Standing Against The Unforgettable: Reviewing ‘Star Trek’ #4

by Scott Redmond


‘Star Trek’ continues to take the franchise to strange bold new places, paying respect to what came before while charting its own course into the unknown. All the pieces are coming together as the mission of the Theseus gains new clarity, in an excellent very heavy science fiction perfect episode of Trek that is a gorgeous sight to behold.


Crafting a story with a mystery does not mean that one has to create something that befuddles the audience. A mystery where the answer has been staring you in the face, sometimes quite literally, the whole time can be just as compelling. Star Trek #4 takes a page out of that book.

What is it about that type of mystery that makes it compelling? Well, when it’s done right, which it very much is in this series, the revelation that the surprise was right there the whole time and wasn’t actually hiding makes you re-evaluate everything you thought you knew, but also moves the story forward because the who or the where or the what isn’t as important in the overall scheme as what happens now. With the reveal out of the way, one can dive even more into character moments and wider beats to explain the whys and shoot the story into whole new realms toward whatever the conclusion might be.

Beyond this moment there will be spoilers revealing things about the God killers, so warp yourself back to the issue if you haven’t given it a read yet. Trust me, you want to read it yourself first.

Okay good, welcome back if you bounced, we can get into the reveal now. When I made that line about “staring one in the face,” well I was being quite literal since we learn here that the god-like being killing ship’s captains is Emperor Kahless, who was basically staring us in the face during his original reveal back in the second issue.  See what I mean about re-evaluating things after reading this? Now we know that Kahless was essentially toying with Sisko, his crew, and Worf in the second issue because he knew what they would find when he sent them to Sarkadesh. Basically, Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing gave us the killer openly and cryptically gloating about their plan/triumph to the hero but with Klingons, which is just amazing.

It’s also a reveal that just makes perfect sense. In fact, if one went back and read the Star Trek: Klingons one-shot from Jackson & Lanzing in 2022 — as I recently did — the reveal makes even more sense (as it was a Kahless origin issue). Even without that, though, it just works. Kahless is both a legend among the Klingons and the cloned version Worf helped bring back to the Empire years ago. He is still Emperor and has unprecedented control of the Empire currently with various houses allied against Chancellor Martok. This is a man who has defeated death (in a way) and speaks about how the Klingons slew their own gods. Klingons are seeking greater glory and battle, and what greater battle is there than aiding a long-lived Emperor in taking down the gods of the universe themselves?

While the reveal plays a big part here, what Kelly and Lanzing have crafted around it is just some pure Trek. All the science talk and the exploration as they come across the God City of T’Kon in all its ruined but still living splendor is mixed in with great character beats. To use a favorite phrase of the Internet, they understood the assignment (I feel old…). The Hivemind, as they are also known, has never shied away from the fact that they are die-hard fans with a deep love of Star Trek and it shows in every aspect of this series. Not only do we have characters from most of the original-to- 1990s era shows interacting in this story, but other elements from across the decades of Trek are popping in to season this piece of the universe to perfection.

That same love is very clear within the artwork of the series, which, in this case, is handled by two very familiar artists. After each handling an issue alone, Ramon Rosanas and Oleg Chudakov share this one. Having multiple artists working on an issue can end up in a variety of very different situations, ranging from smooth and cohesive to very jarring in execution (often because of just conflicting styles, not anything wrong with the artists). With Rosanas and Chudakov it is the former, as their styles are visually distinct but are close enough in various areas that it’s a pretty smooth transition between their pages.

This is a heavier character and overall storyline-type issue with some small bits of action, meaning that it’s imperative we feel everything from the characters and clearly see the wonders before them for the full impact. Don’t worry — that’s very much what we get here. Both artists are so good at nailing the expressions and body language while working to make space and the ship just so amazing to behold in every panel. I love a ton of the paneling choices, like the full spread across two pages of them entering T’Kon with smaller panels dotting the bottom to showcase the characters as they discuss this moment.

Assisting the artwork in being quite cohesive across the issue are the colors of Lee Loughridge. There are many things that Loughridge does so well as a colorist, but one that I really like here and like to point out is the accurate and varied lighting situations we have going on here. Spaces that are lower light or darker feel that way, with the colors more toned down to match the lack of light and the space feeling cooler in that respect. Right next to them will be panels with more light, which causes the rest of the colors to perk up into brighter realms. Similarly, in various spaces of the ship, there are different hues with the artificial light, and it casts that light onto the characters, changing how we behold their skin color or uniforms and everything else.

Through this, we get scenes that change from panel to panel, because Loughridge knows just when to pull back and when to really go all in on the colors. In many ways, it gives a bit more realistic touch to the proceedings, and in others, it fully plays into the science fiction roots of this series to give it that futuristic sort of glow. There are so many gorgeous shots of the ship, space itself, and everything else thanks to the work of Rosanas and Chudakov, enhanced by Loughridge which creates something that feels like it could come right off the page into our world.

If an issue is heavier on character and story over action, as I pointed out previously that this one is, that means there are likely far more things to be lettered; plenty of dialogue and captions to fill in the space and move us all forward. Good thing when a series has someone like Clayton Cowles on board to take on that job because it’s going to be handled perfectly. Cowles is one of those who can put all the words down on the page, spreading them out and allowing them to help guide our eyes through the pages just like the panel layout intends, but adds a bit of a spark to make it all work even better. We can feel and hear the characters through their words and captions.

Tone, volume, and emotion are key elements for us to be able to understand this world that has no audio for us to interpret. Little to big changes can instantly bring that sort of thing to life within words on a page and that’s one of many things that Cowles is so good at. Personally, I can very much hear the characters in my head, and not just because I know these voices so well from the shows. No, the way that they are presented on the page captures the right energy and feeling so that I can accurately tell how someone is feeling or what volume they are addressing someone within tacked onto hearing their familiar actor voices saying the words for additional effect in my mind.

Star Trek #4 is now available from IDW Publishing.

%d bloggers like this: