Star_Trek_ongoing_issue_20I’m back…but-a little behind on my reviews. Alas…the demands of a new job and schedule; the rigors of us working stiffs. This goes out to everybody, who just keeps chug, chug, chuggin’-along…
So-I’m looking at the IDW Star Trek #20 and I’m thinkin’, why does Sulu and Chekov have to share a story? Seems like they got a bum wrap, to me. The story of how these two eventual longtime friends meet, is a good one though, bringing some good morality play into the mix.

The story is written by Mike Johnson, with Roberto Orci. Art by Claudia Balboni and Luca Lamberti, Inks by Erica Durante, Colors by Arianna Florean and Lettering by Tim B. Long and Scott Dunbier.
We start out at Starfleet Academy with Hikaru Sulu in the midst of Red Squad and it’s leader Cadet (Lungworm) McKenna, who tells Sulu that he is in-the-running for a spot in this prestigious groups only-opening. She tells him, he has to perform a daring maneuver at the big Federation Days ceremony, and if he passes, he’ll be in Red Squad; if not…
Next, we see Chekov, running with other cadets in the forest, when he is tripped by Cadet McKenna, who has some passing barb, as she leaves him laying in the dirt. Well-guess who comes along? It’s Jim Kirk, who has been looking for the ‘Wonder Boy.’ They strike-up a convo and Kirk tells him he needs his assistance…

Star-Trek-(ongoing)-#20-Red-SquadMeanwhile-a distracted Sulu, is telling his friend David, what McKenna wants him to do: that is, make a dangerous fly-by during McKenna’s speech at the ceremonies. You can see, that Sulu is pretty reluctant to do this, despite the ‘reward’ of its success. David tries to talk him out of it, as well…

Back at the academy dorms, Kirk is getting Chekov’s help in developing a subroutine, that he’ll need in his upcoming Kobayashi Maru test. Chekov has a plan of evil intent up his sleeve, as well. He’s going to have some ‘fun’ with McKenna, himself: he’s going to transport Belzodian Fleas onto the stage, as she receives the Admiral’s Award. Surprisingly, Kirk relates a story of his childhood and how he hurt someone, in a prank of his own; only-it had very nasty results for his victim, and Kirk has subsequently-learned to regret his actions. Like Sulu’s friend, Kirk counsels Chekov to think, before doing anything he’d be ashamed of later. Kirk is then taken away by the very-lovely and, very-green Orion, Cadet Gaila… (Such a shame, as-we know what happens to her later…)

It’s Federation Day and Adm. Richard Barnett is giving a speech, warming-up to introduce Cadet McKenna… Chekov has his device ready and Sulu is about to make his fly-over. The words of the admiral’s speech has resonance, making both Sulu and Chekov rethink what they’re about to do.

Star-Trek-(ongoing)-#20-Federation-DaySuddenly, things go bad. David, (unbeknownst to Sulu, is also-up for the Red Squad posting), has decided to go ahead with ‘buzzing the crowd.’ Of course-his shuttle malfunctions and he is going to crash into the crowd. Sulu is calm and cool under-pressure and talks David into making another maneuver, which-will divert a disaster…
But-not, before his ship hits a tower, bringing it crashing down on the stage, where-a frozen McKenna, stands to have a fate far-worse than lungworm. It’s Chekov, though, who saves the day, now; risking his own hide, he pushes McKenna out of harms way.

Two-weeks later, Sulu is being welcomed by McKenna into Red Squad, because of his heroics at the ceremony. Sulu has a surprise for her: he turns her down flat; gives her a piece of his mind about the so-called ‘best’ of Starfleet, while he’s at it. Sulu is content to sit the helm for a decade, than to have any ‘help’ from her, and-her ilk.
We skip several years ahead, now-aboard a brand-new USS Enterprise… Sulu and Chekov are meeting for the first time. They share a quiet joke, in-regards to Lt. McKenna’s lungworm, and welcome each other to the fabled ship…

Star-Trek-(ongoing)-#20-SuluI really liked the story, here, as-it sets us up for the launch of the first movie, but-it’s really about life-lessons. It’s a story of what Starfleet Academy is all about; working hard to get the rewards, being honorable, doing the right things, owning-up to your principles and sticking by them… It’s like Kirk tells Chekov: “Just Because you’re a little guy, doesn’t mean you can’t be the bigger man.” That sums it up, pretty much, to me.

Despite my grumbling, earlier-about Chekov and Sulu getting the short end of the stick, I have to say, this is a good comic. The art is great, the attention to detail is terrific and the likenesses to the characters is pretty-damn good. I did have a couple of issues with some of Sulu’s renderings, but-nothing to really complain about. All-in-all, ‘Red Level Down’ is what STAR TREK is all about; teaching us some valuable lessons, and-that, as humans go, we can make the right choices and win the day. I gave it a four rating on IDW’s backpage

‘Til, next time…I hope everyone can take a gander at this tale and come away with their own lessons.

Later, friend(s)…

Written by Eric Gator1

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