816. A Thousand Deaths
PUBLICATION: Star Trek #18, Marvel Comics, February 1982
CREATORS: J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Joe Brozowski and Sal Trapani (artists)
STARDATE: Unknown (follows the last issue)
PLOT: Kirk and Spock are kidnapped by a giant ship (26 times the size of Earth) where a giant robot called the Sustainer forces them to die in various simulations (including a pirate sea battle). Time and again, the Sustainer forces them to face death, and each time, they sacrifice their lives for the other (or for the crew). Turns out the Sustainer was created by a self-centered race who almost destroyed itself in a mad war. With the survivors in stasis, the Sustainer searched the universe for the quality of selflessness to input into their sleeping brains. Confident now that a second holocaust can be averted, Kirk and Spock are sent back to the Enterprise.
CONTINUITY: Spock thinks of Kirk as his T'hy'la or "brother" (The Motion Picture novelization by Gene Roddenberry). Hard not to think of the Sustainer's simulator and not think of TNG-era holodecks.
PANEL OF THE DAY - Some action figures just don't sell
REVIEW: It's a J.M. DeMatteis comic, all right. Intrusive, poetic narration, and an illusory story, practically metaphysical. So it's a bit tedious, but not overwhelmingly so. The Sustainer is fun to look at and the friendship between Spock and Kirk well represented. Otherwise, well, the issue has the same problem as the Gold Key stuff - the big narrative reveal at the end, bla bla bla. This is the last issue of the (first) Marvel series, not quite as bad as I was led to believe, but with numerous low points and few if any high ones. We'll next skip two years as DC Comics picks up the license, which they'll keep for quite a while. We'll see what they do with it.