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The Real McCoy is a Star Trek: The Original Series comic strip. It is the third story in the US Comic Strips series, published by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. The story was set after TOS movie: The Motion Picture, depicting events from Captain Kirk's second five-year mission aboard the refurbished USS Enterprise (NCC-1701).

In this story, written and drawn by Thomas Warkentin, Leonard McCoy's ex-wife conspires with her current husband, a discredited doctor who surgically alters his appearance to replace McCoy and steal his patents.


En route to Tarsus II aboard an old freighter, ill-reputed physician Anton Zauber emerged from a forming pod with his face, voice and fingerprints changed to those of Leonard McCoy, a man he said he'd hated for half his life. He and his wife Joann Zauber conspired to destroy McCoy.

Captain's Log: Stardate 7535.1.
We have taken aboard the philosopher Zantra, Special Advisor to the Zaranite High Council. We are providing his passage to the Zaran system, where he plans to argue secession from the Federation.

At their introduction, Zantra said Spock was legendary on Zaran, while Spock said Zantra's "achievements in pure logic are honored throughout the galaxy."

Meanwhile, Zauber caused a Rigellian fever outbreak at the Tarsus II fueling station, a medical emergency to lure the Enterprise. At Joann's suggestion, she was poisoned as well.

Captain's Log: Stardate 7537.2.
We have entered orbit at Tarsus II in response to an urgent distress call concerning an outbreak of Rigellian fever at the fueling and ship repair station there. Doctors McCoy and Chapel are beaming down with a medical team.

After treating the 200 people at the station, they're told about the freighter that arrived yesterday. Fearing the freighter's crew could have been the source of the plague and ought to have been treated first, McCoy and Chapel raced into the freighter and ran into Joann, whom McCoy immediately recognized. After being treated, Joann asked to speak to McCoy alone. After Chapel left to see to the station's crew, McCoy was stung with a paralysis drug. Zauber appeared and taunted McCoy, taking his clothes and wrist communicator. To get information he'd need for the impersonation, he injected McCoy with verilamine.

McCoy is abducted.

A medical droid placed McCoy in an isolator unit. When Chapel returned, Zauber (as McCoy) said he was taking two patients aboard, Joann as well as Anton Zauber, who was so photo-sensitive that opening the isolator would kill him. Zauber had brought McCoy in case he required further information.

Captain's log: stardate 7536.2.
The Rigellian fever is under control on Tarsus II, and Doctor McCoy has taken aboard two special patients. We have left orbit to resume our heading for the Zaranite system.

In a restricted room in sickbay, Zauber woke McCoy to monologue. He was Anton Zauber, always in McCoy's shadow, a fellow student in medical school who watched as the woman he loved was married and divorced by McCoy. Zauber's medical license was taken nine years ago, with McCoy as the chief witness. Now he plotted to steal the royalties from McCoy's patents.

Excerpt from Kirk's journal
Most of Bone's [sic] free time is spent with the two special patients he took aboard at Tarsus II, leaving Spock and me to play host to our distinguished passenger, the philosopher/Advisor Zantra, en route to plead the secessionist cause before the Zaranite High Council.

In the officer's lounge, Kirk and Spock chatted with Zantra. Suddenly, the Zaranite collapsed. Spock said he could only hear one of Zantra's two hearts beating. Chapel ordered a fluorine-gas room readied. Body-scan showed his "left heart slowed to a beat interval of three minutes... right heart beating normally."

Zantra collapsed.

During the trip, Kirk and Spock had noticed McCoy wasn't behaving like himself. In particular, McCoy's prognosis seemed less about caring for Zantra than the political consequences of his death. He'd told Kirk he was retiring as soon as they reached a starbase. He'd told Spock he wanted his share of their joint patents paid to his account rather than being donated to charity. Yet Pavel Chekov verified the Zaubers had valid identification. Spock researched the Zaubers, learning about Zauber's trial and that McCoy had previously been married to Joann. When Anton as McCoy said he was going to perform open heart surgery on Zantra, and Chapel questioned it, he overreacted. Chapel reviewed perscan information on McCoy, then told Kirk the data showed an abrupt change after Taurus II, suggesting he was a completely different person. Janice Rand verified transporter records showing McCoy had returned from Taurus II. Spock reasoned that if McCoy were really aboard, but not the person they'd been seeing, perhaps he was in the isolator. With a mind meld, Spock confirmed that McCoy was in the isolator, and they pulled him out and revived him with three micrograms of cordrazine.

Meanwhile, Joann had been having second thoughts about the next step in the conspiracy, killing McCoy. Encountering McCoy with Kirk and Spock, she exposed the conspiracy and confessed to still loving McCoy. Security confined her to quarters. McCoy said she and Anton both would need psychiatric help.

Learning that Zauber was about to begin a questionable medical procedure on Zantra, Kirk, Spock and McCoy raced to the operating room. Exposed, Zauber threatened Chapel's life with a laser scalpel. Behind them, Zantra awoke, sat up, and yanked Zauber's oxygen hose, causing him to collapse from fluorine gas fumes. After Chapel pulled Zauber from the surgical room and he'd been taken away, McCoy explained that a rare condition affected old Zaranites where "left and right hearts will alternate for occasional periods of rest and repair."

Later, in the officer's lounge, Zantra said the "heart-rest period is a good time to think," and he'd reconsidered secession, deciding instead that the Federation's mix of cultures required the balancing logic of the Zaranites. He asked Spock to play a game of chess with him.



Christine ChapelPavel ChekovJames T. KirkLeonard McCoyO'Grady* • Janice RandMontgomery ScottSpockTagsut* • ZantraAnton ZauberJoann Zauber
The panel showing O'Grady and Tagsut was not reprinted in the "Star Trek: The Newspaper Strips" collection.

Starships and vehicles[]

USS Enterprise (Constitution-class) • Skorpius (freighter)


Andorian system (asteroid belt) • Tarsus (Tarsus IITarsus II fueling station)
Referenced only 
Zaran system

Races and cultures[]


States and organizations[]

FederationStarfleetZaranite High Council

Science and technology[]

body-scanchemical propulsioncordrazinediasonicsfluorineforming podgasgram-negative bacillusheartholostat patternhyposprayisolator unitKirlian scanlaser scalpelmedical droidopen heart massageoxygen hoseperscanplagueradioRigellian feverRussell's ParadoxryetalynverilamineVulcan mind-touchwrist communicator

Ranks and titles[]

advisorcaptaindiplomatdoctorensignFederation Starfleet ranks (2270s)first officerphilosopherphysiciansailorscientistsection chiefspecial advisor

Other references[]

captain's logchessdiplomacydivorceEarth passportgalaxylyrettemarriagemedical patentmirrorofficer's loungeoxygensickbaystarbaseStarfleet charitiesStarfleet uniform (early 2270s)


Anton Zauber lost his medical license during a hearing attended by Leonard McCoy.
Between 2266 and 2273 
Anton Zauber and Joann Zauber married.
Anton Zauber and Joann Zauber trigger an outbreak of Rigellian fever on Tarsus II.


Related media[]


  • This story arc's title was seen in the first panel, printed on March 9, 1980.




Published Order
Previous comic:
#2: "Dilithium Dilemma"
Star Trek: The Original Series
(US Comic Strips)
Next comic:
#4: "Double Bluff"
Previous story:
"Dilithium Dilemma"
Stories by:
Thomas Warkentin
Next story:
"Double Bluff"
Chronological Order
Previous adventure:
"The Expansionist Syndrome"
Memory Beta Chronology Next adventure:
"Double Bluff"

External links[]