Written by Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly, Art and Cover by Stephen Thompson, Colors by Charlie Kirchoff
As a lifelong fan of both comics and Star Trek The Original Series, I have seen both the good and the bad in Star Trek comic book stories. More times than not, the stories I saw fell short in my eyes, mostly on the art side. Two items were always the “tells” for me, whether or not the artist passed or failed my “Trek Art Test”: drawing a surehanded, graceful USS Enterprise, and capturing the likenesses of the actors, particularly William Shatner.
Granted, she is a pain in the ass to draw well, but nothing is more painful to this Trekker’s eyes than an artist who struggles unsuccessfully with the ovals and curves of the Enterprise. With Thompson, there was not a wobbly, imprecise Enterprise to be seen.
And I have done enough portraits and caricatures to know that nothing is more difficult than capturing the likeness of a person who has relatively plain features like Shatner; there’s no large nose, or bowl cut, or bags under their eyes to emphasize. Shatner’s likeness has always been notoriously difficult to capture, both for comic book artists and action figure sculptors alike (I have yet to see a sculptor “nail” Shatner’s face well).
Very rarely does a comic artist pass both tests with flying colors, but Stephen Thompson does it more often in this single issue than other artists have done in an entire series. Thompson does very well capturing all the actors’ likenesses throughout, with no swings and misses. He even does a very observant job depicting the actors’ familiar hand gestures and body language. I was as impressed as I have ever been with Star Trek comics art.
Writers Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly have my respect for the way they highlighted Kirk’s compassionate, positive outlook and out-of-the-box thinking, sure in his judgment even when it runs contrary to the advice of Spock and McCoy. I also appreciated how Scotty’s brogue is only hinted at in the printed dialogue, and not overdone like many writers fall victim to doing.
One thing I was surprised by, though, was the writers’ decision, with the threat of interstellar war looming, to have Kirk choose to consult just Spock and McCoy on what he should do. I understand they were trying to illustrate how much faith Kirk has in his two closest friends and advisors, but with so much at stake, I would have thought more than two strategic minds would have been invited.
Take it from a hard-to-please Trekker: don't miss Star Trek Year Five from IDW Comics for a wonderful story and solid art.
• Ben Day dots used sparingly throughout as a nice accenting retro effect
• the artist making the effort to show people doing the little things you don’t normally see drawn, like capturing a person halfway down into a seated position
• wonderful font choice and word balloon treatment by letterer Neil Uyetake, to show Tholian speech
• a genius moment for Uhura!
• interesting and different camera angles we don’t normally see in Trek tv or comics
• brilliant incorporation of the ”Tholian Web” pattern into the Tholian commander’s uniform