I am coming to this series as never having read a New Frontier book before in my life.
As such, I did have some problems with accessibility. At the end of the day, it did no harm to comprehending the story. Comprehending the story was perfectly fine. But I couldn't help feeling that I would have felt much more immersed in the story if PAD had chosen to use a narrator that would have introduced the characters as we met them. Even simple identifying captions like Geoff Johns used recently in "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes" would have helped a lot. You know the type, like a narration box with an arrow pointing to a character, saying, "Yera Allon -- Chameleon Girl. Homeworld: Durla. Powers: Shapeshifting." Something like that, identifying all the key characters, would have helped a LOT. Not with understanding -- I understood everything perfectly fine. But with immersion.
The hurdles a new reader faces are just about my only problem with the story. PAD is great with continuity porn, it gives me huge immersion bonuses when I see characters like Jellico, Shelby, Lefler and the Majel Barrett lookalike character. I really could have used catchups on how Shelby ended an admiral so quickly when the main cast of TNG and VOY barely advanced a single pip in seven years. I also could have used a catchup on Lefler who seemed a drastically different character compared to "The Game". Maybe those catchups are upcoming in future issues, or maybe PAD is hoping to push people to read his prose novels. Frankly, I'd prefer the former because I'm lazy. But at the end of the day, the continuity is far more a plus for me than the trivial minuses that the lack of catchups is. The lack of catchups is a minor irritant, but the presence of continuity is a huge immersion bonus. It's a big net plus.
PAD also writes just about the most sophisticated IDW Trek story so far. I just wrote a tirade (in the Intelligence Gathering thread) on how the Tiptons, IMO, don't write deep enough. PAD gives me exactly what I felt was missing from the Tiptons' work -- debates, and interpersonal conflict that makes the characters feel real and not just plot elements. From Shelby's concerns over the marriage, to Lefler's debate with Kalinda about how to view the afterlife, I feel like there is meaningful dialogue between the characters, not just going through the motions of executing the plot.
Thompson's art is sufficient for my needs. As people probably know by now, I've criticized IDW Trek art. Well, this is good enough. Thompson joins Purcell and Byrne in my book as IDW Trek artists who are "good enough". Great pick, hiring him.
Overall I give this B+. More intro and more catchup (expanding the series to six issues if you have to) would have made this a solid A- experience.