Star Trek: Starfleet Academy #3StarTrek_Academy_03-pr-page-001
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writers: Mike Johnson, Ryan Parrott
Artist: Derek Charm
Colourist: Derek Charm
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Covers By: Derek Charm (standard), Paulina Ganucheau (sub), Adam Rosenlunc (RI)
Editor: Sarah Gaydos

Release Date: 10/02/16

Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers!

Overview

After narrowly avoiding being caught by guards while breaking into the Academy archives, Uhura and Kirk learn that the secret that Starfleet are covering up is that at stardate 2159.68 (a hundred years before the founding of Starfleet Academy) after being trapped for 47 days, Captain Hendricks of the USS Slayton sent out the distress call that Uhura received over a century later. While listening to the classified logs, Uhura and Kirk learn that Hendricks lost control of the ship after a mutiny was instigated by the ships chief engineer. Uhura wants to make the logs public, so the families of those that were lost finally hear the truth, but Kirk informs her in no uncertain terms that he will not help her and jeopardise his place in Starfleet in the process.

Shortly after this Uhura is called in to meet with one of Starfleet’s senior admiralty: Admiral Alexander Marcus, who explains to her that while she shows much promise, her curiosity is getting her noticed in all the wrong ways and that the secrets of the USS Slayton should remain secret due to the instigator of the mutiny being the son of the founder of Starfleet Academy, which was founded in response to the tragedy.

After failing one of the events in the inter-academy competition due refusing to accept that she should risk the health of an away crew to save them, T’Laan informs her crewmates that she is heading to New Vulcan as soon as the competition is over, and through her conversation with Professor Trumble, we learn that she only joined Starfleet Academy at her parents’ behest, and that her first day at the Academy was also the day that Nero destroyed the Planet Vulcan (as chronicled in Star Trek ’09).

After some soul searching we see the students heading off to the last challenge in the competition.

The Story

Wow, what an issue! It’s a norm for middle chapters to be slower paced, set after the set-up of the opening issues but not quite near the pay-offs of the concluding ones. Not so here! The pace of issue 3 is breath-taking with revelations unearthed, secrets uncovered and surprises abound!

I enjoyed the link to the Enterprise episode ‘Acquisition’ and am hoping that Johnson and Parrott continue with the gelling of Star Trek’s past and future as the series continues.

The surprise reveal of Admiral Marcus was stunning and I really thought Uhura was being recruited into Section 31!

The revelation of T’Laan’s was so strong and so profound that you instantly understand her better. The reason she shies away from social interactions is because of extreme guilt that she is not there when what’s left of her people need her and the reason she works so hard is so that her parents last wishes for her are fulfilled and not in vain.

Writers Johnson and Parrott deserve so much praise for their characterization. The writing of Uhura and T’Laan is so strong, I don’t think the women of Star Trek have been written this front and centre and this well in years.

The Art

Series regular interior artist Derek Charm art is, if you’ll excuse the pun, utterly charming.

The design of the USS Slayton (NX-05!) was fantastic and I loved that the crew were wearing ‘Enterprise’ style overall uniforms. His style is light and fun, each panel filled with energy and packed with detail. I like looking in the background of each panel just to see which little nuggets of fun Charm has dotted throughout the issue; you really feel that Starfleet Academy is being bought to life in ways we’ve never seen before.

The Covers

This issue ships with three different covers, the standard cover by regular artist Derek Charm, a subscription variant by Paulina Ganucheau and a retail incentive cover by Adam Rosenlunc

The standard cover depicts T’Laan standing mournfully by a stunning tree planted as a memorial for the planet Vulcan on the grounds of Starfleet Academy, with the busts of Kirk, Uhura & Chekov on one side of the tree and Lucia, Shev and Professor Trumble on the other side. It’s a powerful image where we really feel the depth of T’Laan’s loss. The colouring on the cover itself is beautiful and it’s my favourite of Derek Charm’s regular covers of the series so far.

The variant by Paulina Ganucheau is a fun affair showing what life is like for the cadets of the Academy when they have there down time. We see Lucia eating lunch and looking at Vel apprehensively as he plays innocently with a creature he’s found in the grounds, T’Laan is working on something on her datapad (does she ever relax?) while Shev and Grace are playing a Frisbee type game in the background. It’s a fun bright cover that showcases the new characters personalities.

The subscription cover by Adam Rosenlunc is an interesting one showing the profiles of Uhura and T’Laan standing back to back silhouetted in different colours (Uhura is in orange while T’Laan is in turquoise) against a star-filled back drop. It really shows how different the two characters are and though they have different methods and even separated by time itself they are still working toward the same goal.

Overall

The story is moving at a fantastic pace and the surprises and revelations are coming thick and fast. The art is detailed and fun and the lines between classic Trek & the JJ verse are being blurred like never before. Johnson and Parrott’s characterization is spot on and I can’t wait to see where their unpredictable story goes from here. Star Trek: Starfleet Academy #3 is a treat for Star Trek fans and another home run for the creative team. Amazing stuff.

LLAP

Caleb
@CalebBeldom