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Exclusive preview: Kirk's bold mission ends in IDW's expansive Star Trek: Year Five

By Jeff Spry
Star Trek Year Five

Everyone recalls Star Trek: The Original Series' stirring opening narration stating the USS Enterprise's five-year mission "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before." This triumphant chapter in Starfleet history under the command of Captain James T. Kirk occurs during the years 2265–2270 and concerns an extended odyssey of deep-space exploration.

Now an ambitious new IDW Publishing series titled Star Trek: Year Five examines the final year of Kirk and his valiant crew's humanitarian mission into the unknown, and SYFY WIRE has a stimulating five-page peek and exclusive Issue #1 scene breakdown by one of its main story architects.

Star Trek Year Five Cover

Landing on April 24 with its initial chapter, the series is written by a rotating roster of talented scribes including Brandon Easton, Jody Houser, Jim McCann, and the creative team of Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly. Lanzing and Kelly have composed the opening arc, which will be matched with superb artwork by Stephen Thompson. Year Five will be the first stories specifically set during this pivotal time, and IDW's first series targeting TOS since 2008's Year Four.

Year Five P1

The saga finds the Enterprise on her homeward journey to Earth after the intrepid crew has traveled to bizarre new worlds, defeated uncanny foes, and survived universe-altering encounters. Now with the end finally in sight, they’ll face their most momentous challenge yet, an enemy that's been lurking in the shadows. We'll step aboard the beloved Enterprise with Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura, Sulu, Scotty, and Chekov as they begin the last leg of their uncharted trek. Ready for the ride?

Jackson Lanzing exclusively takes us inside the process by dissecting the opening pages:

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Jackson Lanzing: We begin at the end.

There’s nothing quite so important as the first page of a first issue, except perhaps the final page of that same issue. It can act as a thesis statement, a tease of stories to come, the plant of a mystery, or a ramp into the story’s first Big Moment — all of which operate to pull the reader deeper into your book immediately upon opening that cover. So in constructing our re-introduction to the classic Captain Kirk and his final year in command of the Enterprise, we decided to swing for all four of those opportunities.

This is the end of Star Trek: The Original Series. The final season. The last hurrah. And because this is Star Trek, we could utilize the Captain’s Log to say that directly, so the thesis was simple. The tease of stories to come is all over the page: Kirk is bruised and battered. The crew is gone. The Enterprise is crashing. How did they get here? And the mystery? Suffice to say: That shadowy figure with a weapon to Kirk’s head is a huge part of our story — both as a returning Trek character with enormous potential and a villain capable of taking apart the greatest crew in Starfleet with ease.

And as for the ramp into our story’s first Big Moment…

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JL: Okay, NOW we’re at the beginning. Whatever madness is to come, our story will begin in familiar territory to any Star Trek fan: It’s the Enterprise in all its glory. The crew as you remember them. A gorgeously rendered Hypergiant star. Space adventure, yes, but with an awe-inspiring lens.

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Star Trek is, at its heart, about how the human heart touches and affects the cosmic infinite — and Stephen Thompson couldn’t have nailed that dichotomy on this page any better. I thank my lucky stars every day that Stephen joined our team and brought his particular brilliance to the Enterprise.

But while Kirk and the Enterprise might be the stars of the show, there is one presence that defines Star Trek more than any other:

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JL: Enter Spock.

Writing a character as deeply intellectual and self-assured as Spock is both a challenge and a deeply freeing experience. Often, for the sake of lettering, Collin and I will work to really parse down the science delivered by any “smart” character. But with Spock, the point is to be as thorough, specific, and helpful as possible, so he’s going to use as many words as he needs to in order to get his Captain — and by proxy, the audience — up to speed. As long as you’ve done your research, Spock comes to life.

This page also acts as a great microcosm to showcase the day-to-day life of a Starfleet crew: There’s a problem threatening innocent lives and it requires the most professional, brilliant, and collected minds in the galaxy to solve it. Hypergiant explosions are a very real threat to life across the galaxy — one is thought to have caused the Silurian extinction on our own planet — and so giving the Enterprise the task of solving one felt like a beautiful way to open our series.

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JL: Finally, we’ve got the band together. Kirk and Spock, side by side, ready to be pioneers. Chekov and Sulu, deskmates for three years now.

And Spock delivering a callback to one of Kirk’s greatest lines (from “Return to Tomorrow”), last delivered to convince Spock of their obligation to explore: Risk is our business. The same could be said of anyone taking up the mantle of telling the final season of Star Trek. I very much hope readers and fans old and new enjoy those risks — and the story they weave.

Star Trek Year Five Variant

IDW's Star Trek: Year Five #1 takes flight on April 24 with a main cover crafted by legendary sci-fi/fantasy artist Greg Hildebrandt, who is painting in the Star Trek playground for the first time. Will you join the adventure?