813. There's No Space Like Gnomes'!
PUBLICATION: Star Trek #16, Marvel Comics, October 1981
CREATORS: Martin Pasko (writer), Luke McDonnell, Gene Day, and Sal Trapani (artists)
STARDATE: 8431.5 (follows the last issue)
PLOT: The Enterprise visits the colony of Valerian and finds it missing. Instead, subhuman trolls are on the prowl and they abduct Chekov's Andorian girlfriend. While McCoy studies a fallen troll, the landing party meets a band of tiny gnomes who tell them of their troubles. But these prove to be untrustworthy when in the goblin forms, they attack the ship bestriding large bats. After Chekov's gf is rescued and few revelations are... uhm... revealed, we discover that the band of gnomes are really just two gnomes using their matter-manipulating caps to turn the colonists into trolls, their inhospitable world into a wooden glen, and trees into weapons. Kirk defeats them with a stolen cap that also allows him to work their magic, the colonists are cured, and everyone leaves Valerian forever.
DIVERGENCES: None, except from good sense.
PANEL OF THE DAY - Get the caps! (Wins Most Ridiculous Objective Award.)
REVIEW: As terrible as it sounds. I'm okay with the Star Trek episodes that present Earth's mythologies as super-powerful aliens who once came to Earth to affect its development, but garden gnomes who hide their technology in their caps? The premise is stupid, and the villains' motivations absurd (why make their world look hospitable if they don't want colonists to come?). Never mind the terrible pun in the title (or the one in the "final joke"). The story isn't helped by the art either, with Luke McDonnell quite far from his better days on pencils. His perspectives are awkward, his likenesses ugly, and his Enterprise at times completely off-model.
If there's a redeeming element, it might have been found in Chekov's relationship with an Andorian, but that comes out of nowhere, and I'm ready to bet, goes right back to nowhere.