So, months after the completion of the series I finally got a hold of the final issue of Year Four: The Enterprise Experiment this week. And so finally can offer up my thoughts on the whole thing.
Having just read through the whole saga my thoughts are mixed, it was much better than I remembered it being on the first read, but there was still something just a little off about it.
The story managed to do quite a lot, it was big, yet it was delivered in a way that didn’t make it too over the top. The political side of the tale I found most engaging, the balance between the three big TOS powers and the effects on it by the Organians and cloaking technology were explored with some depth and with great success.
That said it feels unfortunately repetitive, I’m sure the end of the Organian peace treaty has been done a couple of times before (as has the origin of the galactic barrier). That is forgivable as happening in older publications by other producers, what I find quite bizarre is that implication in this series that it was the events shown here that prompted the Klingons and Romulans to ally (the previous Romulan D7’s apparently being the consequence of one-off purchases between the empires) which rather flies in the face of how the alliance was formed as shown by IDW in John Byrne’s Romulan Alien Spotlight released before this series, and his follow-up two-parter Romulans: The Hollow Crown which was released just a month after the final issue of this series.
The final issue of the series in-particular leaves some massive dangling threads, showing Starfleet making use of cloaking technology and leaving a big unanswered question about what exactly it is the Edosians (not using the lit-verse name of Triexians to my disappointment) have ahead of them. I really hope both of these are answered in the not too distant future, they seem way too big to just be forgotten about.
One element of the series I very strongly disliked was the use of flashbacks and internal monologues/log entries for Kirk, Spock and McCoy to try and introduce a sort B-story of how the three rely on Starfleet for family and generally have made a mess of their actual families. This again seems a little too familiar, and in the context of the series it’s little more than a somewhat irritating distraction. Flashbacks used in the series also had a slight problem of sometimes occurring unannounced; the second issue opens with a flashback and then jumps back to the “present” without any visual signature change or notation of events happening at different times, which was rather confusing at first! Though on the whole most flashbacks are marked with rounded corner panels.
On the art in general: I don’t place Gordon Purcell anywhere near the top of my favourite artists list, and this series has done nothing to change that. His art is perfectly functional; it services the story, and as he so often praised for his likenesses are consistently spot-on. However there is rarely any flare to the art, it doesn’t have an especially eye-catching style, nor does it ever really play with layout or do much exciting. It works to tell the story but it’s not especially interesting.
All in all this series was, ok, not top of the IDW pile, but not quite at the bottom either. If you’re a big TOS fan I imagine you would enjoy it. If you like the character Arex it’s a must get, as he is used extensively and to good effect. If a decent sequel comes along to pull together the dangling threads left by the series it might gain it a bit more value as a lead into that. At the moment though, I think it can be summed up with: *shrug*.