Sulu becomes a Klingon and beats up Kirk, Arex saves the day, we have some more random flashbacks, and Kor tries to kick the bejebus out of the Enterprise… who will win the race!? We find out in our review of the final two issues of D.C. Fontana’s forray into Star Trek The Original Series’ ‘Year 4.’
REVIEW – ST: YEAR FOUR – THE ENTERPRISE EXPERIMENT D.C. #4 & #5
D.C. Fontana and Derek Chester returned with the last two issue of their contribution to IDW’s Year Four series this past month and wrapped up their series which began with the aftermath of the classic Trek episode “The Enterprise Incident” and wandered off on a continuity porn filled extravaganza featuring the Preservers, the Organians, Klingons, and a ton of other references.
Over the last few months, Fontana and Chester have introduced us to Section 31 (sortof), brought in a cloaking device used successfully (and unsuccessfully) by the Federation, thrown some Klingons into the mix, dropped us into a super technological city, and then thrown us to the wolves… so where does that leave us? At the tail end of the third issue, the Enterprise had sent an away team down to the fantastically sophisticated city on Loren 5, and set them on their way of exploration. This leads to the discovery of an obelisk like that of the Preservers on Amerind in “The Paradise Syndrome”.
As with the other issues in the series, it is obvious that Fontana and Chester have an excellent feel for the characters of the classic series, whether Enterprise crew or others, such as Kor and his Klingon crew, or the other characters that make cameos in the story (including McCoy’s daughter and Sarek). The dialogue is crisp, and even when long, never really feels overlong and over extended. The banter between Spock, Kirk, and McCoy is fun and I could actually imagine the actors saying the lines. In such licensed comics, I find that this doesn’t happen too often for me, and one of the few other recent ones this occurred in is IDW’s first Doctor Who series, “Agent Provocateur”.
The other nice thing about this series is Gordon Purcell’s pencils. He takes me right back to the classic DC comics that he worked on back in the day. The stories may not have held up as well as this one, but the familiar drawings kept bringing you back. In the case of this series, the pencils draw you in, but the story brings you back. Unfortunately, over the last two issues of the series, we are “treated” to six different inkers including Purcell himself, Jose Marzan Jr. (“Y The Last Man”), Tom Nguyen (portraits and comic book how-tos), and Bob Almond and Bob Smith (both from past Trek issues across Malibu, Marvel, and DC).
The artwork is sharp, the story is full of continuity porn, but how does the overall plot really hold up?
With hidden meetings between Romulans and Klingons, other hidden meetings between Romulans and the Federation, overt conflict between Klingons and the Federation, it seems like everyone has an agenda. These meetings and agendas all come into play over the course of the fifth and final issue of the series, tying together all of the loose threads and revisiting all of the characters, closing out their story arcs. At the same time, the series does leave a few hints as to possible future stories and comic series. There are also a few suggestions as to lead-ins to stories presented in later series (TNG and DS9 to be specific). Hopefully Fontana and Chester are allowed to follow up this story and stretch out some more of the threads, but if only their editor can rein in the continuity references a bit, it’ll be so much better!
In some ways, this series, at times, felt like it went overboard on the episodic references, as if the two authors were trying to cram as many cross references into the story at once and trying to tie together a wide variety of episodes from the original Trek series. I’m not totally convinced that this was for the best, but once you get past the plethora of references, the storyline presented was interesting and pretty gripping. It was a pleasure to see Purcell’s artwork in something worthy of his contributions, unlike the prior Year Four series, which was lacking in a number of ways. I do hope that IDW can entice Fontana, Chester, Purcell, and Pallot to work together on more Year Four stories, as this series clearly shows the potential for what can be done.
Star Trek: Year Four The Enterprise Experiment #4 and #5 are available now at your local comic store. The trade paperback comes out November 29th and is available now for pre-order at Amazon for $13.59.
Pre-order the TPB of Fontana’s ST:Y4 Enterprise Experiment series at Amazon
(ships November 29th)
Hollow Crown covers
The next Trek series coming from comic legend is the two issue ‘Romulans: The Hollow Crown,’ a sequel to his Romulan issue of the The Alien Spotlight Series. The series kicks off this month with the second issue coming in October. Here are the two covers.