Maybe I’m expecting too much from IDW’s Star Trek comic book line. Every time I pick up a collection, I find myself coming away disappointed in some way. In the case of this collection of seven stories from Star Trek: Year Four, I came away with far more disappointments than I anticipated or wanted.
Freed from the limitations of a television budget, I was hoping for some stories that captured the spirit of the original series while taking full advantage of the nearly limitless special effects budget of what can be drawn within a comic book panel. Instead, what we get are some stories that feel like they’re trying to be too clever for their own good (including one where the crew stumbles across a planet that is addicted to reality TV shows and the Enterprise becomes the focus of one. It should have been fun, but the meta-ness and the feeling of the writers trying to be too clever for their own good quickly takes over. It even feels too long and it only runs about twenty or so pages) or end up feeling a bit too rushed into the single-issue running length. It’s ironic that many times reading modern comics, I can’t help but wonder if we’re getting one issue of plot spread over six issues of publication. But I kept thinking that maybe making some of these stories into two-part installments might have allowed them to breath a bit or given us a few more moments to enjoy a bit of time with the characters.
That is, of course, assuming that you can figure out who is who character-wise. Thankfully, these are characters I’ve spent a lot of time with over the years, so it only takes a few moments longer than it should at the start of each story to figure out who’s who. This is my not-so-kind way of saying that the art in these issues is all over the map. I don’t deny the artists a bit of artistic license when it comes to drawing the familiar faces in each of the panels, but I found myself frustrated time and again by how the feeling that there wasn’t much effort being put into the art in this book. It’s enough to put a guy in a blue shirt and give him vaguely Spock-like features and we’re good to go, I guess.
Of course, if you look at the cover you can’t tell this is going to be the case. The superbly drawn covers from each individual issue are the highlight of the collection. But that’s seven pages compared to the hundred or so others that make up the majority of this collection.
In short, this one is a miss — and a pretty big one. The idea of telling stories from the fourth and fifth year of the Enterprise‘s five year mission isn’t a new one but it’s interesting enough and there’s some good stuff that could be done with it. Unfortunately, there’s very little done with it in this collection.