IDW’s Star Trek: Year Five is back with an action-packed twelfth issue. When we last left the crew of the Enterprise, Gary Seven, the time-traveling agent last seen in The Original Series (TOS) episode “Assignment: Earth,” had taken control of the ship with the goal of destroying it and her crew. Captain Kirk ordered the evacuation of the crew to the planet Circe V while he stayed behind to face Gary Seven one on one.
Upon first glance at the issue, it is immediately apparent that the art style has changed. Stephen Thompson, who previously helmed the art for the previous issues, is only credited for drawing one page of this issue. The rest of the pages are split between Kieran McKeown and Silvia Califano. While Thompson’s art direction aimed for a more realistic portrayal of the characters, McKeown and Califano’s direction appears to be more stylized, taking a more cartoonish approach to the visual style and character design.
An eye for an eye
We begin the issue with a brutal fight between Kirk and Seven. As they punch and kick each other over the bridge consoles, Seven claims that he needs to destroy the Enterprise to complete his mission and save the future. Kirk is having none of this and proceeds to stab Seven in the eye with his teleportation device. The imagery is visceral and gory. Violence like this was never portrayed so graphically in TOS so to see it here is quite the departure from the expectations of this universe. Star Trek: Year Five now changes that.
Frustrated that Kirk won’t do this the easy way, Seven pulls out a gun and commands Kirk to set a crash course for the crew’s rendezvous point on Circe V. Kirk acquiesces, seeing no other alternative. It is hard to see Kirk so defeated in this moment. Usually he has a trick up his sleeve to defeat any enemy, but this time he has been completely bested by Seven. Kirk now has no choice but to destroy the Enterprise and the entire crew.
On Circe V, Spock addresses the crew and reveals to them that the captain is still onboard the ship. The crew immediately protests this decision and say that they should find a way to rescue the captain. This shows a level of loyalty to Kirk that is usually only displayed by the senior officers. It is interesting to get a deeper look into the average crewman’s feelings on Kirk since we usually only focus on the senior officers.
Down with the ship
Spock appreciates the officer’s concerns but chooses to use caution instead. Spock wants to honor Kirk’s sacrifice and not put the crew in further danger. This harkens back to the previous issue and Kirk and Spock’s discussion on the philosophy of command. A captain must be willing to put everything on the line for their crew, no matter the cost.
Doctor McCoy then spots the Enterprise hurtling towards them which shifts Spock’s cautious attitude. Spock commands Scotty to build a makeshift transporter using the Tholian Bright Eyes and one of the escape pods. This would be a simple plan if not for Seven’s sidekick Isis, who shows up at the worst time to wreak havoc on some unnamed Red Shirts. Poor Red Shirts.
Isis then uses her shapeshifting powers to grow six massive spider-like legs and continues on her path of destruction. Sulu and Chekov open fire on Isis while Bright Eye’s assists Scotty with the transporter. Isis continues to transform until she looks like a giant grey Tholian. A creepy piece of imagery that evokes something like a giant spider.
Where no one has gone before
Back on the Enterprise, Kirk records a heartbreaking final captain’s log. He recites his famous “These are the voyages…” speech, which might be the first time in-universe this speech has been referenced directly. Kirk accepts death but not before Spock beams aboard to save him. With Kirk’s help the two subdue Gary Seven. Kirk pleads with him to surrender, but Seven refuses and beams down to the planet. He confronts Isis, who hides behind phaser fire, and the two beam away.
Kirk and Spock then must make a daring course correction for the Enterprise, pulling it up at the last second just before it crashes on the surface of the planet. The day is saved, for now. We then hear Seven’s own mission log. He states that “…the Tholian front is advancing. Starfleet is living its final year.” A bitter end to a sweet victory. Gary Seven may be gone for now, but he will undoubtedly be back, sometime in the future.
The idea of the end of Starfleet is evocative of the concept for Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery, in which the crew travels to a distant future where Starfleet and the Federation exist no more. An interesting parallel to this Original Series tale.
We sail for Ithaca In Star Trek: Year Five Issue #13
Kirk closes out the issue by commanding Sulu to set a course for Earth. On the cover of issue thirteen, we see the Enterprise facing off against a myriad of diverse Starfleet ships. Perhaps by Seven not destroying the Enterprise, a new timeline has been created in which the Enterprise or Starfleet are now enemies. It is also interesting to see the silhouettes of so many unique 23rd century ships. We were only ever able to see the Constitution class ship in TOS, so to see such diversity in ship design for this era fully realized is very exciting.
Issue twelve of Star Trek: Year Five provided us with a new look on violence and action in Trek, pushed our characters to their limits, and set up an uncertain future for Gary Seven, the Tholians, and the Starfleet. What lies in store for our characters can only be revealed in the next issue. Stay tuned to Trek Central for the latest on IDW’s Star Trek: Year Five. The next issue of this thrilling series is due out in August 2020!