Rich Handley Author and Editor

Star Trek Comics Weekly #5

An ongoing discussion of how Star Trek comics provide prequels, sequels, and tie-ins to the episodes and films…

5: Gold Key, 1975-1976

Star Trek comic books are replete with prequels, sequels, and tie-ins to the episodes and films comprising the official canon, enabling fans to learn what happened to a favorite character or world after our intrepid crew moved on to other adventures. As the first publisher to produce Trek comics, Gold Key presented a rather unique version of the franchise. Yet as time went on, the writers began to incorporate elements of The Original Series—and, eventually, The Animated Series as well. This week, we’ll revisit issues #30-41.

Gold Key Star Trek #30-41

From a prequel and sequel standpoint, this span of issues offers slim pickings, as #31, 32, 34, 36, 38, and 41 contained no connections to televised Trek, while #35 and 37 reprinted prior issues (#4 and 5, respectively). Nonetheless, several solid stories were told during this period, including “Death of a Star” (#30), in which the Enterprise discovers an old woman who is the living embodiment of a dying sun; “The Choice” (#33), with the crew visiting the site of the Big Bang and finding a capsule containing another universe’s Jim Kirk; and “A Bomb in Time” (#36), which sent the characters into Earth’s past to stop a doomsday device’s detonation.

Only four of the 12 issues (#30, 33, 39, and 40) can be tied to TV lore—and in some cases, only peripherally. Issue #30 has an easily overlooked episode connection—not to The Original Series, but rather to The Next Generation. On Isis III, the Enterprise finds the abovementioned star-turned-old-lady (the sun-good Isis), who has taken human form to meet the starship crew before going nova. A century later, Jean-Luc Picard’s Enterprise would visit Isis III in TNG‘s “Too Short a Season,” following the death of Admiral Mark Jameson (presumably, the star is still intact at the time since the characters do not freeze to death in that episode).

The Enterprise crew meets Isis–the planet and the ancient goddess.

The plot of issue #33 is noticeably similar to that of TNG‘s “Time Squared,” to the extent that one can’t help but wonder whether the TV writer might have read this issue. In both stories, the Enterprise finds a vessel containing a duplicate captain (Kirk in Gold Key, Picard on TNG) from another timeframe. The starship becomes trapped outside normal space, with the current commander forced to choose whether or not to kill his counterpart in order to restore reality. The main difference lies in the conclusion: Kirk opts not to kill his doppelgänger, whereas Picard makes the opposite decision.

Starfleet captains keep meeting their doubles… and sometimes kill them.

Star Trek #39 contains a peripheral connection that highlights why the Gold Key series takes so much ribbing: a lack of editorial oversight resulting in some amusing snafus. In this case, France’s Eiffel Tower makes an appearance a century before popping up in two 24th-century episodes (TNG‘s “We’ll Always Have Paris” and Deep Space Nine‘s “Homefront”). The amusing snafu? The wrought-iron lattice tower had been destroyed in issue #7! One could view the tower’s return here as a continuity patch, given the TNG and DS9 appearances—perhaps it was rebuilt in the interim.

The Eifel Tower, resurrected

As for Star Trek #40, the tie-in is a stronger one, though with a bizarre continuity error attached. As fans know, Leonard McCoy was divorced from his wife before joining the Enterprise crew, leaving him estranged from his daughter Joanna. She was added to the writer’s bible between the first two seasons and was intended to debut in “The Way to Eden” (originally titled “Joanna”)—and to have an affair with Kirk, McCoy’s best friend. By the time the episode aired, Joanna had been replaced with Irina Galliulin and her tryst with Kirk was given to Pavel Chekov. She was then slated for a fourth-season episode, “The Stars of Sargasso,” which the show’s cancelation sadly precluded.

Joanna entered official history with the animated episode “The Survivor,” though in an offscreen capacity, with McCoy thanking Carter Winston for saving her life with his philanthropy. That episode aired only a few years before issue #40, so it’s conceivable the cartoon may have inspired writer Arnold Drake’s comic-book story about father and daughter reuniting. She and Kirk share flirtatious moments, as had been intended for the show, and her scenes with Bones make this one of the publisher’s better outings. Of course, in typical Gold Key fashion, Drake got her name wrong and called her Barbara.

Gold Key remembered that McCoy had a daughter… but not that she was named Joanna.

That’s it for now but come back next week. The issues to be discussed will feature many connections to The Original Series—including a few bona fide episode sequels.

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Looking for more information about Star Trek comics? Check out these resources:

Rich Handley has written books about Planet of the Apes, Back to the Future, and Watchmen, as well as licensed Star Wars and Planet of the Apes fiction, and he edited 70 volumes of Eaglemoss’s Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection. Rich co-edited Titan’s Scribe Award-nominated Planet of the Apes: Tales from the Forbidden Zone; nine Sequart anthologies discussing Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Hellblazer, Stargate, and classic monsters; and four Crazy 8 Press anthologies about Batman and (now) the Joker. He has contributed essays to DC’s Hellblazer: 30th Anniversary Celebration; IDW’s Star Trek and Star Wars comic-strip reprint books; BOOM! Studios’ Planet of the Apes Archive hardcovers; Sequart anthologies about Star Trek and Blade Runner; ATB Publishing’s Outside In line exploring Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, The X-Files, Twin Peaks, and Babylon 5; and a Becky Books anthology covering Dark Shadows.

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