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Memory Beta, non-canon Star Trek Wiki

Skin Deep was a Star Trek: The Original Series comic strip published in 1969. It was the sixth story arc in the UK comic strips series, published in eight parts within issues of Joe 90: Top Secret. This was the sixth of 11 stories illustrated by Harry Lindfield. In this story, the USS Enterprise encountered two unusual non-humanoid cultures.

Publisher's description[]

Teaser summary, 26 July 1969
Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock have descended to the surface of a planet which is surrounded by a cosmic gas cloud. The planet's inhabitants have tried to take over the Enterprise because they have no mechanical power…


The crew of the USS Enterprise were perplexed as ship's sensors did not display any stars. Three days were spent on repairs.

Captain's log, stardate 4812.46. Computers register no fault. Mystery grows after four scanners dismantled. All in perfect order. Spock…

James T. Kirk had not meant to write "Spock" — his hand had moved by itself. Given a report from Leonard McCoy, he involuntarily signed it with "Spock must die". McCoy suggested it might be nerves from three days of inaction. Kirk decided to check the sensors outside the ship with Spock. In an environmental suit, he wrote on the starship's hull "I must kill Spock". He warned Spock he couldn't control his arm as he lifted a tool threateningly. Spock stunned Kirk with a phaser, but recoil pushed Spock backwards… until he bounced off of a black membrane encompassing the ship. Kirk was able to slice through the skin, but it resealed itself.

A humanoid-shaped glow appeared. It was composed of many non-humanoid Balants which confessed to having used their powers of levitation to manipulate Kirk into killing Spock — all so the Balants could take over the Enterprise. Kirk ordered Bailey to fire ship's phasers at them, but the aliens absorbed the discharge. Membranes suddenly formed around Kirk, Spock and the aliens, revealing that these skins would envelop any energy sources. Kirk and Spock used their maneuvering thrusters guided by radio signals to get back to an airlock. Shutting down the ship's engines released membranes surrounding Kirk, Spock and the ship, revealing an unidentified planet contained within a very large gas cloud.

The planet was not class M, so Kirk and Spock beamed down wearing environmental suits. They came across a domed membrane on the surface. Several glowing aliens flew out to meet them, then retreated when a gap in the gas cloud let in a large meteor shower. Kirk and Spock ran for cover towards the dome, and entered an underground city defended against meteors by a force field. This city was founded by Kalins, a similar-looking race to the warlike Balants who wanted to escape from the planet.

After the barrage ended, Balants piled meteorites atop the force field to entrap Kirk and Spock, believing they would now be able to control the Enterprise. Bailey and Hikaru Sulu flew down to the surface aboard the Galileo and used its phasers to clear the debris. Kirk and Spock boarded Galileo and headed back to the Enterprise. Meanwhile, the Balant leader had found an open hatch and boarded the starship. Suddenly he disintegrated —he was unable to withstand exposure to oxygen. Later, Kirk spoke with the remaining Balants outside the ship. He explained that they could not leave their protective gas cloud and must learn to live with the Kalins, but someday they might learn how to bring that cloud with them in space.

After drifting past the perimeter of the gas cloud, the Enterprise reentered normal space and resumed its mission of exploration.



David BaileyJames T. KirkLutianLeonard McCoySpockHikaru SuluNyota UhuraBalant leader

Starships and vehicles[]

USS Enterprise (Constitution-class heavy cruiser) • Galileo


Balant planet
Referenced only 

Races and cultures[]


Science and technology[]

airlockantibioticautoglazerautoknifeclass Mcooling systemcomputerdistress calldriverforcefieldengineenvironmental suitgravity compensatorgunmaneuvering thrusterphaserpoisonobservation portradioscannerthrustertransportervideoweapon

Ranks and titles[]


Other references[]

animalatmospherebioluminescencebridgecaptain's logbluffchemicalcommunicationscrewenergygasghostglassgravitational fieldinsectjunglelevitationlifelightmailmeteormeteor showermeteoriteoxygenplantsickbayspacestarstarshipstuntreeuniverseviruswater



Published Order
Previous comic:
"The Children of Stai"
TOS comics
UK comic strips
Next comic:
"The Eagles Have Landed"

Production history[]

  • This story was published in two-page sections over eight consecutive weeks in Joe 90: Top Secret magazine.
June 1969
July 1969
  • 5 July, pages 5-6 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #25.
  • 12 July, pages 7-8 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #26.
  • 19 July, pages 9-10 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #27.
  • 26 July, pages 11-12 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #28.
August 1969
  • 2 August, pages 13-14 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #29.
  • 9 August, pages 15-16 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #30.
April 2016 
Reprinted in the omnibus The Classic UK Comics, Volume 1 (IDW Publishing)
11 May 2017 
Reprinted in the omnibus Graphic Novel Collection #10 (Eaglemoss)



  • The story was not printed with a title, but it was given one ("Skin Deep") for its reprinting in the omnibus The Classic UK Comics, Volume 1.
  • August 2, 1969 featured the licensed publication debut of Class F shuttlecraft and the Galileo. Galileo was seen in more detail in the comic strip published on August 9. A shuttlecraft appeared in the first adult Star Trek novel, TOS novel: Spock Must Die!, published five months later in January 1970. A shuttle was also flown in the comic strip story published on January 31, 1970, "The Klingon Ultimatum". Over at Gold Key Comics, Galileo did not appear until issue #15 (November 1972) in TOS comic: "Day of the Inquisitors".
  • This was the longest of artist Harry Lindfield's 11 Star Trek stories, spanning eight issues and 16 pages. It was twice as long as each of his previous four stories.
  • Balants compelled Kirk to write "I must kill Spock" and "Spock must die." The latter became the title of the novel Spock Must Die!.
  • Kirk and Spock discussed landing the Enterprise. The starship landed in three strips: "Life Form Nonexistent", "Where Giants Tread" and "Ground Zero".
  • Although they looked like normal plants, the planet's foliage must not produce any oxygen. The planet was explicitly not class M, its atmosphere was poisonous to Human life, and oxygen was deadly to the native Balants.
  • Kirk's speech to the Balants was somewhat manipulative in that he did not say that exposure to oxygen killed their leader. Had Kirk identified the specific danger they faced, the Balants might have used their powers to shut down life support, take over the ship, and leave the gas cloud.
  • Oddly, when scanners showed a lack of stars, the crew spent three days trying to fix them, yet nobody looked out a window. When Kirk and Spock went outside the ship, the lack of visible stars proved that the sensors were working properly. Yet they still proceeded to check the external sensors.
  • Kirk's log entry was handwritten in this story, rather than dictated.

Related stories[]



UK comic strips
Weekly story arcs Life Form Nonexistent" • "The Crucial Element" • "Beware the Beast" • "The Third Party" • "The Children of Stai" • "Skin Deep" • "The Eagles Have Landed" • "Spectre of the Zond" • "Nor Any Drop to Drink" • "Menace of the Moloth" • "The Klingon Ultimatum" • "The Marshall Plan" • "Mutiny on the Dorado" • "The Ageless One" • "Thorpex" • "Under the Sea" • "Revolt on Dak-Alpha" • "Where Giants Tread" • "I, Emperor" • "Slaves of the Frogmen" • "Key Witness" • "Nova-Thirteen" • "Prison Break" • "Vibrations in Time" • "The Aging World" • "By Order of the Empire" • "Creeping Death" • "Ground Zero" • "The Collector" • "To Swiftly Go..." • "The Mindless Ones" • "The Perithees Alliance" • "The Saboteur Within" • "The Void of Storms" • "Spheres of War" • "Shell Game" • "To Rule the Universe"
Annual stories "Target: Zargot" • "A Bite of the Apple" • "Captives in Space" • "Planet of Rejects" • "Gateway to the Future" • "The Zodian Sacrifice" • "Smoke and Mirrors" • "Planet of the Dead" • "What Is This Thing Called Spock?" • "The Gods Have Come!" • "Rock and a Hard Place"

External link[]