These Were the Voyages, pt. 10: Peter David

Goodness, this is the penultimate post in our series! That went relatively quickly. And DC's Trek, v1 wraps up with a stint of issues by Peter David. 

You know that scene in Casino where Sam tells Nicky, hey, you don't want them (the feds) to write your name in their book because they only have two names in that book and the other one is Al Capone? This has always reminded me of the list of "favorite writers" I kept on the inside cover of an 8th grade notebook. That list was Stephen King and Peter David (on account of his then-stint on Hulk). It's actually surprising to discover I've never blogged up David's Hulk (especially considering I spent so much time with later and earlier eras of the character) since it's in that Goldilocks Zone of blogging/personal preoccupations i.e. things I loved between the ages of ten and sixteen. 

David only stayed at the top for a year or two as I moved on to other things, but for awhile he was in there with Al Capone. These issues are only the beginning of PAD (as he's known these days - here's his Patreon)'s long association with Star Trek. He wrote some of the earliest TNG novels, one of which was given to me as a Christmas present and confused me for years by spelling DATA in all-caps everywhere it appeared. I asked him about this on Twitter ten years ago or so and he replied that it must have been the style book at the time but agreed it was tough to read over and over again. 

The difference in character dynamics, dialogue, structure, detail, and overall Trekkiness between these issues and the ones coming before them is profound. It's unfortunate the series didn't have him from the beginning. Fifty-plus issues of David, Sutton, and Villagran would have been wonderful. Let's dive in.

48. The crew throws Konom a bachelor party. Kirk says no booze, but Chekov, Bones, and Scotty spike the ritualistic punch bowl. Captain Kirk is hit in the head with a bottle, and Sulu hooks up with M’ress. 

Meanwhile, a renegade Federation vessel destroys a Klingon science colony, leaving only one survivor. More on him next time.

David achieves his first miracle is getting me to care about Konom, Bryce, and all the rest. Pursuant to my theory of why they killed off the much more interesting Surak crew while keeping these losers around, it's because two of them you can put into skimpy outfits. Well, technically, you could put all of them into skimpy outfits. I'm just trying to think like a publisher of yesteryear. That's Bryce as the "girl in the cake," which Konom instantly groks.

Klingon sensitivity, or something.

I believe the trope of the bride-to-be popping out of the wedding cake at the bachelor party usually spells doom. I can't remember if that's the case in Bachelor Party, despite watching it maybe two or three years ago. There's a Cheers episode where Diane is persuaded to jump out of the wedding cake at Sam's bachelor party and anyone of a certain age knows how that went. But I feel like in the space since I read this issue and when I am typing these words (perhaps a month) I saw something somewhere that broke the trend and I meant to mention it here. I have zero recall of what it was alas, but perhaps the trope is not as predisposed to break in only the one direction as I imagine.

Will it be bad joss for Konom and Bryce? We shall see. For any who ask why or how this sexist ritual persists to the twenty-third century:

49. The Enterprise investigates the destruction of the Klingon base and take aboard the sole survivor: “Moron,” a half-human, half-Klingon space urchin, untouchable in Klingon caste, interplanetary breeding akin more or less to bestiality. The crews scuffle briefly, long enough for Kirk to realize they have some unexplained, superior weaponry when they make their escape. 

First off, did I hear that right?

Yes I did.

The Bryce/Konom/Moron family unit is cute, and cutely explored. The big thing that happens this issue is Kirk tells Bearclaw he's had enough and he's transferred. He'd hoped he's grow into the role, but he was wrong and his mind is made up. 

The bad news is: he doesn't leave. It's good to see Kirk telling him what the rest of us outside the comic want to hear. But somewhat diminished by knowing he'll be here through the damn end of the series. Silver lining: it doesn't look like anyone did anything with the character after v1 ended. It's barely enough to cover the tab, but at least he goes out on a somewhat redemptive note (as we see in subsequent issues.) 

. First Kirk on this cover:


Kirk is ordered to work with the Klingons to bring the renegade ship to heel. Kirk sends one team to Omicron Cetti IV to follow some clues, where they find the dead body of Captain Zair, aka the renegade Captain. Who, then, is out in space, raiding colonies? And who is his mysterious benefactor, arming him with futuristic tech? Neither mystery is solved, but the crew and ship are captured, even though Zair escapes. 

"Moron" and the entire issue of half-Klingon/half-human offspring issue causes issues for Konom and Nancy’s wedding. (Do the Anniversary Issue meta-gaming: will it end with a wedding… or death?)

Obviously from the very first, Trek explored the implications of such things. "Half-breeds" have a colorful history in the world, but it is solely through the lens of late-20th-century black/white, or perhaps interfaith, couplings that we view things here. David handles it all pretty well. At the time of this writing I don't think there was any precedent for Klingon/human hybrids of any kind. 

51. and 52. The Enterprise goes to Hell – Dante’s Inferno, specifically. Courtesy of Lt. Castille, a telepath suffering from LeGuin’s Disease, a rare disease causing him to warp everyone’s reality to smithereens. Konom and Bryce enjoy their honeymoon.

M'Ress can't figure out why Sulu isn't into pussycats. (I'm sorry.)
Extra points for the inscrutable line.
Before Kirk realizes what's going on, he hallucinates something very interesting.

M'Ress' affections come in handy during the medusas attack.
Very nicely illustrated sequence by Sutton and Villagran.

Also, this Captain's Log sounds like a great cut-back-from-commercial. 
 I can totally hear all this in Shatner's voice.

53. At the end of the last issue, Bearclaw (or was it really him?) stabs Captain Kirk. This is the post-stabbing episode where his soul and mind wander while his body wavers between life and death.

My original summary referred to it as an 80s-tv-trope, but I don’t think that’s quite accurate. That’s just where I came across it first. (St. Elsewhere, Magnum PI, elsewhere. There's a memorable BSG episode more recently where it happens to Roslin.) It’s the sort of thing you’ve seen in a lot of places across a lot of mediums, the friends gathered round the body in Sick Bay or wherever, directly addressing the comatose body, arguing with each other, sleepless nights looking for a cure, etc. And it’s used effectively here. 

Actually, I guess we say pretty definitively now unless there's some complete surprise waiting for us in the next year or two that this is unquestionably the best Kirk-death meditation in the entire franchise. So hey, that’s something worth noting. This bit with Sam and Peter Kirk, and Spock, who has mind-melded with the Captain in a last-ditch effort to save him, really chokes me up.

54. and 55. The Return of Finnegan and Garth.

LORD Garth!

Spoiler alert! The renegade captain is actually Garth of Izar, returned to his old shapeshifting ways and wreaking havoc on the Federation and eager to avenge himself on Captain Kirk. Starfleet sends Finnegan – yes, that Finnegan – first to investigate some of the damage we saw in issues 48-49 and then to meet up with the Enterprise, where Kirk learns he’s both grown up a bit and still something of the same old Finnegan.

Except that’s not quite true. Hats off to Peter David for rehabilitating freaking Finnegan; the character here is pretty great. From the moment he appears, investigating the goings-on at Omicron Cetti IV and throughout the two issues, he comes across not as the annoying prankster from "Shore Leave" but more like The World's Most Interesting Man from the Dos Equis commercials. You get the sense that here's a guy who has seen and done it all. 

And the above bit/ set-up comes back in a nice Chekov's Phaser fashion, as Kirk has rigged his door for this revenge gag but it ends up saving his life as Garth has taken Finnegan's form:

Kirk thinks he's warning the real Finnegan here. I'm overexplaining this.

The best comes at the end, though, which was too much to try and screencap, but as Finnegan is leaving, he agrees to a no-hard-feelings-Kirk arm wrestling match which he appears to lose after a valiant struggle. After a little backslapping, everyone now friends, he's about to make his exit when Scotty says not so fast, you still have to arm wrestle me, too, you know, I've got more records than the Captain himself (there's all this arm-wrestling-at-the-Academy talk, you know how it goes). Finnegan says well sure, okay, sits down, and after one-two-three-go he immediately slams Scotty's arm to the table. Everyone is startled. Big grin then hey-whoah-look-at-the-time-must-go-toodle-oo-my-new-friends

Finnegan! You old so-and-so.

Did I mention Finnegan was married? I like this bit between her and Spock. As well as Arex:

Good stuff. These three issues (the two-parter plus the Kirk's death meditation) are my favorite stuff of the series. I can't say enough about how the entire cast springs to life under his watch; there's no other way to put it. What a damn shame they didn't tap him to write Generations

As for Bearclaw’s trial, well right, it was Garth, not Bearclaw. Either way it's unfortunate it did not end with his death.

Given the proliferation of shapeshifters and illusionists in Starfleet alone, not just the Trekverse, not to mention the psycho tricorder and telepaths and whatever else, the standard legal set-up seems a little silly, doesn’t it? Nobody tell Samuel T. Cogley. 

56. A mystic takes over the Enterprise to bring him and his followers to a planet where he promises death and healing. Bones reunites with an old flame (Tonia Barrows). Written by Martin Pasko and illustrated by Gray Morrow.

There is no indication that this is the end for the series - in fact the lettercol hints at a future issue 100 in November 1992 - but here we are. Too bad we didn’t get a proper farewell from the usual art team (and we should pause to consider practically the entire series was illustrated by a single art team, which is rare) or from Peter David. Gray Morrow and Marty Pasko are certainly legends in their own right, but this issue feels like filler. Especially after the last three. DC's Trek, v1, comes to an indifferent close. It will be relaunched one year after issue 56 with a longer run by Peter David. But that is a tale for another day, and another blog. 

We'll return for one last Trek v1 post to look at Annual #3 and PAD's adaptation of Star Trek VUntil then here are the Leftover Screencaps from all the above. 

This is the best goodbye note ever.
I have adopted this as my new "note for the missus" whenever I go anywhere.

Until next time, friends and neighbors!


  1. (1) Interesting take on marital relationships. It seems like it was all done in the Trek style for the most part. Also interesting for how the girls get the upper hand. I get the impression a "Congratulations ladies" is in order. Though here's where the ironic part comes in.

    Fact is, the way the article itself is written, I'm not sure if I should follow that initial impulse, or just keep what I hope is a respectable silence. Unless it's not? Yes, no, maybe so? Somehow I get the feeling I just made an idiot out of myself either way on this one.

    (2) Okay, here's the thing. I don't get the same vibes from the Klingon above that I did from ol Mr. Hither and Yon. At the same time, my reaction is to start chuckling, while also thinking: "Uhhhh, okay, sure. Go on". Then having to admit the name itself just keeps getting in the way.

    (3) That Inferno issue. Wow. Just wow. That whole setup looks like one big, brilliant mind fuck. At the same time, what seems to both save and hold it all together is a bit of genuine heart. How many people today even know about Kirk's son? Good to see that addressed in a respectful way.

    This is one of those ideas where you'd like to see it either as a two part episode, or else maybe a movie. At the same time, it's one of those deal where you can write and try to illustrate this stuff, though you can never really film it. That's got to be the first time Trek has ever entered the hallowed halls of unfimmable material. That sort of places it right up there with Middle Earth and Dune. Now that's an honor right there. I almost want to add some narration for Rod Serling, if that makes any sense. Just seems to fit the vibe of the whole thing.

    (4) All those in favor of re-writing "The Orville" so that it really is Trek, and it features Finnegan at the center of it, please signify by saying "Ay"! This one is interesting not just for the sense of honest character development, but also for the interesting potential of other stories like this.

    Like I can imagine a humorous episode where Kirk and Co. fin themselves stranded at the Federation version of the DMV thanks to this issue. The difference is it avoids the pitfalls of, say, "Lower Decks". It manages to be a legit comedy and actual Trek. Maybe someday someone will break that formula.

    To be continued.


    1. (3) I'd say Trek lived in the hallowed halls of unfilmable material in the old Gold Key issues, but those are so goofy that it's difficult to imagine them being filmed as Trek at all. But yes, exploiting the potential of the comics medium vs. stuff you actually have to film/ build is agreeably cool.

      (4) Like Starfleet Legal, I like the idea of a "Federation DMV" show!

  2. (7) That scene between Spock, Finnegan's wife, and Arex is interesting. The one thought it immediately conjures up in my mind is this. "Yeah, this was written in a time when no one even had a clue what a thing autism was".

    Don't get me wrong, I'm neither trying to make light of any possible situation. Nor am I interested in painting an entirely false picture of Spock as a character. It's just there's something about that whole scene, and the private exchange expressed in it that puts me in mind of issues that I've heard or read that some folks on the spectrum can sometimes have when it comes to "reading the room temperature". I wonder how this scene would play out now, or how it would be written with the spectrum in mind. Interesting questions to be sure...As long as the writing didn't screw it up.

    (8) Well, you promised M'Ress and Arex would have a lot more to do, and you sure weren't lying. Nice to see so much fun stuff happening for her, from the epic to the romantic. When I read that slurred "sure" line, my immediate reaction was, "Whoa, taker her easy there, kitten". Was that insensitive, in any way? Ah well, great to see her getting more of the spotlight.

    (10) This whole damn thing just looks plain awesome. If it's true Pete David had more Trek writing duties in the then future of this franchise in comic form, then I'm looking forward to more where this came from. Haven't had this much fun with Trek for a long while now.


    1. (8) M'Ress has a good run here, for sure.

      (10) I enjoyed these so much I almost picked up a whole bunch of David's 2nd Trek series (v2, which began a year or so after this one) but didn't want to get carried away. These issues are great, though, and I intend to track down some blog that covered v2.

  3. (1) "That list was Stephen King and Peter David" -- And it's worth pointing out that David wrote a great many issues of Marvel's "Dark Tower" comic in the '00s and '10s, so those two names eventually colluded to some degree.

    I myself have always retained his name thanks to some of his Trek novels. No idea if any of those would hold up for me these days, but he wrote some that I adored back in the day. ("DATA"s and all!)

    (2) I apologize to God, because if He exists and sees all then he's privy to the mental debate I am having with myself right over whether I would with a sentient cat lady. Hey, if good's enough for Hikaru...

    (3) "Moron"? "Moron"?!?

    (4) That's supposed to be Chekov in the "inscrutable" panel? Yikes. (M'Ress doesn't much like M'Ress either, for that matter.)

    (5) Nice job on bringing in Sam Kirk (even if only as an illusion).

    (6) "he comes across not as the annoying prankster from "Shore Leave" but more like The World's Most Interesting Man from the Dos Equis commercials. You get the sense that here's a guy who has seen and done it all. " -- This is a pretty fantastic idea! Anyone who can make Finnegan not only palatable but interesting surely deserves a medal of some kind.

    (7) "I can't say enough about how the entire cast springs to life under his watch; there's no other way to put it." -- If I recall correctly, this was also what made his novels tick. He simply made the characters feel real, even the TNG characters. In other words, his stuff read as genuine Trek which just happened to be taking place in a different medium.

    (8) Are ... are there sentient groundhogs standing on top of one anothers' shoulders in that one panel...?

    (9) Not wild about a few of the characters' depictions, but otherwise, the art on these looks great!

    1. (2) I thought it was weird in the 90s when Marvel started writing erotic Tigra. Weird - but totally understandable. It was Tigra and demonic-Patsy-Walker (not feline but devil-lady, something Coop/Lord of Acid took to the next level 15 years later or so) that probably opened me up to the idea.

      Then I saw video from the recent CATS. Yikes! Okay, maybe not.

      (4) I don't know what the deal is with the shifting likenesses of the series. Chekov suffers the worst from this, I think. I don't know whether it was from the actor's people demanding changes or because they couldn't officially use his likeness after a certain point or what.

      (8) Alas, there's not much else given for them to do, but probably. What planet is this? Somewhere for Sulu to vacation next perhaps. (At least this comics inscrutable Sulu.)

  4. I'm surprised no one said anything about the Bloom County panel!

    1. I knew I recognized the characters, but couldn't identify them!