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.
- 1 Publisher's description
- 2 Summary
- 3 References
- 4 Timeline
- 5 Appendices
- 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. Kirk • Montgomery Scott • Spock • Taragon lifeform • Nyota Uhura • unnamed colonists
- Referenced only
- Leonard McCoy
Starships and vehicles
Races and cultures
Science and technology
- brain pattern • communicator • computer tape • distress call • microphone • PADD • radio • phaser • tranquilizer • transporter
Ranks and titles
- alien • beam • brain • cavern • cell • creature • gas • hour • language • lifeform • mico-library • mineral • mining • molecular structure • planet • pressure • second • sound • starship • stylus • telepathy • tree • universe • volcano • written language • year
Planet of the Dead
UK comic strips Annuals
The Gods Have Come!
- 24 August 1972
- Published in TV21 Annual 1973
- September 2017
- Reprinted in the omnibus The Classic UK Comics, Volume 3 (IDW Publishing)
- This comic strip story had several parallels to TOS episode & Star Trek 4 novelization: The Devil in the Dark, including industrial and ecological sabotage resulting from miners inadvertently intruding on an alien lifeform, Kirk and Spock splitting up during their search, and the formation of a partnership.
- The Taragon lifeform was similar to the Tactisian encountered in TOS comic: "The Mimicking Menace". However, while the Taragon entity could easily duplicate Spock, the Tactisian found Vulcan physiology harder to copy than shuttlecraft or Humans. It was also sentient and peaceful, whereas the Tactisian behaved only through predatory instinct.
- Artist Jim Baikie signed the last panel of the story.
- Publication date was 24 August 1972. (Amazon.com.)
- Jack Sutter was credited as author. (Star Trek in Books and Magazines article at the Star Trek Comics Checklist).
- Nyota Uhura was seen on the bridge in two panels but did not have any dialogue.
- TOS episode & Star Trek 4 novelization: The Devil in the Dark – In 2267, the Enterprise aided threatened miners on Janus VI.
- TOS novel: Spock Must Die! – The transporter duplicated Spock.
- TOS comic: "The Brain-Damaged Planet" – A huge brain mass within a planetoid became infected with a disease, which impelled spurts of insanity upon the native humanoid population.