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What Is This Thing Called Spock? was a seven-page Star Trek: The Original Series comic strip published in 1972. It was the ninth of 11 annual stories from the UK comic strips series and was printed in the United Kingdom along with "Planet of the Dead" in TV21 Annual 1973. In this story, Kirk and Spock encountered an unusual non-humanoid lifeform.

Publisher's description[]

Omnibus teaser
When a series of catastrophes befall the colony world Taragon, Kirk is sent to investigate the resulting rioting and chaos, which Spock realizes is due to alien telepathic influence.


Simultaneous disasters seemed to plague Taragon, everything from volcanic eruptions to mining disasters to frightened rioting by the Human colonists. Frantic distress calls by the governor were received by the USS Enterprise. Beaming down, he told Kirk and Spock that colonists seemed to be taken over and driven insane by some unknown force. Although no evidence of telepathic life was reported on Taragon, they searched for clues outside of the colony. They separated and agreed to meet back in an hour.

Thirty minutes later, Spock heard something large in the brush and was suddenly enveloped by a living, brain-like mass of tissue. Kirk heard a warning over his communicator, and ran to help. He arrived to find a quiet Spock, who suddenly turned and fired a phaser at him. Kirk leapt for cover, but discovered four other armed Spocks hunting him. He realized they all had terrible aim and could only track him by sound. Whatever had duplicated Spock hadn't yet mastered the complexities of the humanoid form.

Kirk beamed back to the ship to discover Spock in the ship's library. Spock reassured him he was the original — his duplicates couldn't see or read. Spock deduced that when panicked colonists reacted violently to the recent catastrophes, this previously unknown native lifeform learned that people were hostile. Spock had been similarly guilty of teaching that lesson, having drawn his phaser when initially approached. Its innate ability to duplicate matter was how it learned about its environment. This was why the duplicate Spocks were hostile. The lifeform also had created hostile duplicates of some colonists, which led to the hysteria and rioting.

Kirk and Spock returned to the surface. This time when the lifeform appeared, Spock sat peacefully and wrote on a PADD. Through Spock's writing, it learned Human language and could now communicate with them telepathically. It was an enormous, complex, intelligent organism which lived underground. After a meeting with the governor, a partnership was formed whereby colonists protected the lifeform in exchange for helping duplicate buildings and equipment.



James T. KirkMontgomery ScottSpockTaragon lifeformNyota Uhuraunnamed colonists
Referenced only 
Leonard McCoy

Starships and vehicles[]

USS Enterprise (Constitution-class heavy cruiser) • groundcarrocket


Referenced only 

Races and cultures[]


Science and technology[]

brain patterncommunicatorcomputer tapedistress callmicrophonePADDradiophasertranquilizertransporter

Ranks and titles[]


Other references[]

alienbeambraincaverncellcreaturegashourlanguagelifeformmico-librarymineralminingmolecular structureplanetpressuresecondsoundstarshipstylustelepathytreeuniversevolcanowritten languageyear



Published Order
Previous comic:
Planet of the Dead
TOS comics
UK comic strips Annuals
Next comic:
The Gods Have Come!

Production history[]

24 August 1972 
Published in TV21 Annual 1973
September 2017 
Reprinted in the omnibus The Classic UK Comics, Volume 3 (IDW Publishing)



Related stories[]



UK comic strips
Weekly story arcs "Life Form Nonexistent" • "The Crucial Element" • "Beware the Beast" • "The Third Party" • "The Children of Stai" • "Skin Deep" • "The Eagles Have Landed" • "Spectre of the Zond" • "Nor Any Drop to Drink" • "Menace of the Moloth" • "The Klingon Ultimatum" • "The Marshall Plan" • "Mutiny on the Dorado" • "The Ageless One" • "Thorpex" • "Under the Sea" • "Revolt on Dak-Alpha" • "Where Giants Tread" • "I, Emperor" • "Slaves of the Frogmen" • "Key Witness" • "Nova-Thirteen" • "Prison Break" • "Vibrations in Time" • "The Aging World" • "By Order of the Empire" • "Creeping Death" • "Ground Zero" • "The Collector" • "To Swiftly Go..." • "The Mindless Ones" • "The Perithees Alliance" • "The Saboteur Within" • "The Void of Storms" • "Spheres of War" • "Shell Game" • "To Rule the Universe"
Annual stories "Target: Zargot" • "A Bite of the Apple" • "Captives in Space" • "Planet of Rejects" • "Gateway to the Future" • "The Zodian Sacrifice" • "Smoke and Mirrors" • "Planet of the Dead" • "What Is This Thing Called Spock?" • "The Gods Have Come!" • "Rock and a Hard Place"

External links[]