DC Comics Star Trek #4 (Deadly Allies) offers the kind of story I’ve been dreading since I first began reading this run. It only took a handful of issues before Mike W. Barr decided it was time to start mining past episodes of The Original Series for entire plotlines.
(I’m blogging each and every issue of the DC Comics Star Trek run that debuted in 1984. Why would anyone want to do that? I explain all here in an introduction to this project that includes very first post in this series.)
Borrowing from its predecessors is a Trek tradition, with The Next Generation’s first few seasons treading familiar ground from The Original Series on occasion while trying to find its own niche in Roddenberry’s universe. There’s a difference between thematic inspiration and outright theft, however, and ‘Deadly Allies’ pushes way, way over that line while creating an entirely uninteresting rehash of a story.
Four pages in and Kirk has identified our suspect Excalbians not only by race, but by name, calling the Enterprise’s intruder by the name Yarnek. The two catch up briefly by foreshadowing the entire plot of the issue at hand – that is to say, by recapping the ‘good vs. evil’ test from ‘The Savage Curtain’ episode. The twist this time? There isn’t one. Oh wait, I guess there is, kind of: the Excalbians have decided ‘stage a conflict on a grander scale’ to answer the same, tired question.
In order to do that they had to imprison the Organians before getting things underway. By now, you can see where this is going. Yarnek spends several pages laying out the entire Excalbian plan as it has been executed to that point, including their control over both Klingon and Starfleet commanders. The alien then does EXACTLY the same thing it did to the Enterprise years and years ago, which is gradually disabling the matter/antimatter containment system on the ship and putting it at risk of being destroyed.
The. Exact. Same. Thing.
I’ll spare you the rest of the ‘plot,’ because you’ve seen it all before. Kirk and co. team up with Kor and manage to make it down to the surface of hidden Organia to convince the Excalbians that what they really want to do is fight the Organians at full strength. Amazingly, they agree, war is averted, and Kirk gets to make a pithy wisecrack about the human race not needing ‘omnipotent babysitters.’
What a tedious and completely uninteresting way to wrap up a story that was already about as fresh as Friday’s fish on Saturday morning.
Anything To Report?
In case it’s not clear, I’m very disappointed by the laziness of the writing in Issue #4. There’s no indication as to where the Enterprise crew might be headed next, so I’m holding out hope it’s somewhere far, far away from the treasure trove of TOS scripts Barr seems to have discovered.
Did anything of interest happen at all during the course of ‘Deadly Allies?’ There are a few tidbits.
Kirk makes a surprising reference to ‘intruder control gas,’ something I’ve wracked my brain about but simply can’t recall being used in The Original Series (although something similar called ‘anesthizine’ makes several appearances in TNG).
Kor threatens to kill Konom as a saboteur, before a single panel from Kirk convinces him that nah, maybe later.
Ensign Bearclaw gets a chance to double (or is that triple by now?) down on his anti-Klingon racism.
Scotty randomly offers scotch to his Klingon chief engineer counterpart, completely out of nowhere.
Best Retro Ad From This Issue
There’s an oddly specific full-pager for something called ‘Military Diamond Sales,’ which offers a range of diamond rings priced between $600 and $1320 – no small sum for 1984. The gist of the ad seems to that if you’re in the military, your interest-free credit for these diamonds is instantly approved.
I looked into the company, but all I could find were references to Mark Jewelers and National Diamond Sales, which were apparently big-time advertising contemporaries to Military Diamond Sales in the comic book world.
I find it a bit odd that MDS was putting so many eggs in the Star Trek comic book basket and counting on it reaching active armed forces personnel in the market to drop big coin on unseen jewelry, but I did appreciate that at the very bottom you have to tick a box to have the merchandise sent to either ‘Me’ or ‘Sweetheart or Wife.’