Jaylah takes center stage as Mike Johnson reveals her background, how she came to be on Altamid, and what exactly went down between her father and Manas.
“Fierce” is one word that immediately comes to mind when thinking of the newest character to be introduced to the Star Trek franchise – Jaylah. Her on-screen debut in Star Trek: Beyond gave audiences a hint of Jaylah’s strength as she rescues Scotty from a group of scavengers. With enough backstory seeds dropped during the film, Mike Johnson and Tony Shasteen spend all of Star Trek: Boldly Go #5 exploring Starfleet Academy’s newest cadet.
There are several moments from Beyond that Johnson was able to use as a springboard for Jaylah’s story, including the revelation that her father died during their escape from Krall and her final confrontation with Manas. With so many characters to be served during the film, those were the backstory moments she was afforded, which left Johnson a lot of leeway when it came to filling in the blanks.
Rather than tell a straight origin story, taking readers from point a-to-z, Johnson and Shasteen utilized two clever approaches. The first four pages of issue five feature no dialogue as Shasteen simply presents the pain of Jaylah’s lonely existence prior to the Enterprise’s arrival on Altamid. It is a somber and poignant way to begin the story and reminds readers of the tragedy her character has experienced.
Johnson employs a series of flashbacks as his narrative for the entire issue, all of which takes place months before she meets the crew of the Enterprise. He begins by focusing on one moment and lets it play out, before jumping back to a prior event that led to that moment. The story is effectively told in reverse, which allows Johnson, and therefore his readers, to savor each defining moment in Jaylah’s life.
Jaylah’s discovery of the Franklin, her family’s arrival at Altamid, as well as what led to Jaylah’s life among the stars are just several of the moments in which Johnson focuses. Additional revelations include Jaylah’s technical acumen, her cleverness, and what her markings mean – all of which equals a fulfilling story for the franchise’s most intriguing new character since Seven-of-Nine 20 years ago.
Telling the story in reverse allows each portion of the narrative to capture a little moment in Jaylah’s life, before going back again. It’s not a gimmick, but an excellent way to present such a layered character’s origin. As the issue closes, Johnson and Shasteen realize the promise of Jaylah’s acceptance to Starfleet Academy on the final page. In the end, it seems to be destiny that “Jaylah belongs among the stars.”