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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 emerges from a forming pod with his face, voice and fingerprints changed to those of Leonard McCoy, a man he says he's hated for half his life. He and his wife Joann Zauber conspire 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 says Spock is legendary on Zaran, while Spock says Zantra's "achievements in pure logic are honored throughout the galaxy."

Meanwhile, Zauber causes a Rigellian fever outbreak at the Tarsus II fueling station, a medical emergency to lure the Enterprise. At Joann's suggestion, she is 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 race into the freighter and run into Joann, whom McCoy immediately recognizes. After being treated, Joann asks to speak to McCoy alone. After Chapel leaves to see to the station's crew, McCoy is stung with a paralysis drug. Zauber appears and taunts McCoy, taking his clothes and wrist communicator. To get information he'll need for the impersonation, he injects McCoy with verilamine.

McCoy is abducted.

A medical droid places McCoy in an isolator unit. When Chapel returns, Zauber (as McCoy) says he's taking two patients aboard, Joann as well as Anton Zauber, who is so photo-sensitive that opening the isolator will kill him. Zauber brings McCoy in case he requires 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 wakes McCoy to monologue. He is 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 plots 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 chat with Zantra. Suddenly, the Zaranite collapses. Spock says he can only hear one of Zantra's two hearts beating. Chapel orders a fluorine-gas room readied. Body-scan shows his "left heart slowed to a beat interval of three minutes... right heart beating normally."

Zantra collapsed.

During the trip, Kirk and Spock notice McCoy isn't behaving like himself. In particular, McCoy's prognosis seems less about caring for Zantra than the political consequences of his death. He's told Kirk he is retiring as soon as they reach a starbase. He's told Spock he wants his share of their joint patents paid to his account rather than being donated to charity. Yet Pavel Chekov verifies the Zaubers have valid identification. Spock researches the Zaubers, learning about Zauber's trial and that McCoy had previously been married to Joann. When Anton as McCoy says he is going to perform open heart surgery on Zantra, and Chapel questions it, he overreacts. Chapel reviews perscan information on McCoy, then tells Kirk the data shows an abrupt change after Taurus II, suggesting he is a completely different person. Janice Rand verifies transporter records showing McCoy had returned from Taurus II. Spock reasons that if McCoy were really aboard, but not the person they'd been seeing, perhaps he is in the isolator. With a mind meld, Spock confirms that McCoy is in the isolator, and they pull him out and revive him with three micrograms of cordrazine.

Meanwhile, Joann has been having second thoughts about the next step in the conspiracy, killing McCoy. Encountering McCoy with Kirk and Spock, she exposes the conspiracy and confesses to still loving McCoy. Security confines her to quarters. McCoy says she and Anton both will need psychiatric help.

Learning that Zauber is about to begin a questionable medical procedure on Zantra, Kirk, Spock and McCoy race to the operating room. Exposed, Zauber threatens Chapel's life with a laser scalpel. Behind them, Zantra awakes, sits up, and yanks Zauber's oxygen hose, causing him to collapse from fluorine gas fumes. After Chapel pulls Zauber from the surgical room and he's taken away, McCoy explains that a rare condition affects old Zaranites where "left and right hearts will alternate for occasional periods of rest and repair."

Later, in the officer's lounge, Zantra says the "heart-rest period is a good time to think," and he's reconsidered secession, deciding instead that the Federation's mix of cultures requires the balancing logic of the Zaranites. He asks 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





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