Advance Review: An Unsatisfying Ending To `Star Trek – Strange New Worlds – The Illyrian Enigma’ #4
by Tom Smithyman
Comic book tie-ins to television or streaming series make big promises about how issues will have a big impact on the shows, but they typically fail to deliver. Instead, the comics’ creative teams are forced to tell side stories involving characters viewers don’t really care about or they write non-ending endings that have no bearing on what is broadcast.
That may be expected, but it’s still disappointing. It’s even more upsetting when it happens in a comic series that is as well written as Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – The Illyrian Enigma. This limited series was meant to keep readers excited about the upcoming sophomore season of the Paramount+ show by tying into the cliffhanger season one ending that saw first officer Una Chin-Riley arrested for being genetically modified.
The comics, written by Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson, captured the tone and voice of the show. That is significant and exciting. Beyer’s work as one of the show’s writers paid off in giving fans more to nibble on than the initial 10 episodes. Ultimately, though, they weren’t able to do much with it to further the story.
The artwork by Megan Levens – with colors by Charlie Kirchoff – does a reasonable job of capturing the likenesses of the show’s crew, with spot-on representations of the seldom-seen sickbay team of Dr. M’Benga and nurse Christine Chapel. In general, the artwork skews to being less detailed than in some comics, though it does tell the story clearly.
As authentic as the writing was, this comic series feel like a wasted opportunity. It would have been more fulfilling for readers – and likely the creative team as well – for publisher IDW to focus on telling a good, complete standalone story instead of glomming on to a tale that its team wasn’t allowed to finish.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – The Illyrian Engima #4 will be available for purchase on March 29, 2023.
As good and as authentic as this limited series has been, it fails to stick the landing for fear of interfering with the larger story being told by the streaming series. While the writers have captured the series’ tone and characters’ voices, by the time this final issue is over, you find yourself asking the point of the story.