Warp Factor Trek

The Star Trek Fan Website

You could say that Star Trek’s first comics translation — by the company Western Publishing — was shaky. However, it paved the way to better things.

Creating the Art

The comics — published by Western Publishing imprints Gold Key and Whitman Publishing — started in 1967, while the original TV series was still on, and ran throughout the 1970s. The first two artists to work on the comic were both Italian, residing in Italy, and had not seen the show. Instead, they relied on photos of the main cast and the Enterprise.

The Enterprise firing phasers on a planet in the first issue

Sure, we’d get scenes with the Enterprise looking as if it had exhaust fumes coming out of the nacelles and secondary hull, giant pink tricorders, and phasers that looked more like they belonged in the company’s Flash Gordon book. Also, the artists seemed to have a problem properly drawing Uhura and Chapel. Chekov was hardly in this series and, when he was, he wasn’t very memorable. Generally, the comic was recognizable to Star Trek.

The Stories

Early stories had Spock often acting in very un-Vulcan ways, but over time, the series featured better stories, such as “Dwarf Planet”, where poor Scotty got shrunk. We also got the first glimpse of Doctor McCoy’s daughter, who appeared twice — once as a zoologist and later more of a marine biologist. Her name was “Barbara”, not “Joanna”, as DC Fontana had named her, but both stories captured what we thought McCoy’s daughter would be like — stubborn, cute, and she didn’t take any orders, even from Kirk.

Barbara McCoy talking crossly to Kirk upon first meeting him

Other stories involved similar themes to what we saw in the original TV series. They included Greek gods, in a story called “What Fools These Mortals Be”. There was also “A Warp in Space” — a sequel to “Metamorphosis” — that featured a return to the world where Zefram Cochrane and the Companion stayed, but it appeared Kirk’s promise to remain quiet wasn’t kept. It proved a good story, worthy of a TV episode sequel.

We also saw Klingons and Romulans. While early stories lacked a more sophisticated approach, later stories did their best to capture the continuity and feel of Star Trek.

In Conclusion

If you pick up a Gold Key or Whitman comic today, you might not appreciate what they offer, but I think you’d find most of them to be an entertaining read. So, should you come across any of these old Trek gems — and can afford them, as those in good condition probably fetch a high price — pick one up for yourself.

The first volume of The Enterprise Logs

The stories were also compiled into several digest books called The Enterprise Logs and published under the Golden Press imprint. These each included eight issues and featured some extra content. Later reprint anthologies were published by Checker and IDW.

It was a true loss when Gold Key ceased publishing this series. They had a good number of interesting titles and offered something different than your standard superhero content. Officially licensed Star Trek comics continued in 1979, with the adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and beyond by Marvel Comics. But that’s another story…

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