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Mysteries, monsters mark remainder of Marvel’s 1980s “Star Trek” series

by Matthew Price Modified: April 22, 2013 at 2:40 pm •  Published: January 31, 2011

Star Trek #6-#18

The 13 final issues of Marvel’s 1980s “Star Trek” series feature stories from writers including Mike W. Barr, Martin Pasko and J.M. DeMatteis. These issues (along with Nos. 4 and 5) were collected by IDW in 2009′s “Star Trek Omnibus.”

In Star Trek #6, the variation on a “locked-room” mystery by writer Mike W. Barr and artists Dave Cockrum and Klaus Janson features an apparent transporter-beam murder.

When Ambassador Phral of Yannick VI is dead upon beaming to the Enterprise, it jeopardizes the planet’s plans to join the Federation.  It’s up to Spock and McCoy to find out who killed Phral, and what Captain Kirk’s connection is to the man’s past.

The mystery is solved a bit too neatly, but it’s got its charms.  A decent issue.

With Star Trek #7, Tom DeFalco and Mike Nasser take over the reins of the continuing adventures of the Starship Enterprise. Klaus Janson remains the inker.  When the Enterprise goes to attempt to save a planet from an oncoming radiation cloud, Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to the surface.  They find the seemingly primitive race on the planet built statues honoring Kirk, Spock and McCoy, years before they ever arrived.

Martin Pasko writes Star Trek #8 from Marvel, which returns Dave Cockrum as the penciller. But with Ricardo Villamonte replacing Klaus Janson on inks, the artwork takes on a flatter look.

The Enterprise is racing an agricultural engineer to a starbase for a heart transplant, but en route the crew is hit with a stasis beam – and Spock is transported off the ship. Kirk, McCoy and a team beam down to the planet, where they find two civilizations in conflict. They must rescue Spock without violating the Prime Directive, if possible.

The pacing on this one is a little off and the art’s taken a turn for the worse. It’s probably still acceptable for the era, but less necessary to seek out.

Martin Pasko remains the writer, Dave Cockrum the artist, being inked in Star Trek #9 by Frank Springer.  At times in his career, Springer was fantastic, but he doesn’t seem to help out the actor likenesses in this issue.  Still, the storytelling in the artwork is fine.  The story has too many coincidences for my liking, but Pasko has a decent handle on the voices of the characters.

In issue 9, the crew of the Enterprise are attacked by some madness-causing phenomenon after visiting the surface of a planet.  Kirk, Spock and McCoy have to solve the mystery, which seems to involve a new crewmember who used to date Kirk.

Michael Fleisher (“The Spectre”) steps in to write issue No. 10 of “Star Trek,” with art by Leo Duranona, inked by Klaus Janson.

Captain Kirk can’t go down to the surface of Barak-7 since he’s recovering from the flu. So Spock and McCoy will make the trip without the captain.  After their shuttlecraft has problems, they’re forced to crash-land on the planet, where they come in contact with its alien, barbarian culture.
Spock and McCoy proceed to violate the crap out of the Prime Directive, but the art looks good.  Unfortunately, this was the only issue in the Marvel run illustrated by Duranona.

Joe Brozowski and Tom Palmer, artists, join Martin Pasko for issue #11 of Marvel’s “Star Trek.” A former girlfriend of Scotty’s comes on board the enterprise as the assistant to the eccentric psychiatrist Dr. Wentworth, who is being escorted from his clinic, where he may be in danger of radiation poisoning.

But once he’s on board, strange monsters attack, and Wentworth leads the crew into insubordination.  As even Captain Kirk falls under Wentworth’s spell, it’s up to Spock and McCoy to save the Enterprise.

Lots of convenient coincidences in this one, though the art and the monsters are pretty decent.

Alan Brennert is the plotter and Martin Pasko the scripter for “Star Trek” #12, with artists Luke McDonnell and Tom Palmer. The former Yeoman Rand has apparently married a ball of light and plans to go on a deep-space mission with her husband, where she expects to never see another human being.

When something goes wrong on the trip, however, it’s up to the Enterprise to step in – perhaps even at the cost of the entire crew’s lives. The ending to this one is callous, though perhaps unintentionally, but it did have a “Trek” feel to it.

Artist Joe Brozowski returns to the series with “Star Trek” #13, along with Tom Palmer and “D. Hands,” which often in comics stands for “diverse hands” or, a lot of people. Martin Pasko is the writer.

A Klingon cruiser and the Enterprise are both in orbit around the neutral planet Hephaestus. Doctor McCoy runs into his estranged daughter Joanna on the planet, and her Vulcan fiancee, Suvak, who falls ill, requiring Bones to treat him.

Meanwhile, the Klingons hope to take the natural resources of the Hephaestians, putting them in conflict with the crew of the Enterprise. Joanna is captured by the Klingons, and it’s up to McCoy and Suvak to work together with Captain Kirk to try to save her.

Star Trek issue #14 is written by Martin Pasko, with art by Luke McDonnell and Gene Day.

The Enterprise visits Zeta Reticuli II, which appears to have a civilization very like ancient Egypt. A meteor shower is about to hit the planet, and Kirk and crew go down to explore the planet, and to warn possible inhabitants.

The ruins on the planet appear Egyptian on closer inspection, as well. While there, Captain Kirk is possessed by what appears to be the spirit of an ancient Pharaoh, and begins to subvert the crew to follow his new royal directives.

Gil Kane (“Green Lantern”) draws Marvel’s “Star Trek” #15, with Martin Pasko continuing as the writer.

Nice artwork from one of comics’ classic artists as Kirk, Spock and McCoy must infiltrate an alien prison and rescue a commodore’s son. Lots of action and intrigue, and even a moral, even if it gets pretty preachy at the end. One of the better of the “Star Trek” issues in this series.

Martin Pasko writes “Star Trek” #16, where he’s joined by penciller Luke McDonnell and inkers Gene Day and Sal Trapani.

The Enterprise has traveled to the planet Valerian to provide medical checkups to the Federation colonists of the planet. The colonists appear to be missing, but the planet does have an ample supply of trolls and gnomes in funny hats.

I really had trouble getting past the gnomes.

There’s a cool Walt Simonson cover on Marvel’s “Star Trek” #17, which marks the return of writer Mike W. Barr to the series, where he’s joined by penciller Ed Hannigan (“Cloak and Dagger”). Inkers are Tom Palmer and Dave Simons.

Priority orders have drawn the Enterprise to Goran IV, where a crashed probe could create a compound that could prove fatal to the planet’s inhabitants.

Spock, Kirk and McCoy go planetside and attempt to remain incognito, but they are suspected as witches and devils by the rulers of the time and captured. It’s up to a small child and an astronomer to help them contact the Enterprise, in order to drop the antidote and save the planet’s inhabitants.

The alien planet is awfully similar to Earth of the past, but I suppose that’s a bit of a Trek trope at this point. The art, for the most part, is pretty good.

“Special Last Issue Collector’s Item,” proclaims the cover to Marvel’s “Star Trek” #18, and while that’s sometimes true — the last issue of Marvel’s “Star Wars,” for example, is one of the hardest to find in the series — it seems an odd thing to trumpet on the cover.

On the inside, writer J.M. DeMatteis joins artists Joe Brozowski and Sal Trapani as the Enterprise encounters a huge mechanical construct in space. Aboard is the Sustainer, apparently a giant robot of sorts, who teleports Kirk and Spock to the huge world-ship and tells them that he requires something of them – one of them must die.

A quirky and somewhat trippy issue, which fits in with DeMatteis’ work of the period. Ultimately, a fine way to close out the Marvel Comics run of “Star Trek.”

- Matt Price
Comics read in 2011: 204. Still to go: 1807

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by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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