“…’till fire purge all things new”: Year Four # 1

It is, if you’ll pardon the phrase, eminently logical that one of IDW’s first projects upon acquiring the license would be Star Trek: Year Four, a miniseries set in the uncertain missing period between “Turnabout Intruder” and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Fans have always found the Original Series to be irritatingly unfinished, what with Captain Kirk declaring that the Enterprise is on a “five-year mission” and all, and only three seasons of actual, extent television to watch. It’s also a particular itch that’s been with Star Trek for quite some time: It was certainly present as comparatively far back as 1992, as we saw with Star Trek: 25th Anniversary and Star Trek: Judgment Rights. Arguably, we can trace it back even as far as the late-1970s and the New Voyages series, though, as we mentioned back then, that was a slightly different scenario.

But really this is predominantly a concern for now, in 2007. For a thing like Star Trek: Year Four from IDW to exist, a number of things had to happen. We first needed to see Star Trek become once again a mainstream phenomenon and aggressively court its cultish, proto-Nerd Culture fanbase, swiftly ensuring that Star Trek was once again very much no longer a mainstream phenomenon. Then we had to let the franchise lie fallow for a few years before reviving the tie-in comic side of it as we kill time before that oft-rumoured new movie will hopefully make our franchise great again. And IDW, a company essentially built around catering towards Nerd Culture interests, or things that, through neglect, have become exclusively Nerd Culture interests (it’s very telling one of their marquee titles is a Transformers book), was really the only publisher that could have picked up Star Trek at this point.

And so we get a Star Trek series with a very Nerd Culture agenda: Tie off those annoying loose ends from that bit of the franchise that was canceled so it gets a proper ending and observes proper Aristotelian narrative structure and also ensuring no new stories can ever be told in that series again, because if its one thing Nerds hate more than their favourite show getting canceled prematurely, it’s having their favourite show continue, but without their explicit approval and permission.

But I’m jumping ahead of myself. IDW’s Nerd Culture inklings most certainly do catch up with it, but this is most obvious in this miniseries’ sequel series (how apropos) Star Trek: Final Mission. What we have with Year Four at first is really an attempt to revive a specific storytelling structure and formula, because while we’ve had twenty-five seasons of Star Trek since it, we’ve never really had an overt revival or reconstruction of the Original Series (despite how hard Rick Berman and Jeri Taylor may have tried at times with Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise). And I will give the creative team on this series credit, that’s precisely what “Year Four, Issue Number 1” (which obnoxiously doesn’t have any other title) feels like.…

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