Star Trek: Starfleet Academy the trade collects issues #1-5, written by Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrot, art by Derek Charm, letters by Neil Uyetake and Andworld Design, and edited by Sarah Gaydos.
I have been in love with IDW’s Star Trek series pretty much from day 1. I was originally intrigued to read reinterpretations of the classic TOS episodes in the Kelvin (new movie) timeline. But then the series became much more than that simple premise. The stories expanded and were more original. And now, IDW has further expanded the Star Trek universe with this collection featuring two sets of Starfleet cadets.
The book opens with a flashback to when Kirk and company were still at the Academy, mostly focusing on Uhura’s fascination with a signal she discovered in the long range sensor lab. But the primary, and superior story (though a few scenes with Kirk and Uhura made me smile–Johnson and Parrott really have the characters’ voices down) involves the new characters: Vulcan T’Laan, Earthlings Lucia Gonzales and Grace Chen, Andorian Shev, and Monzchezkin Vel K’bentayr. T’Laan serves as a focal point throughout the story as the outsider who eventually realizes her place within Starfleet. While Shev is your typical grumpy Andorian, I still loved the inclusion of one of my favorite Star Trek aliens. Vel is an alien who says what he is thinking/feeling–think of a more articulate Groot from the Guardians of the Galaxy–to great comedic affect. Chen is the loves-to-take-chances pilot, and Gonzales is the heart and mediator of the group. I really enjoyed these new characters, and I hope to see more about them in future publications.
Much of the story involves a competition between various groups, including the aforementioned cadets, that highlights each person’s abilities. The two stories (Kirk and company and the new cadets) intersect via the signal Uhura had been monitoring, which, it turns out, is from a lost starship from the Enterprise era (intentionally connecting to Star Trek Beyond?), the Slayton. Along the way, lessons are learned and friendships and forged.
The art, while skewing a bit to an animated style, was still well-done, especially the colors and likenesses of the film actors, and the collection reprints some of (all?) the variant covers, which were good (except for one). I especially enjoyed examining the backgrounds of the panels for the background characters, some of which were classic Trek aliens and others were that were new to me, but kept reappearing, just as you would expect at Star Fleet Academy.
If you enjoy the Trek universe and want more of the Kelvin timeline besides the movies and tie-in comic, check out this series/trade.