On its way to becoming a multimedia franchise, Star Trek first entered the world of comics by way of Gold Key, who sporadically published 61 issues between July 1967 and March 1979 before the license was obtained by Marvel. Earlier this year, IDW reprinted Gold Key’s first six issues in a hardcover collection and now the second volume of Star Trek: Gold Key Archives, which collects issues #7-12, is available.
Fully re-mastered with new colors, the first two stories are written by Dick Wood (Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom), the rest are by Len Wein (co-creator of DC Comics’ Swamp Thing and of Marvel Comics’ all-new X-Men team featuring Wolverine), and the art is credited to Alberto Giolitti. Reading this collection, it’s not clear how familiar anyone at Gold Key was with the show, which was in syndication at this point, because from what’s presented here it comes across how someone would imagine Star Trek if they had been told about it but never saw it.
The stories are rather silly and seem geared more towards children rather than the more serious sci-fi stories seen in the Original Series. There’s a madman trying to rule Earth through the use of voodoo, a ray that can make people younger, a planet where Earth’s historical figures have assembled, an evil sorcerer who forces the landing party into his service, a story where the crew is affected by the emotions Vulcans removed with a machine and bottled up thousands of years ago before figuring out they needed to take control of them through logic, and a mission where the crew goes undercover as space pirates, who naturally dress like pirates of old. The plots make little to no sense and resolve because the book had to end as opposed to the cleverness of the characters.
The art is also problematic. Almost everyone in the crew but Spock wears green uniforms with no chest insignias. They travel with backpacks. The transporter effect is different as is Scotty’s appearance. The Enterprise enters planet atmospheres and has flame exhaust blowing out of the nacelles. And that doesn’t even take into account the word balloons occasionally coming from the wrong person.
Star Trek: Gold Key Archives, Volume 2 might be fun to revisit for those who grew up with these books and young children might enjoy them now, but I find it illogical that anyone else looking to read Star Trek comics about the Original Series crew would want something so far off the mark.
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