Star Trek: Starfleet Academy #1SF Academy - 00001-page-001
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrott
Artist and Colourist: Derek Charm
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Covers By: Derek Charm, Jen Bartel (Sub Variant) Elsa Charretier (Retailer Incentive Cover)
Editor: Sarah Gaydos

Release Date: 16/12/15

Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers!!!

Overview
In the year 2258 (three years before the events of Star Trek ’09) we see the academy days of Kirk, Spock & Uhura. While going through teething problems in her new relationship with Spock, Uhura picks up a signal filled with distortion, only picking up the words “Help Ussss, Sssslayton”. After working with Chekov to make the signal clearer (and possibly making Spock jealous in the process) they managed to find a location: Wagner 219, the records of which appear to be classified.

Meanwhile…

Three years later in the year 2261 we meet a young Vulcan Starfleet Academy Cadet by the name of T’Laan who is planning to transfer from the Academy to help with the colonization of New Vulcan after Nero’s attack on her home planet (Star Trek ’09!)

After talking with her instructor, he persuades her that he will help facilitate the transfer after she helps Starfleet Academy win the ‘Inter-Academy Exploratory Competition’. After an uncomfortable meeting with her four new teammates, T’Laan awaits the start of the competition.

The Story
I loved the Academy sections of the movie Star Trek ’09 so the when I heard the announcement of a new mini-series titled: Starfleet Academy I got excited. When I saw the writers were regular Star Trek Ongoing scribe Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrott (writer of the fantastic story ‘The Voice of a Falling Star’ which spotlighted Uhura), I got even more excited.

I can honestly say I was not disappointed!

Being able to see the beginnings of Spock and Uhura’s relationship and seeing Kirk as he was before the Enterprise came into his life was a real treat. The voices of Kirk & Uhura in particular were fantastic, just like scenes from one of the films.

Of the new characters we spend the most time with T’Laan, who herself is a fascinating (pun definitely intended!) character who’s actually competing in this competition of peers while actually not wanting to be there, wishing only to be given the chance to help her people. I can’t wait to see more interactions between her and her teammates, Shev Akira and Lucia Gonzales in particular who I’m sure will keep her on her toes! We learn from Lucia that T’Laan had the ‘highest qualification scores in history’ so I’ve no doubt she will hold her own.

What I didn’t get was where Spock’s hypocritical dressing down of T’Laan came from though, as he himself was persuaded to stay in Starfleet after the destruction of Vulcan by Spock Prime. I hope T’Laan calls him out on it as the series progresses.

The way Johnson and Parrot handled the jumping of narrative between two time periods, one of which featured an entirely new cast of characters, was stunning. Although I thought it could get jarring, the switching of narrative was seamless and definitely makes it stand out against previous Star Trek comic stories.

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy #1 is also extremely new-reader friendly with only basic knowledge of Star Trek ’09 needed to follow the story. In fact, with all the new characters introduced I think it’s the perfect jumping-on point!

I’m intrigued by the mystery of the distorted signal and can’t wait to see where it goes and how the two time periods sync together further along in the story.

The Art
Art is handled by Derek Charm whose work I haven’t seen before but was really impressed by. The line work and likenesses were done very well and the attention to detail was fantastic (was that Deep Space Nine’s Morn on page 3? Could be, the scene was in a bar!). Not only did Charm do the art but the colouring (and cover) too! The colouring was bright, fun and packed with detail. The sequence with Uhura & Chekov working late at night with only the light of the monitors lighting their faces was a personal highlight.

Favourite Panel: For me it has to be the ‘Hero Shot’ of the new cadets near the end of the book, each character looks so full of attitude, you can’t help but wonder what kind of trouble they’re going to get in!

The Covers
The main cover by Derek Charm is a classy affair showcasing the busts of Kirk, Spock (and a full of attitude Uhura) in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco where Starfleet Academy itself is located. We also get our first glimpse of the new characters at the bottom of the image. It’s a fine cover with some nice colouring but it was the subscription cover by Jen Bartel really that had me taking notice! We again get busts of the same characters from the standard cover (just this time against a star back drop) but the line work and colouring are stunning to look at and the character images are bursting with personality. I think it’s my favourite of the three.

The Retailer Incentive cover by Elsa Charretier is fun, bright affair showcasing the new cadets. You get a feel of each character instantly by looking at it. The style is kind of manga-esque and its hard not to like!

Overall
What a first issue! A perfect jumping-on point for new readers with the switching of time periods, characters and mysteries flowing seamlessly, pulling you effortlessly through the story. The art is fun and detailed and the new characters are intriguing, well designed and I’m looking forward to see what their stories are.

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy #1 is a home run for the creative team and a promising opening to what has the potential to be, a fantastic miniseries.

LLAP

Caleb
@CalebBeldom