Friends of mine stumbled onto a set of Star Trek comic book volumes at a local thrift store. Knowing that I would love such a fun pop culture find, they quickly snatched them up for me. I’m now the proud owner of the first 4 volumes of Star Trek: The Enterprise Logs published by Golden Press. Each volume contains 8 original Golden Press comic books. According to Ebay, these volumes are going for as much as $50-$60 now-a-days. Seeing as Jon & Amanda paid a dollar for each of them, I’d say they got a great deal! I read a few Star Trek comics growing up when DC Comics held the rights to publish Star Trek. I loved the movie era Star Trek TOS (The Original Series) comics back then. I’ve never read any of the old original comics from the 60’s and 70’s though. Now’s my chance!
I dove into volume 1 with the eagerness of a school boy! Right off the bat I could see the differences between the comics and their on screen counterparts. The introduction was an “Identi-Fax Psycho File” on James T. Kirk. Right away I could tell Gene Rodenberry didn’t have creative control over this comic. The “Identi-Fax” was drawn to look like a file folder with a paper clip in the upper corner. Roddenberry would have insisted that computers had long since replaced paper files. But moving onto the story– the Enterprise crew are exploring “Galaxy Alpha” and report that so far they haven’t found any life in the galaxy. The terminology immediately makes me cringe a bit. In Star Trek intra-Galactic travel isn’t really possible. But, whatever. It’s a comic book. So, let’s move on. The crew goes on to explore a hostile planet ran by plants. These plants feed on animals and keep them as livestock. They see our heros as food and treat them accordingly. They also have the ability to take animals and transform them into more plant monsters– maybe it’s how they reproduce.
The idea of sentient plants is also addressed in the Star Trek Animated Series episode “Infinite Vulcan”. However there the plant race, known as the Phylosians, are highly intelligent and communicate easily with the Enterprise crew. Kirk and company treat them with respect. However, in the comic book the enterprise crew see the walking plants as simply dangerous. They make no attempt to communicate with them or determine their intelligence level. They just.. well.. they kill them. They kill them all. (See image to the right).
Um.. WOW. How could this be Star Trek? The Enterprise crew’s mission is to seek out new life. Well they found it! And what did they do when they found it? THEY KILLED IT! How could Gene Roddenberry have let this happen? Well, I can only assume that money had something to do with it. Paramount/Desilu owned Star Trek and could basically do what they want to with it. I bet the studio sold the comic book rights to Golden Press and gave no additional input. I did some quick wiki-reasearch on this topic and found this:
The first Star Trek comics were published by Gold Key between 1967 and 1978. Originally they were illustrated by Alberto Giolitti, an Italian artist who had never seen the series and only had publicity photos to use as references. These comics were highly stylized and diverged wildly from the TV series continuity. Writers included George Kashdan, Arnold Drake and Len Wein. (Wikipeadia)
So THAT explains it! This guy didn’t know ANYTHING about Star Trek! And no wonder some all the terminology was off. Just check out this technobable:
“Laser Beam Destruct Ray“??? Don’t you mean “Phasers“. “Materialize us aboard“??? Don’t you mean “Beam us up“. And why is Captain Kirk talking into his tricorder instead of his communicator?? It’s like I’m in some kind of weird Bizaro-world where everything is slightly wrong!
Ok. So it’s not really “Star Trek”. But it is fascinating! It’s a total 60’s kids comic book take on the Star Trek franchise. And I love classic comic books. I mean, the Dick Tracy comic strips from the late 60’s were full of “ray guns” and fun 60’s pop culture ideas. The bright “POW!” “WACK!” style Batman books from the 60’s gave us Batgirl (my favorite comic book heroin). So maybe if I get over the non-Roddenberry ideas in these old comic books I can really enjoy them. I mean, Star Trek can use a little of this fun child like adventure, right? After all, look how cool the transporter room (sorry, I mean the teleportation chamber) looks!
More info about the comic: http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_Planet_of_No_Return