"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 encounters two unusual non-humanoid cultures.
- Teaser, 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…
- 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 signs it with "Spock must die". McCoy suggests it might be nerves from three days of inaction. Kirk decides to check the sensors outside the ship with Spock. In an environmental suit, he writes on the starship's hull "I must kill Spock". He warns Spock he can't control his arm as he lifts a tool threateningly. Spock stuns Kirk with a phaser, but recoil pushes Spock backwards… until he bounces off of a black membrane encompassing the ship. Kirk is able to slice through the skin, but it reseals itself.
A humanoid-shaped glow appears. It is composed of many non-humanoid Balants which confess to having used their powers of levitation to manipulate Kirk into killing Spock — all so the Balants can take over the Enterprise. Kirk orders Bailey to fire ship's phasers at them, but the aliens absorb the discharge. Membranes suddenly form around Kirk, Spock and the aliens, revealing that these skins will envelop any energy sources. Kirk and Spock use their maneuvering thrusters guided by radio signals to get back to an airlock. Shutting down the ship's engines release the membranes surrounding Kirk, Spock and the ship, revealing an unidentified planet contained within a very large gas cloud.
The planet is not class M, so Kirk and Spock beam down wearing environmental suits. They come across a domed membrane on the surface. Several glowing aliens fly out to meet them, then retreat when a gap in the gas cloud lets in a large meteor shower. Kirk and Spock run for cover towards the dome, and enter 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 ends, Balants pile meteorites atop the force field to entrap Kirk and Spock, believing they will now be able to control the Enterprise. Bailey and Hikaru Sulu fly down to the surface aboard the Galileo and use its phasers to clear the debris. Kirk and Spock board the Galileo and head back to the Enterprise. Meanwhile, the Balant leader has found an open hatch and boards the starship. Suddenly he disintegrates—he was unable to withstand exposure to oxygen. Later, Kirk speaks with the remaining Balants outside the ship. He explains that they cannot 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 reenters normal space and resumes its mission of exploration.
- David Bailey • James T. Kirk • Lutian • Leonard McCoy • Spock • Hikaru Sulu • Nyota Uhura • Balant leader
Starships and vehicles
Races and cultures
Science and technology
- airlock • antibiotic • autoglazer • autoknife • class M • cooling system • computer • distress call • driver • forcefield • engine • environmental suit • gravity compensator • gun • maneuvering thruster • phaser • poison • observation port • radio • scanner • thruster • transporter • video • weapon
Ranks and titles
- animal • atmosphere • bioluminescence • bridge • captain's log • bluff • chemical • communications • crew • energy • gas • ghost • glass • gravitational field • insect • jungle • levitation • life • light • mail • meteor • meteor shower • meteorite • oxygen • plant • sickbay • space • star • starship • stun • tree • universe • virus • water
- TOS - Star Trek Video Communicator comic: "A Pill Swallows the Enterprise" – A capsule mysteriously envelops the Enterprise to protect it against a dangerous meteor.
- 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.
- Authorship of this story was attributed to Angus Allan. (ST reference: New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics)
- Joe 90: Top Secret #29 on 2 August 1969 featured the licensed publication debut of class F shuttlecraft and the Galileo. Galileo was seen in more detail in Joe 90: Top Secret #29 on 9 August. 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 31 January 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 compel 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 discuss 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 is explicitly not class M, as its atmosphere is poisonous to Human life and oxygen is deadly to the native Balants.
- Kirk's speech to the Balants is somewhat manipulative in that he does 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 spends three days trying to fix them, yet nobody looks out a window. When Kirk and Spock go outside the ship, the lack of visible stars proves that the sensors are working properly. Yet they still proceed to check the external sensors.
- Kirk's log entry is handwritten in this story, rather than dictated.
The Children of Stai
|TOS comics (UK comic strips)||Next story:|
The Eagles Have Landed
The Children of Stai
The Eagles Have Landed
The Children of Stai
|Memory Beta Chronology||Next adventure:|
The Corbomite Maneuver
- This story was published in two-page sections over eight consecutive weeks in Joe 90: Top Secret magazine.
- 21 June, pages 1-2 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #23.
- 28 June, pages 3-4 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #24.
- 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.
- 2 August, pages 13-14 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #29.
- 9 August, pages 15-16 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #30.