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.
- 1 Publisher's description
- 2 Summary
- 3 References
- 4 Timeline
- 5 Appendices
- 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 explores the surface of Crucial III, an analysis by Spock confirms that the planet will explode imminently. The party hastily returns to the USS Enterprise in their space wagon, and the starship leaves orbit just in time to avoid shock waves from the explosion. But in the ship's workshops, the seven crewmembers of the space wagon fume with frustration, and Hurst leads the group to confront James T. Kirk. Kirk and Leonard McCoy try listening to their complaints, but McCoy realizes that the men have all been contaminated by poisonous pollen and driven almost to the point of insanity. Kirk and McCoy are dragged into Bay 4 and shoved into Space Bug 7 along with two other crewmen. Mutineers wreck the space wagon's communications system and set the ship adrift. Unable to stop them on the bridge, Spock seals off control areas to protect the rest of the ship.
Kirk makes a rough landing on nearby planet Vultra. A Vultran shuttle quickly approaches, and the Starfleet officers are met by Zella, chief of the planet's army. He says their sun is growing dim and their planet will soon die a frigid death. Zella demands Kirk's ship to escape, but Kirk hastily secures the wagon with a voiceprint. Angrily, Zella locks Kirk's team in a prison cell to be beaten by savage Valtarii. Zella again appeals to Kirk, taking the Starfleet team on a tour of Vultra, with a Vultran scientist mentioning that they only have interplanetary ships and are unable to leave their star system. Zella secretly records the conversation, and when Kirk inadvertently speaks the voice override command, the jig is up. Zella and the scientist abandon Kirk and take off in his space wagon. Kirk asks to see the interplanetary Vultran spaceships, and is inspired to a solution: engine modifications and a merging of two ships will result in a viable interstellar vessel.
Hurst and his men detect Space Bug 7 approaching, assume Kirk is returning, and blow it up. From the bridge, Spock sees the explosion and is driven nearly to a rage to stop Hurst's men. However, Spock's assault is repelled. He devises a counter-agent to the spores and sprays it into the air. Hurst's head clears almost immediately, and he takes a team to Vultra in Space Bug 4 to rescue the captain.
Kirk later says the mutineers will not be punished because they were not in control of themselves. At least two dozen Vultran ships are launched 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 • Valtarii tribesmen • unnamed Vultrans
Starships and vehicles
- USS Enterprise (Constitution-class) • Space Bug 4 (space wagon) • Space Bug 7 (space wagon) • Vultran shuttle • Vultran spaceship
- Referenced only
Races and cultures
States and organizations
- Federation Starfleet • Vultran army • Vultran space fleet
- 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.