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A ghostly presence... haunts the Enterprise! – "The Empire Man" was the 60th issue of Gold Key Comics' 1970s series of Star Trek comics. The issue was written by John Warner and drawn by Alden McWilliams.


The universe is eternal and, in that eternity, are many veiled mysteries! Whole civilizations are but momentary thoughts in the galactic continuity! But what if the universe were to lose its memory?


Captain's log, stardate 2314.6...
While cruising in Quadrant IV, we received a priority distress call from Terrellian II!

The USS Enterprise diverts to Terrellian II. The Terralyns find themselves under attack by an unknown marauder craft. Upon meeting with Minister Scorvik, Kirk and McCoy learn — and see — each attack is proceeded by the appearance of etheric woman the Terralyns call "The Ghost". The Ghost may be trying to warn the Terralyns, but she is mute.

Aboard the Enterprise, Spock makes contact with the marauder's pilot, who calls himself Zar-Tan. He warns the Enterprise that the planet is his, and he will destroy the Terralyns and the ship if they interfere. Spock attempts to incapacitate the marauder with tractor beams, but Zar-Tan resists so much, he crashes on the planet.

Captain's log, supplemental...
Using the ship's sensors, we maintained a track on Zar-Tan's ship when it crashed! An additional security team joined us at the crash site!

Kirk, McCoy and a security team find Zar-Tan, and after a brief struggle, capture him. The Ghost witnesses this, and inexplicably unleashes a seismic attack on the planet, injuring the Terralyn chancellor. Showing remorse and compassion, the Ghost touches the chancellor, healing him.

Captain's log: stardate 2315.6 —
We have arrested the strange raider who terrorized Terrellian II... Doctor McCoy now has him under observation.

Examining Zar-Tan in the Enterprise sickbay, McCoy finds there is no way to remove the attacker's body armor. Spock discovers the entire planet is surrounded by a ring of energy. When a security team beams down, the Ghost is able to follow the transporter signal back to the Enterprise. Meanwhile, McCoy goes to Zar-Tan's security cell, only to be taken hostage by him. Zar-Tan takes his prisoner to the bridge, where Spock's analysis of the planet's energy ring reveals a resemblance to brain wave patterns. Zar-Tan attempts to lock the ship's phasers onto the planet, but recoils in fear when the Ghost steps onto the Bridge. The entity merges with Spock to use his Vulcan mental powers to unlock Zar-Tan's buried memories of the planet.

Spock/Ghost explains this world, once known as Thelema, was on the brink of destruction by a radiation cloud. The Thelemites discover the radiation won't harm plant life, and the entire civilization's mental patterns are recorded into the native flora. A cell from each citizen was used to make an artificial carrier body — Zar-Tan — to preserve the Thelemites' organic structure. Zar-Tan was sent off into space, programmed to return when the radiation was no longer a threat. The Thelemites soon learn, however, that radiation has mutated the plants. Their plant forms could no longer communicate, either with Zar-Tan or the Terralyns. The most they could manage was to generate the image of the Ghost.

The truth revealed, Spock/Ghost deactivates Zar-Tan and informs the Terralyns how to restore their new neighbors. The Thelemites agree to share their technology to convert people into plants, which Spock observes may be an improvement for humans.



Pavel ChekovThe GhostJames T. KirkManningLeonard McCoyScorvikMontgomery ScottSpockHikaru SuluNyota UhuraZar-Tanunnamed Terralynsunnamed Thelemitesunnamed USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) personnel

Starships and vehicles

USS Enterprise (Constitution-class heavy cruiser) • Zar-Tan's marauder (C class star cruiser)


the galaxyQuadrant IVTerrellian IITerrellian system

Races and cultures


States and organizations


Science and classification

biobedbody armorcircuitrycommand chaircommunicatorcyborgforce fieldgenetic engineeringimpulse enginephaserproberocketsciencesedativesensortechnologytele-syringetractor beamtransportertricorderturboliftviewscreenwarp driveweapon

Ranks and titles

captainchancellorchief engineerchief medical officercommandercommanding officercommunications officerengineerexecutive officerhelmsmanlieutenantlieutenant commanderminerministernavigatorscience officerscientisttactical officerweapons officer

Other references

alert status (red alert) • alienanimalassignment patchbrainbridgecaptain's logcellcitycivilizationdaydilithiumdistress callenergyFederation Starfleet ranksFederation Starfleet ranks (2266-2270)gasgovernmenthumanoidinsigniakaratelanding partylog entrymatterminutemonthnation-stateomni-orbitalpeaceplanetplantraces and culturesradiationrankrank insigniarocksciencesecuritysecurity cellseismoquakesickbayspacespeciesstarstardateStarfleet uniformStarfleet uniform (2265-2270)starshipsystemtechnologytimetitletransporter roomtreeuniform


Related media




Gold Key Comics stories and publications
Issues "The Planet of No Return" • "The Devil's Isle of Space" • "Invasion of the City Builders" • "The Peril of Planet Quick Change" • "The Ghost Planet" • "When Planets Collide" • "The Voodoo Planet" • "The Youth Trap" • "The Legacy of Lazarus" • "Sceptre of the Sun" • "The Brain Shockers" • "The Flight of the Buccaneer" • "Dark Traveler" • "The Enterprise Mutiny" • "Museum at the End of Time" • "Day of the Inquisitors" • "The Cosmic Cavemen" • "The Hijacked Planet" • "The Haunted Asteroid" • "A World Gone Mad" • "The Mummies of Heitius VII" • "Siege in Superspace" • "Child's Play" • "The Trial of Captain Kirk" • "Dwarf Planet" • "The Perfect Dream" • "Ice Journey" • "The Mimicking Menace" • "Death of a Star" • "The Final Truth" • "The Animal People" • "The Choice" • "The PsychoCrystals" • "A Bomb in Time" • "One of Our Captains Is Missing!" • "Prophet of Peace" • "Furlough to Fury" • "The Evictors" • "World Against Time" • "The World Beneath the Waves" • "Prince Traitor" • "Mr. Oracle" • "This Tree Bears Bitter Fruit" • "Murder on the Enterprise" • "A Warp in Space" • "Planet of No Life" • "Destination... Annihilation!" • "And a Child Shall Lead Them" • "What Fools These Mortals Be.." • “Sport of Knaves” • "A World Against Itself" • "No Time Like the Past" • "Spore of the Devil" • "The Brain-Damaged Planet" • "To Err Is Vulcan" • "The Empire Man!" • "Operation Con Game"
Additional stories "James T. Kirk: Psycho-File" • "A Page From Scotty's Diary" • "Spock: Psycho-File" • "From Sputnik to Warp Drive"
Collections Star Trek Annuals (1969197019721973197419751976197719781979198019831986) • The Enterprise Logs (Volumes 1234) • The Key Collection (Volumes 12345) • Gold Key Archives (Volumes 12345) • Gold Key 100-Page Spectacular
Related media "Voyage of Discovery" • "The Exile" • "The Red Hour" • "The Tunnel of Death" • "... Wild Goose Chase!" • "A Hint of Life" • "Space Chase" • "Escape from the Clinging Dags" • "Eye of the Beholder" • "The Menace of the Mechanitrons" • "Trial by Fire!"


Published Order
Previous story:
#59: To Err Is Vulcan
TOS comics (Gold Key) Next story:
#61: Operation Con Game
Previous story:
The Final Truth
Stories by:
John Warner
Next story:
Trial by Fire!
Chronological Order
Previous adventure:
When Planets Collide
Memory Beta Chronology Next adventure:
Mr. Oracle
Previous comic:
When Planets Collide
Voyages of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), Year Two Next comic:
Mr. Oracle
Production history
February 1979
First published by Gold Key Comics.
September 2008
Included on The Complete Comic Book Collection DVD. (Graphic Imaging Technologies)
9 May 2019
Reprinted in Graphic Novel Collection #62. (Eaglemoss Collections)

External links