Review: Star Trek: Year Four #1

Year Four postcardStar Trek: Year Four is the latest comic series from IDW. It is set in a notional ‘4th season’ of the "Star Trek The Original Series"  (during "Star Trek The Animated Series").

The Enterprise encounters an immense planetary mass, capable of supporting 800 billion inhabitants, with only twenty life signs. Beaming down to investigate, Kirk finds Dr. Othello Beck, renowned medical researcher and Phlox prize winner [ENT ref alert!], working in a vast scientific laboratory left by a dead civilization. With Beck are the B’nai, creatures he created to assist in the lab. Kirk and McCoy discover that Beck’s ethics are questionable. He’s hiding a terrible secret which ends tragically.

So goes David Tischman’s first tale of the fourth year of the original series, a bit of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau in space. As he did with his TNG series, The Space Between, Tischman easily captures the flavor of TOS television episodes, but he writes a very lean story. This means that we, the readers, occasionally have to piece together threads of the narrative on our own. Even though we’re familiar with the characters and their history, this can be disconcerting. I think I’d like a little more help from the author.

He's dead, Jim

But, I’d like to note that all the right stuff is there: Kirk has his eye on a unicorn babe and the first thing she does is offer him a bed; a redshirt dies horribly and McCoy says "he’s dead, Jim" with a straight face; and the bridge crew is joined by M’Ress and Arex, characters introduced in the animated series and seldom seen in comics.

Red alert

Steve Conley’s artwork resembles animation more than traditional comic art. The sparse backgrounds and bright Starfleet colors give the story a comfortable, lived-in, seen-that-on-the-tube, feel to it. But the entire crew of the Enterprise looks about twenty years old; no crow’s feet, no laugh lines, only a few wrinkles. OK, when TOS episodes were broadcast, the actors weren’t that much older than twenty, but this crew doesn’t look old enough to drink synthehol, much less be driving Starfleet’s flagship. Conley’s cover art is very different from the IDW covers we’ve seen so far. I like the dynamic effect of his cartoon-like collage. The traditionalists among you will enjoy Joe Corroney’s portrait of the big three, featuring McCoy and his favorite hypo. This image was used for a marketing postcard distributed at comic shops.

Issue #1 is a decent start to a new season of the original series. IDW plans to publish six issues of new episodes. I’m looking forward to reading more. Release of Year Four #1 will be preceded by IDW Focus on Star Trek, which contains a look at IDW, Star Trek, and a short comic story by David Tischman, with art by Len O’Grady, the colorist for Year Four #1.

Year Four #1
Written by: David Tischman
Art by: Steve Conley with covers by Conley and Joe Corroney
In shops: week of July 25
Covers: two regular covers and at least one incentive cover

Year Four #1 CVR A Year Four #1 CVR B


Preview first 5 pages (at IDW click image below)



What’s Next

IDW Focus on Star Trek, July 18
Star Trek: Year Four #1, July 25
Star Trek: Klingons — Blood Will Tell #4, August 1
Star Trek: Year Four #2, August
Star Trek: Klingons — Blood Will Tell #5, August
Star Trek: Aliens Spotlight — Gorn, September
Star Trek: Year Four #3, September
Star Trek: The Next Generation — The Space Between TPB, ISBN 160010116X, September
Star Trek: The Manga Volume 2 — Kakan ni Shinkon, ISBN 9781427806208, September, Tokyopop

Mark Martinez is an obsessive-compulsive Star Trek comics reader and collector. He also reads the occasional Star Trek novel and wonders why they don’t have any pictures. You can visit his website, the Star Trek Comics Checklist for more than you ever needed to know about Star Trek comics.

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The Enterprise reference killed it for me.

looks good. will it have chekov? or resemble TAS entirely?

I liked the Enterprise reference.

in the background of that bridge shot with Arex in it. i think thats Chekov leaning against the science station

what was the Enterprise reference?

btw anyone read got this one?

certainly apt in light of the new film eh (along with the 1991 annual of Kirks Academy Days )

The Enterprise reference was the Phlox Award



oh dear

I’m very disappointed to hear Mr. Tischman plot holes continue in this series, I’d hoped he might of learned his lesson from the mess of The Space Between, it really ruins otherwise great stories.

Telling the story of the fourth and fifth year of the Enterprise mission sound like a great idea. It is a shame the original actors are to old to play it.

10 – well – maybe thats what this film will be..

Has anyone one come forth and actually said ‘yeah its the first mission’

maybe it will be set after TOS but before TMP

however its more likley be whats been rumoured – events leading to the 1st mission on Enterprise

Phlox Award?

Oh, good grief…

Mr. Tischmann, please stick to what you know, and kindly steer clear of Classic Trekking.

That Phlox Award reference, as contrived as it was, wasn’t a big deal. But, God help me…

B’nai? He’s got to be ^%$#^* kidding me?.Leave that TNG Era-sounding crap outta Classic Trek, for decency’s sake.

whats B’nai??

B’nai – Jewish/Yiddish, actually. Seems to mean, roughly, “Sons of”, though
off-spring or descendants sometimes. IANAYS (I am not a Yiddish scholar).

Given the brief reference in the above synopsis “… the B’nai, creatures he created to assist …” this sounds extremely logical.

Love the “Enterprise” reference. It shows the writer’s respect for “Star Trek” canon. ;)

I don’t mind the TAS characters showing up, or the tiny reference to Phlox.

But that picture of McCoy with the body of the redshirt just doesn’t look right. Something to do with how his head connects to his neck is wrong.

I think it’s an excellent, well written and thoughtful review, but the reference to the actors in TOS being in their twenties is off; they were closer to 40 than thirty by the end of the show. That’s Kirk and Spock., McCoy older.

I’m sure some of you remember/still have the 70’s Gold Key comics…some of those were pretty good.

1. Josh T. ( Kirk is to Star Trek as Taco Tico is to texmex) Kirk Esquire’ – July 19, 2007

Sorry, you don’t get to pick and choose history. Star Trek includes ENT as well as TOS and TNG et al as much as history includes the societies of the Romans, the Hittites, the Bristish and Americans.

When references are made to things you don’t care for, just “let it slide.” Don’t let it ruin it for you.

By the way, what my mother and wife serves us at our table everyday in Premont, Texas is Tex-Mex Food… I’ve of Spanish/Mexican ancestry (as in earliest ancestors came from teh Canary Island before there was a Mexico) and have lived in Texas (Tejas…Coahuila y Tejas) since the 1700s and I had to use Google to find Taco Tico on Wikipedia.

Should read:

“I’m of Spanish/Mexican ancestry (as in earliest ancestors came from teh Canary Island before there was a Mexico) who have lived in Texas (Tejas…Coahuila y Tejas) since the 1700s and I had to use Google to find Taco Tico on Wikipedia. ”

The point being that TACO TICO (and TACO BELL) does not Tex Mex Food make. I will grant that Taco Cabana is much closer.

In anycase this is ancillary.

Love Trek for what it is and accept the various “side tracks” as Trek…but merely not to your liking.

Hi Major Joe Ely Carrales, CAP.

I think the issue with this is that people tend to dislike TOS/TAS retroactively referencing TNG/Berman Trek (not an attack on Berman, but since he was there for most of post 87-TV Trek, Berman Trek is convenient shorthand!)

It feels a little uncomfortable, because a lot of people put TOS/TAS in a separate ‘box’ in their heads. It’s probably because of the number of years between TOS/TAS and the sequel series. Remember, a sizeable chunk of us, who are still quite young, grew up before TNG hit our screens.

The TOS/TAS crew movies exist separately for a lot of people, as well, because of the medium for which they were made.

I know it seems bizarre but a TNG reference in Enterprise (which for a sizeble chunk of its run seemed more a prequel to Berman Trek than TOS) wouldn’t seem so strange. But a Berman Trek reference cropping up in a comic based on TAS just seems . . . a bit jarring and out of place. It’s not a gentle, make you smile thing. Rather it’s a ‘Hey look at me, fanboys! Check out the cool in-joke!’ reference. Weirdly enough, Berman Trek references in a comic set in the STI-VI probably wouldn’t jar as much.

I know it seems weird, but people are people!! Personally I find such references mildly irritating, rather than outrightly annoying. I’d rather they’d just tell a good story than slip in convenience continuity and smug self-awareness.

And, in terms of selecting history, you can. ‘Star Trek’ doesn’t include DS9, Enterprise and so on. Like the shows’ credits state, they are ‘Based upon Star Trek.’ They are spin-offs that carry a Star Trek moniker, but they aren’t ‘Star Trek.’ They set themselves in an adaptation of the Star Trek universe. The same even goes for the films based on TOS, which all clearly are set in variant versions of the Trek universe. Hell, TMP and TWOK are so very different, they’re in wildly different adaptations of the Trek universe from each other!

‘Star Trek’ with no colons and no additional words is TOS/TAS and The Cage. Although the new movie being purely called Star Trek throws a cat among those pigeons!

Wouldn’t it be fun if they could get Arex and M’Ress into the new movies, though!!

22. Dom – July 19, 2007

On may of your points I can conceptually agree, however, the whole issue of canon does exist.

I grew up on TAS, South Texas was “Trek Starved” from TOS and even the first seasons of TNG. TAS showed on Nickelodeon in the 1980s and that was it for me until TMP and TWOK (shown on HBO or Cinamax), ST:IV-V-VI and finally TNG came on in my area.

The result, as strange as this may sound, is that I have a love for “Universal TREK.” I look at it a a documented “history” of a fictional universe.

Thus, just like I can read a book about George Washington or Lord Admiral Nelson in my time; Picard could do the same for Kirk or Archer.

This is where Trek differs from other franchises. Trek is a history book rather than an Epic (like Star Wars).

Whiel some people “comparmentalize” their favorite, the body of the history exists.

TOS and TAS (including the Movie Era) will always be my favorite; however, that does not mean I am going to shun TNG or DS9. No more than my love of the American Civil War’s of the 1800s history would prevent me from acknowledging the events and persons of the English Civil War of the 1600s.

Wouldn’t it be fun if they could get Arex and M’Ress into the new movies, though!! Yes, yes it would.

My favorite Arex/M’Ress scene occurs in “The Practical Joker” where he invites Mr Scott to lunch and the food processors go meshuggah. Then Scotty says he’s gonna report them to the Captain. Poor TAS specific crew memebers taking “one for the team.”

Major Joe,

I kind of look at the Trek shows as one would look at, say, the Count Basie Band. The early thirties and forties the band had a real Kansas City blues sound, while through the fifties and sixties was more of a bop sound. It stayed consistent pretty much through the seventies and eighties until the Count’s death, but no matter what, it was still the Basie band.

For those who may be too young for this analogy, perhaps think Pink Floyd through the Sid Barrett years and then after Roger Waters. It was all Pink Floyd.

I wish the art were better. The cover art seems great though.

Seems like New Voyages is already doing a fourth year, so my head hurts trying to make canon work.

I suppose I have to go with the paramount stuff.

And as for Comics quality in general, Len Wein wrote some good ones for both the Gold Key and later DC and Peter David wrote some for DC as well.

I think Marvel did a few, including a return of Gary Mitchell.

I’ll check this one out next time I’m in my comics store to see the art in person.

I wanted to like these new Trek books, but the art is just godawful. I don’t mind a slightly “cartoony” style (such as in the Batman Adventure books), but the art here is just sloppy and amateurish.

I have added a preview link

24. THX-1138 – July 19, 2007

Yes, you are correct about Basie. I’ll take the anology to bands a bit further.

Glenn Miller’s death robbed us of what the Glenn Miller Band could have accomplished under his direction in the 1950s and beyond. Sort of how we view Roddenberry. Would a Miller Band with Miller at the helm have changed for the better or worse? Toward the end, Tex Beneke was doing things with the Glenn Miller Orchestra…is that sort of like Berman and Braga?

With the end of Roddenberry and the influence of others…well, what I am trying to say is what would Star Trek be like if Gene was still living and took back the helm?

I don’t think we would get TOS style shows…heaven knows with it would be like. Lots of us worship Gene because we are fans of TOS…however, would we still do the same if he was in charge now?

Would Gene take up with the Anti-War crowd and produce Anti-War Trek that would be so loaded with agendism that even anti-war Trekkers would find it unsavory? Would he tackle big issues subtlely like TOS…or just go loose with messages?

1st Season TNG was likely a sample of post-1960s era Roddenberry. Comments?

#22: “‘Star Trek’ with no colons and no additional words is TOS/TAS and The Cage.”

Nah, I call it all “Star Trek” – always have, always will. And since “Enterprise” takes place before TOS it makes perfect sense to have references to the characters and events of that show in new TOS-based stories and movies. We’ll see that increasing, without a doubt.

What offends my sensibilities is this –

During TNG et al’s heyday, they couldn’t be bothered with references to TOS, with the exception of the occasional throwaway episodes that you can count on one hand. Berman seemed above it, and frankly bothered by living in the shadow of TOS. No one was shouting on the mountaintops for a “universal Trek” then.

Now we are supposed to kindly accept allusions and references being hamfasted into TOS, stinking up and tainting up something wondrous that Trek producers couldn’t be bothered with say, 10 years ago.

I say thee yon squire, nay.

There is no “universal” Star Trek.

There is Star Trek.

And then there are four other spin-off series from the one core idea, and as we all know, each generation of clone is continuously worse possessing one half the fire and spunk of it’s originator.

TNG was half as cool as TOS
DS9 was half as cool as TNG
Voyager was half as cool as DS9
Enterprise was half as cool as a steaming pile of festering excrement served up fresh on a dirty ashtray. With a side portion of filet garbage’.

The artwork from what I can see is not terrific. Its not to what I am used to with the D.C. line in the eighties. I hate to say it but New Voyages has already laid claim to the Fourth Season of the original series …unofficially. I already consider TAS the fourth and fifth season Yes theirs always room for more Trek adventures set into TOS which I have no problem…
I still have some of those old comics lying around someplace.

Not that I’m really interested but I’m just surprised their is not more of a demand for anything on DS9, VOY and ENT as far as new comics are concerned. I would think fans of those series would have at least some readers.

(Let’s not forget, during an early episode of TNG Picard stumbles upon a computer search informing him there was once another Enterprise with a Captain named James T. Kirk, the man had never heard of him. )

That’s the regard Kirk and crew were shown by the successor series.

Josh…you basically got it.

Even saying “TOS” is wrong. There is “Star Trek.”
The rest is not.

…Bah. Tischman’s The Space Between left us with too many dangling plot threads. Here’s hoping he doesn’t pull that crap with this 4th season mini.


Um, I can’t COUNT the number of Roddenberry produced original Trek episodes that were ANTI-WAR in theme, as a matter of fact, when in the hell did Star Trek EVER advocate war as being a GOOD or righteous thing?

Kirk and crew bent over backwards, broke rules, lost lives, and suffered immensely, to always AVERT and prevent war, never champion it.


You got that right.

~*$#@&(+* sacrilege.

The Space Between Mr. Tischman’s ears is even larger than the obvious holes in his Year Four Series.

The Space Between this and his next writing gig should be larger than even the above. Is this guy for real? Pah. Anyone writing CT’s gotta know their %$^&, man.

B’nai. CT uses Latin-based names, Greco-Roman stylized race and/or personal names typically ending in -ian, or -on, or -an. Kling-on. Romul-an. Halk-an. Ioti-an. Vulc-an. Vendikar-an. “B’nai? B’nai? B’ull. Try Benar-an. Duh. Stick to TNG, pally. How B’anal. :P

Keep that TNG Era mess outta CT.

Tell me: How many Rituals involved here? Whose birthday is it? What’s for breakfast? How many alien strays to run loose and sabotage or {FILL IN THE BLANK] the [FILL IN THE BLANK]? Any Laughing Vulcans around?

What else happens? Hell. I’ll go for it…

Need any deuterium, anyone? Ensign [FILL IN THE BLANK]’s pet S’ilurian Slug Sam got loose, reproduced, and now it’s offspring have developed a collective intelligence, have taken over the ship and are heading for [FILL IN THE BLANK]. Right?

Ah, that was fun. :D

35. Josh T. ( Jim, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Sulu, Pavel, Uhura) Kirk Esquire’ – July 19, 2007

My point is that TOS attacked social issues in a subtle manner. It’s messages got people to think, but did not slap them in the face with some “contemporary” matter.

Thus, we don’t have Kirk and Company reveiwing history in the middle of the episode and say “knocking the Bush Administration” from the 23rd Centruy. Instead, if you wanted to comment on the current situation, you would run a story that paralleled the issue, set it in space…then allow audiences to “fill in” the message.

Politics must be kept out of it because all partisan politics is “petty” by nature and the use of it will alienate at least half of the audience. Plus, a story like the “parallel” I mentioned stands up to the test of time…while the overt attack would cause any episode to lose its relevence as soon as teh next election.

Thus, all issue tackled in Star Trek need to be of the type that hit archetypcal, concept or IDEAL level that can translate out of a time period.

I feel, if Roddenberry were alive today…he might be temped to try to use a show as a political hammer to comment on issues that would end with the current conflict.

There are no Republicans or Democrats in Star Trek and there must never be.

That was my point…

PEACE…let’s use the above examples as examples and not an attempt to bring this into a political lecture. I would much rather discuss 23rd Century Starship design or Starfleet tactics/structure.

“But, I’d like to note that all the right stuff is there: Kirk has his eye on a unicorn babe and the first thing she does is offer him a bed…”

FWIW, Kirk hardly ever has his eyes on a woman. If the comics portray Kirk as a womanizer… they’re wrong. Look at the original episodes and you’ll see Kirk is very rarely interested in women, and definitely gets laid only two or three times. I might add, those times were where he wasn’t in control! To support:

Well. It doesn’t sound bad. A little whacked out, but with a dark, serious message hidden in the colorful Star Trek universe. Arex and M’Ress are welcomed (think of the Next Gen cast size, compared to TOS).

As for the so-called “Phlox Award” … they give awards out honoring the man who was more infamous than noteworthy. What did Picard say? First contact with the Klingons was disastrous? Well it may not have been purely Phlox’s fault, what with Klingon zealotry and the fact that the Empire hadn’t really run into humans and their allies except for a few deep space travel meetings … and it may not have been purely “first contact”, since they’d bumped into them a few times, but if I had to name Phlox’s importance in the Trek continuity, it’d be the title of “Disastrous First Contact Doctor”.

39. Jovan – July 19, 2007

It is sad…all these article are seemingly trying to prove Kirk is basically Gay.

Why don’t you actually read it. It’s being objective. The other K/S stuff is certainly up for debate, but the fact that he hardly ever takes interest in women (and when he does, they are particularly awesome and intelligent women… not just some bimbo) is pretty apparent if you watch the episodes and stop pandering to your fantasies of him being a womanizer — a thing, sadly, that many Trekkies still believe to this day.

didnt GR say that TAS wasnt canon? i recently got the series and watched them for the first time. i think its safe 2 say they wont be viewed again. good for curiousity value but little else. btw i used to love readin the 2nd DC comics run in the early 90s. they had little updates on Trek VI on the letters page. those were the days….

Kirk definately has a false bad reputation that has been propogated over the years, the first misperception being that he is a shoot from the hip wild eyed fightmonger, and Picard is somehow the anti-thesis of this and far more of a diplomat. Negative.
I challenge anyone to find an episode where Kirk happily engaged in fighting or combat without having FIRST exhausted completely all options to AVOID a fight.
Kirk never invited injury and if you notice carefully considerable screen time was always devoted to showcasing Kirks mourning over a lost subordinate. He took every loss under his command quite, quite personally. That’s the hallmark of good leadership. Kirk wouldn’t send you on an away mission, he would accompany you! Kirk graduated from the talk softly but carry a big stick school of thought.

As far as women are concerned, Kirk’s one true love is the Enterprise, but that’s to say that there aren’t ….things…..that you can do…with a lady.

Remember this?

These marketing and PR people GET Star Trek.
Star Trek was FUN, and didn’t take itself entirely too seriously.

re: 44
“Kirk wouldn’t send you on an away mission, he would accompany you”

Making for much better stories.

…But in regards to the term “away” mission and “away team”
It’s a LANDING PARTY for cripes sake!

yea away team sounded like they were off to play some football. theres only one star trek and that was Star Trek…

hope they do sum ‘what ifs’ i got a star wars one where the Millenium Falcon crashs on earth..and is discovered years later by indiana jones.

heres a good ‘what if’…what if kirk & the ent 1701 had never come across the botony bay and it had been picard & the ent D (or E) who had revived khan ? so thats one id like 2 see – picard v khan in a space seed style story. e.g. set it after Nemesis riker and the titan find the botony bay, khan takes over killing riker etc… Picard & the ent E have 2 track khan down – the wrath of picard…..& ‘what if’ kirk and co had encoutered the borg?….lots of very cool ‘what ifs’ cud b done