Star Trek 727. The Planet of No Return

So I'm gonna try my hand at continuing the daily Trek reviews with other Star Trek media, at least for now, at a rate of 6 comics and one novel a week (the latter on Sundays). As previously mentioned, comics are going to run chronologically, while novels will jump around from series to series, era to era. Obviously, printed stories can't be reviewed in the same way as television episodes, so I propose a new format:

PUBLICATION will tell you where to find the story and when it was published.
CREATORS will detail the writers and artists that crafted the story.
STARDATE won't just give the number (which is often nonsense in the TOS era and early TNG), but also attempt to tell you where the story goes in the episode/film timeline.
PLOT offers the details of the story, since not everyone can expect to be familiar with these.
CONTINUITY proposes to discuss links to canonical and non-canonical stories alike. What recurring characters were used? What plot holes from the show were addressed?
DIVERGENCES is the flip-side of that. Was the story later contradicted by canon material? Or was it already off-base about something?
PANEL OF THE DAY probably won't be the only panel I show (see below), but it's the promise of at least one funky, funny or relevant picture from the comic. Novels don't have panels, but check back on Sunday for what I come up with instead.
REVIEW is my final word on the story and the reason we're here.

Ready? Let's jump into it.

727. The Planet of No Return

PUBLICATION: Star Trek #1, Gold Key Comics, July/October 1967 (reprinted and recolored in #29)

CREATORS: Unknown (writer), Nevio Zeccara (artist)

STARDATE: 18:09.2 - Between Where No Man Has Gone Before and The Corbomite Maneuver.

PLOT: The USS Enterprise visits planet K-2, Kelly Green, where plant life has built a civilization that can use spores to transform people and animals into plants. When Yeoman Rand is corraled and herded towards slaughter with other animal life-forms, Spock risks pinpointing the ship's phasers on the exact location of the cannibal plant. Though he succeeds, the crew feels it's necessary to destroy the planet's entire ecosystem before it infects other worlds with its interstellar spores. Genocide! And all is well with the universe again.

CONTINUITY: Janice Rand's only appearance in the Gold Key run (poor Janice). There's also a panel that seems to have Vasquez Rocks in the background, which is just an incredible coincidence given the familiarity shown with the material elsewhere.
DIVERGENCES: As this was the first Star Trek comic ever, and published before the end of the series' run, there are a lot of inconsistencies in terminology (tv scanner, tv radio, laser weapons, teleportation) as well as rocket exhaust coming from the ship's engineering section, really strange sets, and coloring mistakes (especially the uniforms, fixed in the reprint... except that now Janice is a redhead). The ending is as un-Trek as they come, even for Kirk.
REVIEW: Gold Key's patchy run, publishing 62 comics (some of them reprints) from 1967 to 1979, has more in common with the animated series than the live action original. The focus is on plot and alien vistas rather than the characters, and the science is often madder than on the show, sometimes crossing the line into magic. That doesn't mean they can't be a perfectly enjoyable read. Artist Nevio Zeccara, though obviously not familiar with the series, still gives The Planet of No Return a nice look. The likenesses are recognizable without being slaved from photo reference, and the plant monsters are varied and cool to look at. The script does well while the exploration of the planet (tumbleweed sheep dogs, treants to the rescue, etc.), even if none of the characters have their own "voices", and while Janice does play the damsel in distress, there's also a panel of her holding her own, which is more than she really got to do on tv. It's the ending that shows a real lack of understanding. Other space opera heroes might scorch a planet clean, but not the Enterprise! (At least, not one that wasn't run by a computer.)


De said...

Was there supposed to be more to the Divergences section or was the sentence supposed to lead into the panel?

I'm trying to think of another time where a planet's eco-system was deliberately destroyed in Star Trek to keep a planetary threat in check. The only example I can think of was Sisko's attack of a Maquis colony in "For the Uniform" but that's not quite the same.

Anonymous said...

Even though I have never enjoyed a Star Trek comic, I actually enjoyed reading about this one. I believe we Trekkies still have reason to read this blog.

Jeff R. said...

Well, there were several attempts on various Founder homeworlds, all of which didn't seem to have any ecosystem to speak of apart from the Changelings that were the target of the exercises. Although Sisko was usually observer rather than instigator, there.

Michael May said...

Yay! I'm really going to enjoy this series.

And congratulations of successfully finishing the other one. What an undertaking!

Anonymous said...

WOWIO has a bunch of the Gold Key Star Treks (or at least did, I know I downloaded one issue when downloading was still free). You can read them for free, but you have to pay to download them.

That issue alone told me why some Trekkies are not fans of the Gold Key run.

Siskoid said...

Sorry De... fixed!

Glad even the comics (and soon, novels) can inspire discussion!


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