Review: Star Trek: Year Five – Valentine’s Day Special
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: Paul Cornell
Art by: Christopher Jones
Color by: Charlie Kirchoff
Star Trek: Year Five showrunners: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly
If there’s one constant in the Star Trek universe, it’s that James T. Kirk will eventually fall in love. He’s done it too many times to count—he married Miramanee, had a son with Carol Marcus, and almost disrupted the timeline with Edith Keeler. How can we forget that he even made scrambled Ktarian eggs in the Nexus for Antonia? Suffice it to say, none of them come close to holding a candle to his one true love: the USS Enterprise. Or so it would seem.
After last year’s entertaining 20/20 stunt, IDW is back with a series of Valentine’s Day specials across some of their most popular titles. Set during the current run of Star Trek: Year Five, this one-shot introduces yet another love interest for everyone’s favorite serial monogamist. But this time, the relationship lasts longer than a 51-minute episode plus commercials. Most of the story takes place in the fifth year of the Enterprise’s mission, but their on-and-off relationship spans decades, and we get to see how Laura Rhone continues to impact Kirk’s life throughout the TOS movie era.
Penned by award-winning Dr. Who writer Paul Cornell, the special, titled “Captains of Sea and War” isn’t a throwaway love story set in a vacuum. It’s clear that he and “Year Five” showrunners Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly worked closely to make sure it fits nicely within their current-running series. It doesn’t directly impact “Year Five” but augments it, much like the Short Treks do with Discovery and Picard. It’s stated that Kirk and Rhone meet in year five but there’s no mention of the Tholian child storyline. Kirk is still struggling with his looming promotion to Admiral and losing command of the Enterprise is getting increasingly closer.
Taking nothing away from any of his past relationships, it’s clear that Kirk has met his match in the form of Laura Rhone, captain of the (pre-refit) Miranda-class USS Drake. She’s his female equivalent in all of the best ways—she’s direct, decisive and a natural-born leader. If I were under her command, I wouldn’t hesitate to stand with her during, say, an “extinction-level event.” She, like Kirk, is that charming.
At some point deep into the Enterprise’s fifth year in space, Kirk and Rhone meet during a chance encounter on shore leave and immediately hit it off. They fall hard for each other, sneaking away to go dancing, rock climbing and even reading paper books in what they used to call a library. As with any relationship (especially long-distance ones), things inevitably get complicated. As the months went by, they would meet in person sporadically, sometimes during a planned rendezvous, or in space battles with Nausicaan pirates and the occasional Romulans. Rhone is clearly meant to have been a fixture in Kirk’s life and while their love always seemed blissful, Kirk will only have eyes for someone else’s “ample nacelles.”
The incredible art is done by Christopher Jones on pencils and Charlie Kirchoff on color, who both absolutely killed it. You’d never know that this was Jones’s first time drawing Trek. Not only did he have to create an entirely new character from scratch, but he had to reproduce the uniforms and ships from the TOS, TMP, and post TWOK eras. The likenesses of the characters are spot on, even when they age through the years. Once again, IDW has done an excellent job of bringing new talent into the Trek family.
The Valentine’s Day Special is a refreshing, multi-layered love story that spans across three different time periods with some twists and turns you may not see coming. Laura Rhone is a winner and a character I wish we could have seen opposite Shatner on the screen, but this is a good consolation. It’s deep, heart-wrenching, and feel-good all at the same time. If you’re looking for something to read this Valentine’s Day, give it a read. You’ll love it.
Keep up with all the inked Star Trek in TrekMovie’s Comics Category.