Review: Star Trek Starfleet Academy #3

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StarTrek_Academy_03-pr-1

Publisher: IDW
Writers: Mike Johnson & Ryan Parrott
Art: Derek Charm
Letters: Neil Uyetake

I remember reading issue #1 of Star Trek: Starfleet Academy and being pretty excited about where the story might go. The addition of some new, Starfleet Academy cadets running parallel with flashes back in time to the early days of the crew of the Enterprise seemed like a great move.

The excitement has faded to some extent but Starfleet Academy still shows a decent amount of promise. The sequences featuring the crew we know and, let’s be honest, are picking up this comic to see, are just fine. It’s the newer kids who aren’t generating much buzz for me. The writing for the younger crew doesn’t always feel organic and it prevents the reader fully investing in them.

There’s a fun sequence in a medical class in which young cadet K’Bentayr goes against the basic rules of his assignment, much to the frustration of his teacher, but turns out to be the highest scoring student in the class. It’s fairly reminiscent of a young Jim Kirk’s handling of the Kobayashi Maru test so loses points for originality but it’s still a fun moment and it develops the character pretty nicely. It should be treated as homage rather than theft.

Starfleet Academy #3

The main focus of the new group continues to be the Vulcan, T’laan. I’m not fully engaging with her just yet as she’s very similar to Spock so it feels like a copy of his character but there is a nice moment during which she bares her soul about her true feelings on Starfleet Academy and the destruction of her home world. Again, we’ve already been through this sort of thing with Spock but T’laan’s motivations are different and actually a little more emotionally engaging than you’d expect for a Vulcan. In the company of other characters she seems typically Vulan but in this moment there is, conveniently enough, some real logic to her stubbornness.

The artwork isn’t awful by any means but it doesn’t give me much to shout about. When I reviewed the first issue in this series I mentioned that Kirk and Uhura were clearly meant to look like Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana respetively. In issue #3 the same can’t really be said. We know because of issue one that that’s the intention and while Chris Pine’s likeness is still basically there, Uhura looks nothing like Saldana anymore. It’s almost as if they tried to get Saldana’s likeness right in the first issue and then stopped trying because in issue #3 she could really be any other woman.

I’m sad to see the depiction of Spock is still as flat as it was in issue #1. I’d really hoped this might tighten up a little and come to resemble Zachary Quinto a bit more. As in previous issues, however, he just looks like a very hastily thrown together attempt to draw Spock.

Starfleet Academy #3

The real problem with the art in Starfleet Academy is that it would actually be fine if it wasn’t painfully clear that the characters we know are intended to resemble their big screen counterparts. You could have it look cartoony and it would be not only acceptably but fun! Unfortunately the attempted likenesses of the film actors leaves the reader feeling only half fulfilled.

I’m a massive fan of Star Trek: Into Darkness so the addition of future villain Admiral Marcus got me on board initially. I wanted to see him acting sinister and planting the seed for the bad sonofagun he will eventually become (this is a prequel comic, remember). We don’t get much of that but we do see him guarding the secrets of Starfleet Academy and warning others not to expose them so there’s the potential for him to develop. Keep him in the series and I’m happy.

It’s not clear where the story is going but I think it’s pretty essential that in the next issue or two we see the new crew hook up with the familiar faces of the Enterprise. If not that then we need to see more character development for the new team outside of T’laan. I’m hoping for the former. It’s the only way to guarantee people keep picking up Starfleet Academy.

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