IDW’s latest Star Trek collection proves Gene Roddenberry’s vision for tomorrow is alive and well in the Kelvin Timeline. The graphic novel that collects the 5-issue Starfleet Academy series (which finished its run earlier in the spring) is out this week.
IDIC – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations; sadly, society is still not in a place where differences are celebrated but feared and fought. However, as it has been for the past 50 years, Star Trek has always shown its fans where the possibility of shared cooperation could lead. Mike Johnson, Ryan Parrott and Derek Charm’s collaboration has produced a story worthy of The Original Series, and Gene Roddenberry himself, with the trio’s Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, which shines brightly as an example of IDIC in the Kelvin Timeline universe.
Narrating a story over three different time periods, Starfleet Academy focuses on a 100-year mystery (which coincidentally is similar to Star Trek Beyond’s NX Franklin, right down to the type of starship) as Uhura lays the groundwork for the reader and future cadet, T’Laan, four years later. It’s T’Laan’s story that is the main focus of Johnson and Parrott, but the double chronicle allows the tale to unfold more cerebrally than a straight-through story, as well as introducing the title’s new main characters – T’Laan, Lucia, Grace, Shev and Vel.
Brilliantly opening Starfleet Academy with Spock and Uhura at dinner, Johnson and Parrott hook the reader into the tale before jumping four years into the future to explain the plight now challenging Vulcan cadet, T’Laan, who feels her time would be best spent returning to her people on New Vulcan. However, a certain Tellarite admiral has other ideas for her, and so the story begins.
Embracing the 50-year history of the franchise and established characters and events of the Kelvin Timeline, Johnson and Parrott throw in more than a few familiar faces, references and visuals for fans to smile over. Meanwhile, Charm’s storytelling is illustrated with an expert tone for the mystery unfolding. Some of his panels are simply exquisite, including one of Uhura walking away from Kirk in the beginning of the story. Charm perfectly captures her loneliness and sadness in just one panel that does not even feature the character’s face.
Artistically speaking, comic books are a terrific creative medium to realize the potential of IDIC, as different individuals, experiences and personalities come together to craft a story that hopes to evoke an emotional response out of its readers. Not all stories are successful in accomplishing the feat, but when they do, as in the case of Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, it is truly something to behold.
“Maybe there’s something to the fact that because we put it in an unfamiliar environment, it changed and ended up becoming something – extraordinary.”