Star Trek: Starfleet Academy #5StarTrek_Academy_05-pr-page-001
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Mike Johnson, Ryan Parrott
Artist: Derek Charm
Colourist: Derek Charm
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Covers By: Derek Charm (standard), Stephen Thompson (subscription), Malachi Ward (RI)
Editor: Sarah Gaydos

Release Date: 20/04/16 

Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers!

Whilst competing in the Inter-Academy competition, the new class of cadets of Starfleet Academy accidentally stumble on an anomaly hidden in time itself. Described as ‘time quicksand’ they stumble across the Federation Starship Slayton, which has been missing for over a century.

They knew it was missing due to a message left by one cadet Nyota Uhura who herself investigated the mystery whilst she studied at the academy years before.

While brainstorming with the crew of the Slayton (who themselves were in the midst of a mutiny) they come up with the idea to detonate the warp core of the cadets ship, and ride the shockwave out of the nebula and back into regular time and space.

After a few close calls, the cadets manage to free the Slayton from the nebula and are pronounced heroes on their return, each being awarded the highest accolade they could achieve at the academy.

After receiving solace from a Vulcan colleague and being assured she would be welcome at New Vulcan, T’Laan ultimately makes the decision to remain at Starfleet Academy. She also gets a communication from Uhura from the Enterprise, and the two young women congratulate each other and reflect on the fact that they solved a mystery as old as the academy itself.

The Story
What an ending!

Past and present collide in the final issue of this fantastic miniseries.

I loved how there are almost no story threads left dangling with the miniseries telling a complete story. I certainly hope the new characters return, either in another miniseries or appearing in the regular Star Trek Ongoing, as I’d really like to see Shev interact with his father and I’m desperate to see T’Laan visit New Vulcan for the first time. I also hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the USS Slayton and its crew, as a time displaced Starship suddenly thrust 100 years in its future seems rife with storytelling possibilities!

It was an inspired choice to showcase new and untested characters for the first story in IDW’s 50th anniversary of Star Trek celebrations but with the characterization being this good and the amount of fun that’s to be had here it’s one that definitely pays off.

I appreciated the scene with T’Laan and fellow Vulcan Diak because if anyone deserves some peace it would be T’Laan, with the need to be accepted being a big issue for her (and a lot of readers, including me) and through Diak, we also learn new details about New Vulcan which I really enjoyed.

The conclusion of the series central mystery was beyond satisfying and you should have seen the smile on my face as the cadets were being handed their medals!

The choice to focus almost exclusively on the new cadets was great with the final pages tying the narrative into a collective bow. Brilliant stuff.

The stakes were high and the tension even higher but there is always a lightness of touch at hand with most of the comic relief coming from Vel (“Pie!”)

The way Johnson and Parrott have fleshed out the Star Trek universe is brilliant with all the new characters, locations and aliens on display, the JJ verse all of a sudden seems a whole lot bigger!

The creative team deserve endless praise for the way they juggled multiple characters in different timelines to excellent effect. The pacing for the whole series was expertly handled and at no point did anything feel ‘filler’ with every panel of every page servicing the story.

The Art
As much as I’ve enjoyed Derek Charm’s pencils (and colouring) throughout the miniseries, he really was saving the best till last with issue #5!

His action scenes (especially those involving the escape from the nebula) came to life and had me on the edge of my seat.

The amount of detail packed into each panel is stunning and the style fits the story being told perfectly.

The light, bright and detailed art style is popular of late with similar styles being used to great effect in titles such as Marvel’s ‘Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and DC’s ‘Batgirl’ & ‘Gotham Academy’ it’s great to see IDW bring some of this ideology to their Star Trek line, especially in this series in particular as it really does have an ‘all ages’ feel.

Favourite Panel: In an issue packed full of memorable moments it was quite hard to choose this month. I ultimately decided on the sequence of the Slayton riding the shockwaves out of the anomaly as it is coloured so breathtakingly good in bright blues and pinks it was the clear choice.

The Covers
The standard cover by regular interior artist Derek Charm this month is possibly my favourite of the standard covers of the whole series. It depicts the new class of cadets standing side by side in side profile facing the Starfleet insignia. With the busts of Uhura, Kirk and Spock floating just above them, also in side profile and with the use of Uhura and T’Laan in the foreground of each line up, it continues the theme of these two strong women being the centre of the series. The use of colour is fantastic and you get the feeling that the new class are stepping out of youth and looking forward to the endless possibilities the future holds.

The variant by Stephen Thompson is a classy affair showcasing the new class of students on the Academy grounds in an almost ‘school portrait’ style cover. I loved this cover as is focuses exclusively on the new cadets with each character so incredibly detailed and defined that you instantly get a feeling of the depth of friendship that they hold for each other. The colouring is also incredibly good.

This month’s RI cover is a fun, colourful one by Malachi Ward. In an almost 1960’s poster style, the cover depicts the new class of cadets against a bright yellow background. It’s a nice cover but not a particularly memorable one, especially when in comparison to the series other offerings.

It was a great idea to use young characters with potentially unlimited possibilities for the future in a year when we’ll all be reflecting on Star Trek’s past.

I for one loved this jaunt to Starfleet Academy and would welcome further stories with these characters. Star Trek: Starfleet Academy is a fantastic story showcasing the women of Star Trek. A story for everyone young or young at heart, with fun characters and bright, detailed art. I for one think this miniseries was a brilliant way to kick off Star Trek’s 50th anniversary in comics.