Review: IDW Is Back With A New “Assignment” In Star Trek: Year Five #11

Review: Star Trek – Year Five #11
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly
Art by: Stephen Thompson
Color by: Charlie Kirchoff
Star Trek – Year Five showrunners: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly

Cover by Stephen Thompson

After an almost four-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, IDW is back on course with a steady stream of Trek comics, starting with Star Trek: Year Five #11. Much has happened since we last visited the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise on their way home; here is the story so far:

Following another run-in with the Tholians, Kirk is seriously injured and lands in a coma, saved from death by a mysterious water-breathing alien named Ayal who is far away from home. Spock is in command. On the way to Ayal’s home planet of I’Qos, Ayal and Sulu strike up a romantic relationship and quickly fall in love. Ayal’s species is pansexual and not limited to the “cage” of gender identity, often flowing in and out, which leads to a thought-provoking exchange about what it means to be a “man” or a “woman.” Ayal’s pronouns (like the Tholian child nicknamed Bright Eyes) are they/them.

Sulu and Ayal’s love is tested when Chekov inadvertently stuns the high chancellor with a phaser during a bar fight, igniting a civil war between the land and sea dwellers. That  not only causes a rift between Sulu and Chekov, but it’s also the retconned catalyst for the latter’s move from navigator to security. Because Sulu is uncomfortable sitting next to Chekov, Spock reassigns the young ensign away from the bridge “until such time when cooler heads may prevail.” His replacement? A certain Edosian lieutenant who graduated at the top of his class as a navigator named Arex.

This brings us to issue #11 and a whole new set of problems. Thanks to Ayal (who has broken up with Sulu and is back on I’Qos), Kirk has fully recovered from his coma and is back in command. The captain, so impressed with Spock’s handling of the situation on I’Qos, decides to give his first officer an impromptu command review. As we know, Spock will eventually (briefly) become Captain of the Enterprise in TWOK, but first, we need to get to why he left Starfleet to attempt Kolinahr before the events of TMP. Year Five is planting the seeds of doubt in Spock’s mind, beginning with his ill-advised mind-meld with the Tholian child a few issues ago. It was incredibly painful and he’s beginning to see some crippling side effects—most notably that his instincts aren’t to be trusted. It has changed him.

It was revealed at the end of Issue #8 that the only man immune to the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, Gary Seven, had returned. It’s been a couple of years since Kirk and company have seen Seven, and, boy, have things changed. While his true motives are unknown, he has a new assignment: to kill every member of the crew, including Kirk himself.

Seven infiltrates the Enterprise and makes his way down to engineering. After a melee with some red shirts and new security chief Chekov, he shuts down the environmental controls. The crew abandons ship for the planet below, with Kirk and Seven the last men standing.

This the just the beginning of a multi-issue arc featuring Gary Seven along with his shapeshifting cat, Isis. While not much has been revealed just yet, here’s what we know: Command has taken sides in the Federation vs Tholians and unfortunately, the Enterprise and her crew have to go away, permanently.

Stephen Thompson is back and has quickly become of my favorite artists—his work in this issue is superb. As I’ve mentioned previously, he has a knack for cinematic storytelling and it’s evident again with this issue. From atypical “camera” angles to giant set pieces to special effects, Thompson is at the top of his game. The pacing of the issue is also well done—the action is intense and there’s a good balance of expositional dialog. Lansing and Kelly both know these characters very well and it shows.

Year Five acts as both a sequel to the original series and a prequel to TMP (with a little TAS sprinkled in). While juggling all of that at once may seem like a daunting task, showrunners Jackson Lansing and Collin Kelly have done a masterful job of interweaving old and new characters in order to tell stories that are especially relevant in 2020. We returned to Sigma Iotia II and now have a menacing Gary Seven. The Ayal arc that ended in the last issue not only introduced us to a new, interesting character, but also to a fantastical ocean planet Desilu Studios could only dream of putting on the air during the series’ initial run. Lansing and Kelly are fulfilling their promise of telling stories that couldn’t be done back then and they continue to deliver.

5-page preview

Click thumbnails to enlarge

Issue #11 Available now, Volume 2 collection in July

Star Trek: Year Five #11 was released Wednesday, June 3rd. It retails for $3.99. You can pick it up at your local comic shop or via TFAW for $3.19. Issue #12 is due out on July 1, and you can pre-order that at TFAW for $3.19.

The second trade paperback volume of Star Trek: Year Five arrives on July 22nd. It collects issues 7-12 of the series. You can pre-order it at Amazon for $14.99

Keep up with all the latest inked Star Trek in TrekMovie’s Comics Category.

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Those covers are spectacular!

I would think Spock was a captain for several years prior to StII

He wasn’t.

I am enjoying this series, but it irks me that it ignores so many license stories that have already explored why Spock left Starfleet to study kohlinar–including some published by IDW. It’s sloppy that the writers keep reinventing the wheel instead of building on what has already been established.

Speaking to reinventing the wheel, this is probably the 6th or 7th Year Five in licensed material.

Ooh. Does this mean we get to see escape pods for the original Enterprise?

Even though other series from IDW and various novels have covered the last year of the Five Year Mission this series really outdoes them. The plots have connected to social issues like TOS did and the characterization is great but the best part is how original the ideas are in this series. Highly recommended.