Written by Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly
Illustrated by Stephen Thompson
Cover by Greg Hildebrandt
Published by IDW Publishing
As a TV kid in the 1960s, I never watched Star Trek (TOS) first run until it switched to Friday nights for its final, lesser season.
I did read the Gold Key comic books from time to time, though, but, as I recall it, my obsession with Star Trek was really fanned by David Gerrold’s behind the scenes book, The World of Star Trek, which came out in 1973.
At that time, the reruns were in full bloom and the conventions were beginning.
In 1976, I stood next to DeForest Kelley in Louisville, KY as he was being interviewed on TV. I was wearing my homemade (Thanks, Mom!) Doctor McCoy shirt at the time.
Around that time, of course, there were plans for a small screen reboot that were abandoned for a feature version after the 1977 mega-success of Star Wars.
In the four decades since, there have been hundreds of novels, hundreds more non-fiction books, multiple feature films, a still-growing number of official, related, TV series and, concurrently with all that, there were almost always comic books.
Since it seems like just about every comic book company has published its own version of Star Trek comic books, the continuity between them is pretty much non-existent, but the creative teams do usually attempt to stay true to the original premises.
The test of what makes a truly good Star Trek comic book, though, is if it stays true to the characterizations. By this point, fans have a very definite internal concept of what Spock would or wouldn’t say, how Scotty would react to any situation, how Kirk would make a decision, etc. And the thing is, they’re usually right! These characters have been analyzed to the proverbial nth degree and the slightest digression in characterization in a novel or comic book can be a grating deal breaker.
I’m happy to say that IDW’s Star Trek: Year Five re-introduces the reader to old friends, this time to see the end of the legendary five-year mission. Everyone is in character although, in the Star Trek tradition, most have little to do this time around.
We meet Captain Kirk once again facing a crisis situation but then we flash back to see how he got to that point. There are in-jokes and references to actual TV episodes as we build toward an ending that seems to come all too soon, signaling that this, like so many comics nowadays, will likely read better in its eventual collected form.
The art is some of the best I’ve seen in a Star Trek comic book, and I swear I’m not just saying that because the artist and I phonetically share the same name. (In fact, DC sent me his contributor copies once about a decade back. I contacted him and he said to just keep them as it would cost too much for me to send them on to him in Ireland.)
Star Trek has long since proven its longevity, and the comic books have gone a long way toward cementing the immortality of our Starfleet friends. The start of this new series is a welcome addition to that tradition.