STAR TREK: The Final Mission

Greetings, Visionary Trekkers…

Every once-in-a-while, I like to throw this device against the wall and dig-out some of the ‘old’ stuff. I’m becoming too-dependent on this ‘at-your-fingertips’ technology; I can’t even-remember the last-time I visited The Dragon’s Keep (my favorite comic-book store). Of course, part of that has to do with finances and my work-schedule, but, I miss going-over and hanging-out with Drew and Andy and, the rest of the staff, checking-out the new-comics and the fantastic artwork lining those shelves… Now, though, it’s too-easy to be lazy; you just press a few-buttons on the screen and, wallah: a freshly-printed eComic is available, in the blink-of-an-eye. (No gas is needed for the 30-min. drive, and there’s no line to wait on, either.) The only-drawback is, I don’t have ‘fresh’-wallpaper for my den; at one-time, I had over 300 comics on the walls! It looked fantastic! In this new-place, I have been lazy, as there are only, about-25 titles decorating my inner-sanctum.

I have always-loved comic-books! I believe the first-comics I ever received, were The Incredible Hulk in 1976; a two-part story, (which, I still have). Yes, Marvel was my first-glimpse, but, I quickly jumped-over to DC; I mean, we’re talkin’-’bout my heroes, over there: Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern… We were a lower middle-class family, so getting a comic-book was a real treat, for me, (I believe, it’s still the same, at age-48). I treasure every-single-one of them. We’ve been through a lot, together.

It’s nice to know (which, has only-recently been revealed to lil’-ol’ Podunk-me, when, I attended the record-setting/breaking, inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con 2013) that, the magic is still-twinkling in the young eyes of our kids (and, those of the adults, too). True, the art might be taking-on a new digital-look, but we’re even-more goggle-eyed for this genre, then we’ve ever been, before. My FB and Twitter pages are filled with geeks, old-and, young-alike, who can’t get enough.

As with all things in my life (it seems), my love for books AND comics led me to STAR TREK, as DC and Marvel, (plus-others), have brought me full-circle. In the late-80’s, I was doing the beach, or-canoeing the rivers, partying and, wasting braincells on the bar-hopping thing, so, I wasn’t paying attention to comics. That changed, when I received my first-two STAR TREK paperbacks and happened-on my first-visit to The Dragon’s Keep’s old-location. That’s where I met my first-STAR TREK comics… I’ve never looked-back; I’ve been-buying everything I can lay my hands on, ever-since! Yes, comics have taken-on a whole-new look; the pages aren’t ‘paper’, anymore, the colors are, now, phenomenally-applied, the artwork and likenesses are brilliant (in most-cases, at any rate) and the stories are written by truly-remarkable, incredibly-gifted people, but, Wow…these old-comics are ‘classics’, paying-homage to a bygone age…

Take the 1986 STAR TREK Annual, by DC. The cover is totally awesome! You’ve got Captain Kirk saluting the U.S.S. Enterprise (home, from its 5-yr. mission), while, a line of officers and crewman disembarks from their home, of so-many years, carrying their meager personal possessions in their duffel bags. There’s not a happy face in the bunch; this time, their futures are uncertain, their destinies are unknown, as they spread out to the four-winds of the galaxy. You just-know, this is going to be a bittersweet tale, by that somber cover-art, alone.

It begins with the U.S.S. Kobayashi Maru II getting a Priority-1 distress-call and subsequently-engaging a Klingon cruiser…

Aboard Enterprise, Captain Kirk relays happy-news to the crew; they’re going home. First, though, a stop at Starbase 10, to pick up a passenger: Commander Will Decker, who’s been tasked with the ship’s refit. (We see our first-look at the new Starfleet uniforms, here, as seen in TMP.) Cmdr. Decker is cast as bitter, angry; a man who, only-follows his orders and goes where he’s told; which, puts Kirk (and the crew), at-odds with his brusk, ‘chip-on-his-shoulder’ behavior.

Still, Kirk tries to follow Dr. McCoy’s advice, by allowing Decker to come to terms with his ‘crazy’ father’s transgressions. He introduces Will to the crew and tries to make him feel welcome. (I like the fact, that Uhura voices her opinion about having to wear that iconic mini-skirt all those years; putting Scotty in his place, when he balks at the new uniforms looking-like pajamas.) Meanwhile, Mr. Scott is performing an initiation ritual on the Enterprise’s space-trekking ‘rookies’; but, something goes wrong with the holographic-program that Chekov is participating in, along-with Capt. Kirk. Indeed, Scotty informs Kirk that no-such programming exists. So, Kirk is on his way to the bridge (with Decker), where, Spock is investigating the malfunction. In the turbo-lift, they are thrown-about, as the ship is suddenly attacked; they’re surrounded(!!) by Klingons! Plus-the Enterprise is no-longer anywhere-near Earth, but it’s orbiting Talos IV, instead; the only planet that garners a death-sentence, (in Federation law books), if visited.

Never-the-less, Spock deduces that it’s the Talosians, who’ve brought about their current woes. But, Kirk is hailed by Koloth, who is demanding Kirk’s surrender. He requests Kirk’s presence on the planet, and-so, (against Will’s angst), he, Spock, McCoy and Decker beam down and are immediately taken prisoner. Spock insists on knowing the whereabouts and conditions of Capt. Pike and Vina, but Koloth is only too-happy to provide the decorated science-officer with the answers he seeks. Below-the-surface, the Klingons are torturing Pike, holding him captive in one of the Talosian’s cages. The landing-party tries to attack and overthrow their captors; however, Kirk and the crew begin to experience the Talosian’s powerful illusions, (or-so it seems); maybe Kirk’s suspicions are correct: the Klingons have harnessed the Talosian’s deadly mind-powers for their own devices and gain.

Kirk awakens, from unconsciousness, to find Vina and, his crew, imprisoned in the glass cage. She recounts how the Klingons learned of Talos and how they came to be there, overpowering the Talosians. Koloth arrives, confirming, that they now-possess the Talosian’s mind-powers and, at-present, they are using them to take care of the Enterprise’s crew, in an effort to take the ship; (whereupon-they will use it to attack Earth, with the advantage of surprise). Koloth’s men use more-illusions on Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Decker, as well, engulfing their minds with horrors, that they can only see. But, Kirk is experiencing the loss of Edith Keeler, again and, it makes him angry, thereby, breaking the hold the Klingons have on his mind; (the strong emotions he’s feeling, overcome the illusions.) Kirk (and the rest of the team) fight-off their captors and use Will Decker’s ‘new-tech’ wrist-communicator to escape, beaming-up to the ship. They find the crew besieged by their own demons and set-about breaking the Klingon’s hold on them, as well; (using the ship, to stimulate the endocrine systems of the crew, to produce adrenaline). It works, of course.

With the illusion-altering powers gone, (and-the Klingons, being unaware of his escape), Kirk uses his advantage, (Koloth’s overconfidence), to bring an end to the situation. Spock and Decker are working-together, on Talos, to find the captive Talosians, too; they revive them, as the Enterprise disables Koloth’s ships. Captain Kirk is heartened to learn that order has been restored on Talos IV and that Captain Pike and Vina suffered no-lasting effects from their Klingon captor’s torture, plus-the Klingons are being detained under the Talosian’s powers, until their minds can be purged of any knowledge they have, of the banned-world’s existence.

So…we’re approaching Earth and the crew is anxious to start their new paths. Commander Decker informs Kirk that he’s resigning his commission, but, Captain Kirk changes the young officer’s mind. He believes Decker should stay, despite the haunting memories and humiliation he’s feeling, by Commodore Matt Decker’s actions; that Will Decker isn’t responsible for his father’s folly and that Starfleet would be at a loss, without Will’s individuality. Fortunately, the much-relieved, seemingly-relaxed Decker, agrees.

The ship is home… Kirk, Spock and McCoy meet for a final-toast; they discuss their futures, too: Kirk is being promoted to admiral, Spock is going to Vulcan, to pursue the Kolinahr ritual and McCoy is leaving Starfleet, as well. Kirk is pondering whether he will ever captain the Enterprise, again, or…

…if a new-beginning is in-the-cards, for him.

I loved this particular story! It’s filled with the things that made STAR TREK great: morality, humor, good-besting-evil, facing your demons and finding your strengths. It has Spock and McCoy trading barbs, being Kirk’s compass and sounding-board, there’s Chekov, embracing his loyalty to Russian greatness, (that we grew to love on the show); even-McCoy, using a “I’m a doctor, not a…” line. Plus, it gives us insight, into the preceding events leading-up to V’Ger and how Decker came onto the scene. (Even-Scotty, sporting his new mustache.) It brought the show full-circle, as well; ending the Enterprise’s mission, where it all began, under Captain Christopher Pike: Talos IV. In my opinion, the Talosians need to be revisited. That, I believe, would make for one-helluva movie, eh?

But, yeah…these old-comics are great fun. This story was written by Mike W. Barr, pencilled by Dan Jurgens, inked by Bob Smith, lettered by Agustin Mas and colored by Michele Wolfman; their finished-product, here, cannot be lauded-enough. Let us, also-acknowledge Robert Greenberger, who was DC’s STAR TREK editor, during this period of the comic’s transition-stage and he did yeoman work, bringing us some of the best talents on the planet, in his efforts to take us all…

…out there.

Which, is where I’ll see all of you, until, next-time.

Lt. Eric Cone

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