Review by Karl Verhoven
The original TV series of Star Trek referenced a five year mission in the title sequence, yet was cancelled after three series. An animated version manifested in the 1970s, the budget permitting the addition of more alien-looking crew members, and some of these are included in what’s presented as the fourth year of the Enterprise’s mission. Not much, though.
All chapters are written by David Tischman (unfortunately credited as Tipton on the book’s spine), and as with his other Star Trek work, for the most part they maintain a standard of entertainment that should appeal to fans of the TV show. It might be assumed this could be taken for granted, but Kirk’s Enterprise crew have suffered some woeful adaptations over the years.
The poorest tale sees the crew visit the primary source of dilithium crystals, where there’s unrest among the population. The plot is most illogical. The best captures the light-hearted spirit of the show as the Enterprise touches down on a planet where rival TV networks exert an inordinate control over the population. Tischman blends action TV clichés and commentary on real world science-fiction TV show events as the crew have to perform for the viewing audience. “I have filled these vessels with different levels of liquid”, drones Spock, “and will endeavor to create different tones by rotating my finger along with vessels’ edge.” There’s an interesting twist to a tale where paranoia affects the crew, and the ethics of scientific research play apart in two other contributions.
It’s difficult to believe the Steve Conley who illustrates oddly rectangular heads over minimal flat colour backgrounds (sample left) is the same person also credited with the photo-realistic cover paintings for the comics in which this material originally appeared. The best of the artists here is Gordon Purcell (sample right), who supplies good likeness and solid storytelling, but then he’s had years of working on Star Trek material. The team of Joe and Rob Sharp are also up to scratch, but their contribution very much resembles re-worked likenesses photoshopped into the art.
This was successful enough to prompt a follow up titled Star Trek Year Four: The Enterprise Experiment.