Star Trek 1248: Past Imperfect

1248. Past Imperfect

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: Untold Voyages #3, Marvel Comics, May 1998

CREATORS: Glenn Greenberg (writer), Michael Collins and Keith Williams (artists)

STARDATE: 7683.1 (a year after the last issue)

PLOT: McCoy is hoping to spend shore leave with his daughter Joanna at Starbase Eleven, but he has a big fight with her when he thinks she's having an affair with Jim Kirk (nothing happened). Later, she's kidnapped by Jahn from Miri's Planet, where a new plague has sprung up and Miri has died. Jahn is seeking revenge against the doctor who failed to save her - Leonard McCoy. The Enterprise tracks them back to Miri's Planet and easily rescue her, but McCoy realizes his cure had unforeseen effects and it was his fault for not being thorough enough. The Onlies, dying once again, kick the "grups" off the planet, though Jahn does bond with Joanna, who promises to return after she completes medical school.

CONTINUITY: This is a sequel to Miri. Jahn from that episode appears. McCoy's daughter Joanna, from the Animated Series, has only appeared once before in comics (Marvel Comics's first series #13). Also of interest, is Gold Key's #40, in which McCoy's daughter (called Barbara) has a very similar scene where she and Kirk are caught flirting. Her engagement to a Vulcan there is undone ("it didn't work out"). Janice Rand is still transporter chief (The Motion Picture). Starbase Eleven was featured in both Court-Martial and The Menagerie.

DIVERGENCES: Joanna's appearance is not compatible with the original Marvel series (if it occurs before, she and McCoy should not be estranged in TOS #13; if after, a Vulcan fiancé would be acknowledged instead of "Paul"). How does the TOS novel The Cry of the Onlies relate to this story? It also features Jahn seeking revenge (but in the first 5-year-mission).

PANEL OF THE DAY - Old-fashioned villainy.
REVIEW: I don't expect the non-canonical stuff the mesh together smoothly, or even try to. After all, it's non-canonical, so no writer can be held accountable for not referencing a comics series from another company, etc. But it's fun to think it all fits together. My point is that I've read more than one Joanna McCoy father-daughter tension stories, and that there has been at least one other sequel to "Miri". In that context, it can be a little annoying to read retreads of things you've already read. Well, I haven't read The Cry of the Onlies, and I have very little patience for the Onlies' child-speak in the first place (it help drop that episode to Low Rewatchability all those reviews ago). Thankfully, this issue doesn't overuse it. But as half the issue is consecrated to the Joanna McCoy stuff, the Onlies don't really feature much at all. Not enough to redeem them or even make me hate them all over again. A case of too few pages to tell a more far-reaching story, especially with the superior Joanna subplot competing for pages. As far as Joanna stories go, this one features a far less strained relationship that I enjoy. Family histrionics give way to a lighter touch and sometimes real comedy. Who WOULDN'T warn Kirk away from their daughters? An uneven result overall.

Writer Glenn Greenberg talks at length about the making of this issue in the Comments.


Glenn Greenberg said...

I actually reread this issue not too long ago, and was surprised by how much it held up for me. I felt that the emotional stuff and the character interactions really rang true.

A few years ago, STAR TREK COMMUNICATOR--the magazine of the Official Star Trek Fan Club--ranked this story as one of the 10 Best Dr. McCoy Stories Ever Written, which was very gratifying.

On the other hand, you're not the only one who has said that I tried to do too much with too few pages. I remember having lunch with Bob Greenberger (former editor of DC's Star Trek comics) not long after this issue came out, and he told me the same thing.

Oh well. Can't please everybody! :-)

Siskoid said...

You've put me in good company!

It's a common problem with the comic book format and not the first time I've said something to that effect. If a comic book issue was an episode, it'd probably be a half-hour one (at most). (Untold #4, for example, has only an A-plot and no B-plot, and tells a satisfying tale.)

F. Douglas Wall said...

Joanna did not appear in the Animated Series. She was the idea of DC Fontana, who tried to introduce her in the live-action episode "The Way to Eden", (I think the studio had a problem with McCoy being divorced, or didn't want to lose their youth demographic by making McCoy seem old enough to have a grown daughter) but to my knowledge, has had no canonical appearances. non-canon writers seem to love her, though

Siskoid said...

Saying she was "from" TAS was overstating it a bit. It was the first mention of her, however (in The Survivor).

Timothy Tuohy said...

There was a lot of behind the scenes work on this one.

Glenn Greenberg said...

Very true, Tim!

My story was inspired by a script titled “Joanna,” which was written for the third season of the Original Series. In that script, Dr. McCoy’s daughter, Joanna, comes aboard the Enterprise and has a romantic fling with Captain Kirk. As you can imagine, this causes a major conflict between McCoy and Kirk--and between McCoy and Joanna.

Fontana’s script was so heavily rewritten that it bore no resemblance to her original story. The focus of the episode shifted to Chekov, and Joanna McCoy became Irina Galliulin, who had been Chekov’s love interest at Starfleet Academy, but dropped out to become a space hippie. The episode was filmed as “The Way to Eden,” and is now widely considered to be one of the loopiest--if not one of the worst--episodes of the Original Series. Fontana had her name removed from the credits of the filmed version.

For years, I’d been fascinated by the story of “Joanna” and thought it could have been a terrific episode. When I was working on UNTOLD VOYAGES, I wanted to take a crack at making Fontana’s story idea finally come to fruition. To be fair, other writers had used Joanna McCoy before me. She showed up in at least one of the novels, and she appeared in one issue of the first Marvel Star Trek comic book series. But those appearances, in my humble opinion, weren’t very satisfying. I felt that I could do better and be more faithful to Fontana’s original concept.

I followed the basic idea of the original Fontana script, but also decided to make the story serve as a sequel to “Miri,” since McCoy played such an important role in that episode and it was easy to establish that his cure turned out to be almost as bad as the original disease itself, thus Jahn would go after McCoy seeking revenge and Joanna would get caught up in it.

Marvel and Paramount liked my story, but Paramount was concerned that Kirk would be too old for Joanna to get romantically involved with her. Paramount suggested that Joanna get involved with another crew member, and named as a possibility--get ready for this--Mr. Chekov!

In response, I wrote a lengthy memo explaining why we shouldn’t change the story. For one thing, a conflict between McCoy and Chekov just wouldn’t have the same emotional resonance as a conflict between McCoy and Kirk. Secondly, Kirk wasn’t all that much older than Joanna. Using the Star Trek Chronology book published by Pocket Books, which was officially sanctioned by Paramount and written by people who actually worked on the various Trek TV shows, I proved that there was probably no more than a 16-year age difference between Kirk and Joanna. At the time of my story, Kirk was about 41 years old, which meant Joanna was about 25. Nothing too scandalous about that! And besides, the original “Joanna” episode was going to have them get together, and their characters would have been about six years younger back then!

Paramount ultimately relented, and let me go forward with my story. I was even allowed to include in the opening credits, "Inspired by a concept by D.C. Fontana", which I greatly appreciated.

Now you probably know TOO much! :-)

Siskoid said...

It's never too much, Glenn.

I gave The Way to Eden a solid (if controversial) Medium, but then I have something for space hippies.

It's so bad, it's entertaining. I hope we reach, brother. ;)


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