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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Star Trek: Red Level Down "Red Level Down"
Star Trek #20 (IDW)
Written by: Ryan Parrott
Story Consultants: Mike Johnson and Robert Orci
Artists: Claudia Balboni, Erica Durante, and Luca Lamberti
Cover by: Tim Bradstreet
April 2013


Sulu and Chekov each must make decisions about how they will comport themselves in their quests for success at Starfleet Academy.


Read the story summary at Memory Beta


Notes from the Star Trek Chronology


This story takes place during the last year of the main crew's education at Starfleet Academy, a few months before the events of "The Vengeance of Nero".


Didja Notice?


Page 1, panel 1 looks very similar to the shot of Starbase 1 in "The Vengeance of Nero", including several of the same ship designs in the same docking positions.


Page 1 states that the Federation was established in 2161. This was originally stated in the ST-TNG episode "The Outcast". Page 3 mentions the holiday of Federation Day. This was also first mentioned in "The Outcast".

Page 2 reveals that Sulu is attempting to become part of Red Squad at the Academy, which admits only the most elite cadets...the best of the best of the best. Red Squad was first revealed in the ST-DS9 episode "Homefront".


On page 4, Chekov and Kirk are running through the Muir Woods during Academy training. The Muir Woods are part of the Muir Woods National Monument north of San Francisco and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.


This issue tells a different version of the first meeting between Kirk and Chekov than the one presented in The Gemini Agent.


On page 6, David asks Sulu if he double checked the sarium levels on the shuttlecraft. This is presumably a reference to sarium krellide, a material used in power cells, as mentioned in the ST-TNG episode "In Theory".


On page 7, Sulu remarks to David, "I'm not gonna be one of those guys who gets stuck behind the helm for ten years." This is a reference to Sulu's position in the original timeline, where he remained the helmsman of the Enterprise for 10+ years during the events of the original series, the animated series, and films I-V.


This issue reveals that Chekov is hooked on chess.


Chekov has a poster in his Academy dorm room that reads "Keep Calm and Play Chess". This is a play on a British government propaganda poster of WWII produced by the Ministry of Information, "Keep Calm and Carry On." The poster was never displayed publicly during the war and was largely unknown until 2000. Since then, it has become fairly well-known, with numerous satirical versions produced as posters and t-shirts, including the "Keep Calm and Play Chess" one seen here.


On page 9, Chekov reveals to Kirk a prank he plans to play on Cadet McKenna by teleporting a swarm of Belzodian fleas onto the stage when she steps up to receive the Admiral's Award. McKenna is revealed as a female, Amy McKenna, and at the end of the issue she is said to be the sister of the male McKenna who was originally assigned as helmsman of the Enterprise before catching lungworm and being replaced by Cadet Sulu as stated in "The Vengeance of Nero" (here Sulu tells Chekov that both brother and sister have come down with lungworm). The admiral referred to appears to be Admiral Barnett, head of Starfleet Academy, as revealed in The Gemini Agent and seen portrayed by Tyler Perry in "The Vengeance of Nero". "Belzodian fleas" appears to be a misspelling of "Belzoidian fleas", which Q compared humans to in the ST:TNG episode "Deja Q".


The last two pages of the issue take place during the events of "The Vengeance of Nero", when Sulu and Chekov meet for the first time as they take their positions at the helm of the Enterprise.


Unanswered Questions


We never learn what Kirk wanted from Chekov at the Academy in the first place.


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