Star Trek 868: Devil Down Below!

868. Devil Down Below!

PUBLICATION: Star Trek #45, DC Comics, December 1987

CREATORS: Michael Carlin (writer), Tom Sutton and Ricardo Villagran (artists)

STARDATE: 8960.2 (follows the last issue)

PLOT: Spock has been wired directly into Vaal and as his consciousness merges with that of the ancient computer, he learns that the colony was established by Sargon's people before their great nuclear war, and that Vaal turned them into immortal innocents to prevent such a holocaust. But without Vaal, it seems they're headed back there. Cue regrets from Kirk. Spock uses Vaal's considerable power to keep both the landing party and the ship at bay, but starts to falter when Makora's people attack the cave. In the end, Akuta commits suicide by merging with Vaal and the planet starts to blossom again. Makora is made the new feeder of Vaal and the population returns to its innocence.

CONTINUITY: Part 3 of the sequel to The Apple. It is revealed that the Children of Vaal were an experiment by the people of Arret (Sargon's people from Return to Tomorrow - the planet's name was from a cut scene, but shows up on a star chart in Conspiracy).

DIVERGENCES: Arex is now linguistics Officer, though we've only ever seen him at the helm.

PANEL OF THE DAY - The disembodied head of Spock thinks you make no sense!
REVIEW: On the plus side, I like how Carlin connected The Apple and Return to Tomorrow, as both used Garden of Eden symbology. Because many planets seen in the original 5-year mission can be expected to be close to one another, this isn't all that far-fetched. The notion that Sargon's people made their own "genesis planet" also works, and helps make sense of the "magic" of the last couple issues (a bit). And I suppose the resolution works, even if one wonders why Akuta didn't jump in the whirlpool sooner (maybe Vaal needed Spock's kick start). However, the issue is heavy both on violence and exposition (from both Akuta and Spock's massive floating head), and there's a very strange and largely irrelevant sequence in which Arex learns the language of McCoy's riding beast. Are they like lumbering dolphins, or what?

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