Thompson’s settings are picture perfect. Pages 2 and 3 contain a panel that stretches across the tops of both with the Enterprise being hit by the Tholian’s weapon. The ships and the energy beam are awesome. The unlucky crew members’ deaths are shocking, but look appropriate for that time in television. I love the point of view in the third through fifth panels on Page 4 making the reader a participant in action. Even with their backs to the reader, there’s a lot of power in those panels. The layout of the third through fifth panels on 5 has Kirk surrounded by his two most trusted friends. And my hat’s off to Thompson for not just copying and pasting an image he has drawn on 6, but by actually doing the work and drawing two different panels of Spock that look the same, but are not. I’m a big fan of nine panel pages and Thompson uses it to great effect on 8. Pages 10 and 11 provide a lot of space for all the dialogue Kirk delivers, but it’s done so perfectly, with the characters and the setting impeccable. There’s no dialogue on 12 and Thompson clearly advances the story with his work. I love the interior of the Tholain ship and the two large panels on 18 and 19. Overall grade: A

The colors: The majority of this book is set on board the Enterprise, so it falls upon colorist Charlie Kirchoff to complete the visuals and he does so well. The first page shows he can create believable and familiar colors for the bridge and the blazing fury that exists aboard the Tholian vessel. The ships on 2 and 3 look perfect as well, with the work on the energy beam especially good. I like the colors that create the horror that is committed in the second panel on Page 2 — very striking. Throughout this book the interiors of the Enterprise are wholly true to those from the show and they allowed me to completely fall into this tale. I also like the shading done on the Tholians. Having read Trek comics in the 80’s I’m used to colors being blanketed onto objects or aliens, but Kirchoff is using a wide variety of crimsons on the aliens to make them realistic. The object that becomes key at the end of the book is intense in oranges and yellows. Overall grade: A 

The letters: Neil Uyetake creates the text of this issue, which is translated Tholian speech, dialogue, whispered text, a sound, an editorial note, and untranslated Tholian speech. There’s a lot of dialogue in this issue and Uyetake is able to place it without stepping on the art. This is quite a feat as several of the panels are very, very small. The translated Tholian speech has a shrill look that mirrors the characters’ speech from the classic episode “The Tholian Web.” The untranslated Tholian dialogue looks terrific, even though I have no idea what’s being said, though I do have a clue. The whispered text is on the opening page with Spock and Kirk speaking to one another quietly while the Tholian waits. It was perfect. Overall grade: A

The final line: This book makes me so happy. If you’ve been waiting for more adventures of the original crew, this is the book to pick up. It captures every nuance, storywise and visually, to please fans new and old. With issues like this I can only hope that this series lives long and prospers. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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