Review: Star Trek – Year Five #22, #23, and #24
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly
Art by: Stephen Thompson (#22-#23) & Silvia Califano (#24)
Color by: Charlie Kirchoff
Star Trek – Year Five showrunners: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly
It only took 55 years, but the 5-year mission is finally complete. Strong from the start, IDW delivered a thrilling, complex narrative that was everything we could’ve wished for in a loosely serialized fifth season of The Original Series. This review covers the last three issues of the series and the equivalent of a three-part series finale.
The Voyage Home
At the beginning of Year Five, the USS Enterprise was on its way back to Earth to be refitted and Kirk was struggling with the acceptance of his recent promotion. Much has happened since the first issue back in 2019 but here are a few highlights. In a huge twist, one-time ally Gary Seven was revealed to be the big bad (more on that later), Spock decided to choose logic over emotion, and the Tholians threatened life as we know it. Speaking of the Tholians, there was a new recurring character in a gender-neutral Tholian refugee child nicknamed “Bright Eyes.” By the end of the season, Bright Eyes had contributed so much to Starfleet, that they were made an acting cadet, complete with a Tilly-style badge. By the way, that’s not the only Discovery callback. The aforementioned Harcourt Fenton Mudd’s likeness is that of Rainn Wilson, rather than Roger C. Carmel. That may not have been a creative decision but one out of necessity. Apparently, after Carmel’s death, the rights to his likeness are near impossible to get.
One of the most satisfying aspects of this series is the seeds the writers planted early on that actually get a payoff by the end. As we noted, they treated Year Five as if it were an actual TV show, complete with a writer’s room to break season-long stories, episodes, and plot lines.
Another fascinating (pun intended) throughline is Spock’s arc. We know he ends up almost completing Kolinahr at the beginning of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but we never saw that internal struggle with emotion and logic that got him to that point. This is where Lanzing and Kelly shine – by writing great scenes. There’s an incredible one in issue #22 where Kirk tries to relinquish command of the Enterprise to Spock, only to be turned down by the conflicted Vulcan. Spock sets the stage for Kolinahr, laying out his plans to resign his Starfleet commission and purge all emotion. Kirk realizes what this means – he will likely never see his friend again. It’s an emotionally charged scene that hits you in the gut like the blunt end of a bat’leth. Because you know everything that happens to these characters after this, it makes an impact. Paired with the amazing Stephen Thompson’s art, you don’t just see Kirk’s pain, you actually feel it. From the first panel of issue #1, Thompson has been one of the strongest pieces of this series, and for good reason.
The “Seven” Year Itch
As noted earlier, Gary Seven was revealed to be the primary antagonist of Year Five, appearing in multiple issues leading up to the finale. Back in Issue #17, we were told the backstory of how 35-year old Caleb Howell was initially recruited by Aegis, assigned to Earth, and ultimately sent on a mission to kill Kirk, here in Year Five. That mission, (also known as The Plan) is what Seven calls “Kolinahr for the galaxy.” Aegis has apparently seen every other Star Trek series and knows about the Dominion, the Borg, even The Burn, and the death and destruction that will happen in the next 1000 years. According to them, the only perfect species are the Tholians and everyone else is the flaw. Their plan is to stop the future from happening by locking all life in the galaxy within a stasis field, stopping all progress, and preventing everything from happening moving forward. Will the Enterprise save the galaxy? I’d hate to spoil it for you, but if you’re here, you’ve probably seen The Motion Picture and I don’t have to tell you that they made it.
All Good Things…
How do you top one of the greatest series finales of all time? Well, you don’t, but you get as close as you can. The final issues of Year Five have all of the best parts of a great finale – high stakes, a bit of time-travel, inspirational monologues from authority figures, outsmarting the villain, and special moments for each member of the bridge crew. Issue #24 had all of that and then some, including the incredible art from Silvia Califano. Her work is outstanding, especially for such a dialogue-heavy issue with a massive amount of talk bubbles to work around. What’s Star Trek without long monologues?
Captain’s Log, Final Entry
It’s been two years since the first issue of Year Five dropped and I’m sorry that it’s ending. It was an ambitious undertaking and it appeared that everyone involved cared deeply about the project. Showrunners Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly sought to tell politically relevant stories through the lens of the allegorical storytelling we love. They stayed true to their word, although nothing was more on the nose than a Trumpian Harry Mudd running for Federation President. With five shows in production, we’re in the midst of a new era of Trek on TV, and there are bound to be numerous prequel and tie-in comics (where are our Lower Decks comics?) related to them. I would imagine the future of Trek comics is bright and I do hope we see more of Lanzing and Kelly. Canon or not, how many people can say they wrote Captain James T. Kirk’s final log entry from the original 5-year mission?
The three final story issues of Star Trek: Year Five are available now, with #24 released on September 15th. You can order individual copies at TFAW. Or pick up individual digital editions at Amazon/comiXology.
The fourth and final trade paperback collection (which includes issues 20-25) will be released on January 25th. You can pre-order it now on Amazon.
Epilogue coming next week
Issue 24 marks the final story arc for Star Trek: Year Five, but a special epilogue issue will complete the series, arriving October 6. Here is the synopsis and cover for Issue 25…
The five-year mission may be over, but now it’s time for the next adventure to begin. Join the crew of the Enterprise for the end of an old chapter and the beginning of a new. This special, oversized epilogue from the entire Year Five writing team bridges the gap between the end of the five-year mission and the beginning of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
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