Star Trek: Starfleet Academy #2SFA2 cover
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Mike Johnson, Ryan Parrott
Artist: Dereck Charm
Colourist: Derek Charm
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Covers By: Derek Charm, Elizabeth Beals, (subscription cover) George Caltsoudas (RI Cover)
Editor: Sarah Gaydos

Release Date: 06/01/16

Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers!!!

Overview
In the year 2258 while still studying at Starfleet Academy, Cadet Nyota Uhura picks up a distress signal sent by a Federation Starship, after doing some digging she finds out the whole story of the missing USS Slayton has been classified by Starfleet.

Not giving up, she recruits the assistance of one Cadet James T Kirk who helps her break into the Academy Archives, only to appear to get caught in the act.

Meanwhile…

Two years later in the year 2261, Academy Cadet T’Laan and her squad are hard at work training for the inter-academy competition. After trying and failing to adapt to the social aspects of academy life, T’Laan retires to do more preparation for the competition, accidently uncovering a message from Uhura, sent two years before, warning her about the story of Wagner 219 being classified by Starfleet…..

The Story
After the excellent introduction of issue one, the pace slows somewhat in the second issue. This is a good thing as not only do we get to know the new class of students even better but we see the classic crew of students that we all know and love in their element at the academy.

The main story thread of the quarantined system is an interesting one as it is hard to see right now what could be so bad that Starfleet, a vessel for truth if there ever was one, would try to cover it up. I for one can’t wait to find out what.

I assumed that Uhura’s unrelenting regard for truth was just Uhura being Uhura, in her conversation in Kirk we learn it was what happened in her youth (and chronicled in IDW’s own Star Trek Ongoing (issue 18, that was also written by Starfleet Academy series co-writer Ryan Parrott) that drives her need to solve the mystery. This revelation informs so much of the character of Uhura and along with T’Laan, she may well be the breakout character of this series.

It was the small moments in this issue that made it as good a read as it was, Chekov blushing when Uhura hugged him (who knew he had a crush!), the learning of the new class of cadets specialities (Shev-Marksmanship, Grace-Piloting, Lucia-Knowledge) and Lucia accidently putting her foot in her mouth and mentioning the destroyed planet Vulcan to a clearly heartbroken T’Laan. It is the character beats in Starfleet Academy that I’m really enjoying and hope it continues as the mini-series progresses.

The Art
The art and colouring is again handled by Derek Charm, whose art is clean, clear and bright. Each character is filled with personality and the sequence where Shev is doing marksmanship simulations in Anti-Grav conditions was so expertly handled I’m surprised we’ve never seen it in live action incarnations of Star Trek. The character likenesses of Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana as Kirk and Uhura respectively are also spot-on.

Favourite panel this month goes to the image of the new students entering the academy party. Brilliant bright colouring and through the use of line work, Charm has ensured we can practically hear how loud the music is!

The Covers
This month we get the standard cover by interior artist Derek Charm, a subscription variant by Elizabeth Beals and a retail incentive cover by George Caltsoudas.

The standard cover is fun and action packed, depicting Andorian student Shev Akira in a firefight during the marksmanship contest with other students while Kirk and Uhura look on. It’s a nice cover with plenty of light-hearted charm.

Elizabeth Beals subscription cover depicts a nice Uhura and Spock image where they are facing in opposite directions and is a very nice image that matches the story being told inside well.

It’s the Retail Incentive cover that blew me away this month; it is simply breath-taking to look at. It depicts Uhura looking up in wonder against a Starfleet chevron background with Starships streaking by in the distance; we also get some images of the new students and the bottom. The colouring on this cover is nothing short of stunning and wouldn’t look out of place on anyone’s wall at home.

Overall
The story is moving along nicely and the character beats are very well done. The art and colouring is clear and crisp and the characters are written brilliantly, as you’d expect from Johnson and Parrott with the new characters being so well formed – I hope we see more of them after this series concludes, either in another Starfleet Academy mini or in the Star Trek ongoing itself. In this series we are certainly getting an excellent slice of Starfleet Academy life and I for one am more than grateful.

LLAP

Caleb
@CalebBeldom