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.

In this story, spores infected a landing party from the USS Enterprise and incited a mutiny.

Publisher's descriptionEdit

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 BaileyBriggsHurstJames T. KirkLeonard McCoySpockHikaru SuluZellaunnamed USS Enterprise personnelunnamed Vultrans

Starships and vehiclesEdit

USS Enterprise (Constitution-class) • Space Bug 4 (space wagon) • Space Bug 7 (space wagon) • Vultran shuttleVultran spaceship


Crucial IIIVultra
Referenced only 

Races and culturesEdit


States and organizationsEdit

Federation StarfleetVultran armyVultran space fleet

Other referencesEdit

bloodstreambraincaptainChief of the Vultran Armycosmic shockwavedictatordiplomacydoctorfloodinfraredlaser-ray gunmutinyNoah's Arkplanetpoisonpollenpollen irritationprisonradiostarstarshiptape recordervoice lock

Timeline Edit

Chronology Edit

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.

Published Order
Previous comic:
"Life Form Nonexistent"
TOS comics
UK comic strips
Next comic:
"Beware the Beast"
Chronological Order
Previous adventure:
The Kobayashi Maru
Chapter 4
Memory Beta Chronology Next adventure:
"Life Form Nonexistent"

Production historyEdit

  • This story was published in two-page sections over four consecutive weeks in Joe 90: Top Secret magazine.
March 1969
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)



Related storiesEdit



UK comic strips
Weekly story arcs 12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728293031323334353637
Annual stories 12Captives in SpacePlanet of RejectsGateway to the Future67Planet of the DeadWhat Is This Thing Called Spock?The Gods Have Come!11

External linksEdit

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.