"Key Witness" was a 27-page Star Trek: The Original Series comic strip. It was the 21st weekly story arc in the UK comic strips series, published in nine installments in TV21 Weekly in 1971. This was the third of six stories drawn by Vicente Alcázar and Carlos Pino. In this story, James T. Kirk and Spock were assigned to a covert mission at a spaceport on Romulus.
- Omnibus teaser
- Enterprise junior technician George Maquire is set to testify as a witness in the murder trial of mobster Scarface Cass Conway, but Romulan pirates besiege the vessel transporting him to Earth.
Near the end of his shore leave on Earth, junior technician George Maguire visits his favorite recreation establishment, Louie's in New Pacific City. Unfortunately, he arrives at an inopportune moment, witnessing the murder of the bar's owner by mob leader "Scarface" Cass Conway. Maguire escapes, but fears for his life. Authorities arrest Conway pending trial, with Maguire as the lone witness.
Two months later, an escort ship is sent to retrieve Maguire for the trial. He is serving aboard the USS Enterprise, but panics and refuses to board the escort, requiring a Vulcan nerve pinch to render him unconscious. When he awakes aboard the two-man escort, Maguire wrestles with the controls, diverting the ship into the Romulan piracy sector where it is intercepted by a Romulan raider commanded by Captain Varkas. The escort is compelled to follow the raider to a spaceport on Romulus.
Meanwhile, near Pluto, James T. Kirk wants to pursue both ships through Romulan space to retrieve the three captured crewmen. Starfleet wants to prevent technical secrets aboard the escort to be revealed, so they authorize a covert operation. Kirk and Spock beam directly to the outskirts of the spaceport. They hide behind a hovercraft, riding onto the base past security. Disguised as Romulans, they relieve guards at the brig, but then a sergeant orders them to escort the three prisoners to be executed by a firing squad. Spock knocks out the sergeant with a nerve pinch, then frees Maguire and the escort's crew. The group proceeds towards a silo which houses the captured escort. When a general alarm blares across the spaceport and a force field forms around the silo, they sabotage a generator, plunging the facility into darkness.
Varkas and a pair of guards hide within the silo and ambush the escapees with weapons fire, killing the pilot and wounding the navigator. Varkas' gun jams, however, and he is forced to flee. He amasses a group of hovercraft and tanks to destroy the escort and silo. As the Starfleet personnel board the escort, Maguire apologizes for his paranoia and vows to testify against Conway. Together, the group powers up the escort and launches it, narrowly avoiding tank blasts. The vessel quickly escapes from Romulan space and rendezvouses with the Enterprise.
"Scarface" Conway was killed in prison, so Maguire remains aboard the Enterprise.
- Cass Conway • James T. Kirk • Louie • George Maguire • Leonard McCoy • Neronus • Montgomery Scott • Spock • Hikaru Sulu • Nyota Uhura • Varkas • unnamed Humans (criminals) • unnamed Romulans • unnamed Starfleet personnel (admiral, pilot, navigator, subspace radio operator, off-duty personnel)
Starships and vehicles
- USS Enterprise (Constitution-class heavy cruiser) • GK 1500 (escort) • groundcar • Romulan raider • tank
- Romulan Neutral Zone (Romulus • Spaceport) • Sol system (Ace • The Alcázar • America • Earth • Federation Headquarters • Louie's • New Pacific City • Pino's Show • Pluto • Zodi)
- Referenced only
- Jupiter • Saturn
Races and cultures
States and organizations
Science and technology
- airlock • battery missile • bullet • communications • communicator • deep-probe scanner • engine • engine • environmental suit • force field • gun • helmet • intercom • long distance transporter • navigation • Neilson stretcher • pistol • rifle • scanner • sedative • sonic disruptor • viewscreen • wrench
Ranks and titles
- admiral • armaments officer • captain • commander • commanding officer • crewman • criminal • Federation Starfleet ranks (2260s) • guard • guard • mobster • navigator • officer • pilot • radio operator • rank • secret agent • sentry • sergeant • serviceman • skipper • Starfleet ranks • technician • witness
- assignment patch • battle stations • beam • bridge • devil • distress call • dog • engineering • execution • firing squad • fishing • galaxy • gambling • general alarm • hour • iron • mob • mile • month • PADD • pig • piracy • police • prison cell • quarters • rat • refit • Romulan language • sickbay • Starfleet uniform • Starfleet uniform (2265-2270) • transporter room • Vulcan nerve pinch • war • Zodi
- TNG episode & novelization: Unification – In 2368, Spock worked for the unification movement on Romulus in the 24th century.
- TNG novel: Crossover – In 2371, Montgomery Scott and Leonard McCoy rescued Spock on Romulan-held Constanthus.
- The story was not printed with a title, but it was given one ("Key Witness") for its reprinting in the omnibus The Classic UK Comics, Volume 2. Each segment began on the cover and continued onto two interior pages of TV21 Weekly magazine.
- This story established the existence of a limited mob in Las Vegas-like New Pacific City on Earth in the 23rd century, with Conway described by Spock as Earth's worst criminal.
- This was the second of four appearances by Romulans in the UK comic strips series. Perhaps for lack of reference material available to the writer and artists, in this story and the last one, arc 12 "The Marshall Plan", Romulans were presented as space-faring Romans wearing helmets and capes. Romulans would be depicted with pointed eyebrows in arc 32 "The Perithees Alliance" and finally with pointed ears (but regular eyebrows) in arc 36 "Shell Game".
- Due to an unfamiliarity with Star Trek, the writer described Romulan piracy outside of their borders. Romulan territory was located near the Sol system, and it was possible to beam from outside Romulan space onto Romulus, which was spelled "Romulas" in the May 8 segment.
- The unnamed admiral in this story was reminiscent of Voysey, but with less hair.
- Kirk and Spock were said to speak the Romulan language fluently. However, Spock called McCoy "Mac", suggesting a placement early in their association, but after the events of TOS episode & Star Trek 1 novelization: Balance of Terror.
- The star system containing Romulus (which in later stories would be established as Eisn) was depicted as a binary star in this story.
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- 17 April 1971: Pages 1-3 published in TV21 Weekly #82.
- 24 April 1971: Pages 4-6 published in TV21 Weekly #83.
- 1 May 1971: Pages 7-9 published in TV21 Weekly #84.
- 8 May 1971: Pages 10-12 published in TV21 Weekly #85.
- 15 May 1971: Pages 13-15 published in TV21 Weekly #86.
- 22 May 1971: Pages 16-18 published in TV21 Weekly #87.
- 29 May 1971: Pages 19-21 published in TV21 Weekly #88.
- 5 June 1971: Pages 22-24 published in TV21 Weekly #89.
- 12 June 1971: Pages 25-27 published in TV21 Weekly #90.
- December 2016
- Reprinted in the omnibus The Classic UK Comics, Volume 2 (IDW Publishing)
- 28 September 2017
- Reprinted in the omnibus Graphic Novel Collection, Volume 20. (Eaglemoss Collections)