IDW launched “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” last month (December 2015) and this past week saw the release of issue 2. Written by Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrott, “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” is set within the altered timeline and takes us back to the early days of Kirk, Uhura, and company, along with introducing us to new faces. It is the year 2258 and Kirk has yet to cheat on the Kobayashi Maru, along with developing an eye for Uhura’s Orion roomate, Gaila. It’s only fitting that within this 50th Anniversary year of Star Trek that us Trekkers have as much Trek in our lives as possible; if that means an additional comic, then make it so!
I’ve spoken about my enjoyment of IDW and Mike Johnson’s work on Star Trek for a while. Most recently in Star Trek ongoing, we talked about “Live Evil”, a story featuring the re-introduction of Khan (now Singh) in a more Montalban than Cumberbatch way. Johnson, along with editor Sarah Gaydos have been the ones tasked with ensuring a consistent and authentic story line for the ongoing series as it takes place within the universe J.J. Abrams started with the 2009 film and followed with 2013’s Into Darkness. Johnson and Gaydos, two of the very best at IDW, have maintained an excellent series that’s worthy of the Star Trek mantle and a monthly treat for us fans. Now with “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” in the publication schedule, we get two altered timeline comic titles featuring the likenesses of Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana.
Issue 2 of “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” continues in the same animated tone it started with while also maintaining a more sincere focus on characters we’ve yet to (or may never) meet on screen. No pun intended, there’s a charm to artist Derek Charm’s style and approach, which is much different than the more serious tone of Tony Shasteen’s work on the ongoing series. Having a separate artist on “Starfleet Academy” works because characters like Chekov and McCoy are in a different and younger place in their lives. Derek Charm adds a sense of youthful energy to each panel and page and it helps “Starfleet Academy” stand out from the ongoing and classic Star Trek comics.
“Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” takes place in the star dates of 2258, some time before the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 was dispatched to investigate the “lightening storm in space” anomaly – Nero, and 2261, which follows five cadets participating in the Academy’s Centennial Games. The story is straight forward enough for newcomers to enjoy without having read the ongoing, but it does help if you’ve seen the 2009 film.
Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrott write the familiar and new faces quite well and each voice comes through in their dialogue. While Chekov did read in a clearer way unlike the way Johnson normally writes him, it wasn’t particularly distracting. The real highlight is Cadet T’laan, a Vulcan convinced by her professor to not depart from Starfleet. Issue two of “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” concludes with the furthering of the series mystery of a quarantined system that Uhura believes Starfleet is hiding. It’s an interesting story that plays into the more cloak and dagger aspect of Starfleet and the Federation and ties both star dates together. It will be fun following “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” and of how Johnson and Parrott use T’laan in the plot of the quarantined system.
“Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” issue 2 is out now and gets five stars! For more on Star Trek and IDW, please visit idwpublishing.com/startrek and to find a comic store closest to you, please visit comicshoplocator.com