The Crucial Element was a Star Trek: The Original Series comic strip published in 1969. It was the second story in the UK comic strips series, and was released in four parts, in issues of Joe 90: Top Secret.
- Teaser summary, 8 March 1969
- Insane — poisoned by alien vegetation on Planet Crucial-3 — seven crewmen of Starship Enterprise mutiny! Captain Kirk … now cast adrift in a space wagon without means of contacting his ship…
As a landing party was exploring the surface of Crucial III, an analysis by Spock confirmed that the planet would explode imminently. The party hastily returned to the USS Enterprise in their space wagon, and the starship left orbit just in time to avoid shock waves from the explosion. But in the ship's workshops, the seven crewmembers of the space wagon fumed with frustration, and Hurst led the group to confront James T. Kirk. Kirk and Leonard McCoy tried listening to their complaints, but McCoy realized that the men had all been contaminated by poisonous pollen and driven almost to the point of insanity. Kirk and McCoy were dragged into Bay 4 and shoved into Space Bug 7 along with two other crewmen. Mutineers wrecked the space wagon’s communications system and set the ship adrift. Unable to stop them on the bridge, Spock sealed off control areas to protect the rest of the ship.
Kirk made a rough landing on nearby planet Vultra. A Vultran shuttle quickly approached, and the Starfleet officers were met by Zella, chief of the planet’s army. He said their sun was growing dim and their planet soon to die a frigid death. Zella demanded Kirk's ship to escape, but Kirk hastily secured the wagon with a voiceprint. Angrily, Zella locked Kirk’s team in a prison cell to be beaten by savage Valtarii. Zella again appealed to Kirk, taking the Starfleet team on a tour of Vultra, with a Vultran scientist mentioning that they had only interplanetary ships and were unable to leave their star system. Zella secretly recorded the conversation, and when Kirk inadvertently spoke the voice override command, the jig was up. Zella and the scientist abandoned Kirk and took off in his space wagon. Kirk asked to see the interplanetary Vultran spaceships, and was inspired to a solution: engine modifications and a merging of two ships would result in a viable interstellar vessel.
Hurst and his men detected Space Bug 7 approaching, assumed Kirk was returning, and blew it up. From the bridge, Spock saw the explosion and was driven nearly to a rage to stop Hurst's men. Spock's assault was repelled, however. He was able to devise a counter-agent to the spores and spray it into the air. Hurst's head cleared almost immediately, and he took a team to Vultra in Space Bug 4 to rescue the captain.
Kirk later said the mutineers would not be punished because they were not in control of themselves. At least two dozen Vultran ships were seen launching from Vultra on their exodus to another star system.
- David Bailey • Briggs • Hurst • James T. Kirk • Leonard McCoy • Spock • Hikaru Sulu • Zella • unnamed USS Enterprise personnel • unnamed Vultrans
Starships and vehiclesEdit
- USS Enterprise (Constitution-class) • Space Bug 4 (space wagon) • Space Bug 7 (space wagon) • Vultran shuttle • Vultran spaceship
- Referenced only
Races and culturesEdit
States and organizationsEdit
- bloodstream • brain • captain • Chief of the Vultran Army • cosmic shockwave • dictator • diplomacy • doctor • flood • infrared • laser-ray gun • mutiny • Noah's Ark • planet • poison • pollen • pollen irritation • prison • radio • star • starship • tape recorder • voice lock
The presence of Bailey on the Enterprise places this story early in the year 2266, before the events of "The Corbomite Maneuver". The stardates for the issue place it before the preceding, and first, story arc in the UK comic strip series.
"Life Form Nonexistent"
UK comic strips
"Beware the Beast"
The Kobayashi Maru
|Memory Beta Chronology||Next adventure:|
"Life Form Nonexistent"
- This story was published in two-page sections over four consecutive weeks in Joe 90: Top Secret magazine.
- 1 March: Pages 1-2 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #7.
- 8 March: Pages 3-4 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #8.
- 15 March: Pages 5-6 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #9.
- 22 March: Pages 7-8 published in Joe 90: Top Secret #10.
- 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 ("The Crucial Element") 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)
- This story featured the first appearance of space bugs, an alternative type of shuttlecraft seen along with space wagons and other vehicles in early story arcs of the UK comic strips series. Galileo would first be seen in comics in arc 6 "Skin Deep" in the year 1969. Galileo would debut in the U.S. in 1972 with Gold Key Comics #16, TOS comic: "Day of the Inquisitors".
- The premise of spores triggering a mutiny was also seen in TOS episode: "This Side of Paradise".
- Due to the creative team being unfamiliar with TOS, the starship was located “in a far-flung Galaxy millions of light years from Earth.”
- Zella resembled United States President Richard Nixon.
- Spock’s dialogue implied that Crucial III was in a different star system than Vultra. The two systems must be nearby if Kirk’s shuttle could be launched shortly after departing Crucial III and “drift” into the system containing Vultra. In that case, the destination of the emigrating Vultran ships might be a planet in the Crucial system.
- TOS episode: "This Side of Paradise" – Spores on Omicron Ceti III infected the Enterprise crew, triggering a ship-wide mutiny.
- TOS comic: "Ice Journey" – The inhabitants of Floe I also faced extinction by way of a planetary freeze.
- TOS comics: "The Evictors", "The Planet of No Life" – The Sanoora migrated from Nraka to New Sanoora in a fleet of Sanoora world ships.
|UK comic strips|
|Weekly story arcs||1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10 • 11 • 12 • 13 • 14 • 15 • 16 • 17 • 18 • 19 • 20 • 21 • 22 • 23 • 24 • 25 • 26 • 27 • 28 • 29 • 30 • 31 • 32 • 33 • 34 • 35 • 36 • 37|
|Annual stories||1 • 2 • Captives in Space • Planet of Rejects • Gateway to the Future • 6 • 7 • Planet of the Dead • What Is This Thing Called Spock? • The Gods Have Come! • 11|