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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 encounter an unusual non-humanoid lifeform.


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 seem to plague Taragon, everything from volcanic eruptions to mining disasters to frightened rioting by the Human colonists. Frantic distress calls by the governor are received by the USS Enterprise. Beaming down, he tells Kirk and Spock that colonists seem to be taken over and driven insane by some unknown force. Although no evidence of telepathic life is reported on Taragon, they search for clues outside of the colony. They separate and agree to meet back in an hour.

Thirty minutes later, Spock hears something large in the brush and is suddenly enveloped by a living, brain-like mass of tissue. Kirk hears a warning over his communicator, and runs to help. He arrives to find a quiet Spock, who suddenly turns and fires a phaser at him. Kirk leaps for cover, but discovers four other armed Spocks hunting him. He realizes they all have terrible aim and can only track him by sound. Whatever has duplicated Spock hasn't yet mastered the complexities of the humanoid form.

Kirk beams back to the ship to discover Spock in the ship's library. Spock reassures him he is the original — his duplicates can't see or read. Spock deduces that when panicked colonists reacted violently to the recent catastrophes, this previously unknown native lifeform learned that people were hostile. Spock has 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 return to the surface. This time when the lifeform appears, Spock sits peacefully and writes on a PADD. Through Spock's writing, it learns Human language and can now communicate with them telepathically. It is an enormous, complex, intelligent organism which lives underground. After a meeting with the governor, a partnership is formed whereby colonists protect 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


Related media




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"


Published Order
Previous comic:
Planet of the Dead
TOS comics (UK comic strips Annuals) Next comic:
The Gods Have Come!
Previous story:
Planet of the Dead
Stories by:
Jack Sutter
Next story:
latest story
Chronological Order
Previous adventure:
Planet of the Dead
Memory Beta Chronology Next adventure:
The Gods Have Come!
Previous comic:
Planet of the Dead
Voyages of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), Year Two 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)
16 July 2020
Reprinted in the omnibus Graphic Novel Collection, Volume 121. (Eaglemoss Collections)

External links