7 Stories From Star Trek Comics That Would Have Served as Excellent Acting Showcases for Leonard Nimoy (RIP)
1. “The Legacy of Lazarus” (1971)
Make no mistake, Leonard Nimoy lived long and prospered before his Feb. 27 death at the age of 83. And while the man who made Mr. Spock one of sci-fi’s greatest icons returned to the role many times over the years, it’s only natural for fans mourning his loss to wish there was more of his work to enjoy — especially when we have so many comics that could easily have been adapted into ready-made TV scripts. Case in point: “The Legacy of Lazarus,”a story from the Gold Key series that ran sporadically from 1968 to 1979. None of the stories from the first comic series starring the Enterprise crew were what you might consider great — oh, let’s be honest, they’re downright terrible. It’s mainly because the creators rarely deviated from the TV show’s look and feel, forgetting that a comic book page isn’t constrained by the limitations of a TV show’s special-effects budget. You know what? Doesn’t matter. Because you know who wouldn’t want to see Kirk and Spock hang out with George Washington? Goddamn Commies and dirty hippies, that’s who. Plus, take a gander at that literally disarming high kick up there. No, seriously, look at it. Nimoy? He’d nail that.
2. “Domain of the Dragon God!” (1981)
The cover of this comic promises “In this issue: Spock — the Barbarian!” And like every other promise Marvel has ever made, that’s a big fat stinking lie. (Kidding! Don’t letter-bomb me, true believers.) While exploring an alien planet, Spock and McCoy volunteer for a survey mission on the surface that results in the two of them being separated and mistaken as shamans by the two primitive tribes that take them hostage. While McCoy violates God knows how many Starfleet regulations by introducing one club-hefting tribe to longbows and arrows, Spock does precious little that could be classified as truly barbaric behaviour — unless you count a brief lesson in Archimedean physics, as seen above — and the whole thing ends in a predictable round of “…and that’s why you always obey the Prime Directive!”
3-4. “The Mirror Universe Saga” (1984-85) / “Mirror Mirror” (1997)
It’s not surprising that “Mirror, Mirror” — the TOS episode that finds some of our crew trapped in an upside-down, good-is-evil parallel universe thanks to a transporter malfunction — keeps popping up in fans’ best-of lists when talking about the original show. And why not? It’s clear the cast got a kick out of playing their characters’ evil counterparts. The Trek franchise would go back to the mirror universe a few more times (most notably for a handful of fun episodes during Deep Space Nine’s run), but as far as I know “The Mirror Universe Saga” from DC’s first Star Trek book was the first time someone asked: so what did happen after evil-Kirk returned to his home universe? Did evil-Spock make good on his promise to “consider” good-Kirk’s proposal? The answers are in this story, which finds the mirror-Enterprise of the post-Search for Spock era entering our universe in search of strange new worlds to conquer. A few years later, Marvel’s Mirror Mirror one-shot went a bit further back in the timeline, specifically to the exact moment where the original episode left off. It mutiny and carnage aplenty as crew members make alliances and Spock consolidates his control of the ship. “You will find an intimate relationship with a Vulcan… rather stimulating.” Do tell, goateed one. Do tell.
5. “Door in the Cage” (1994)
This story from DC’s second Star Trek series functions as a sequel to the TOS episode “The Menagerie,” making it one of several Trek comics that offered sequels to classic Trek episodes. Here, Spock returns to the “forbidden planet” Talos IV to bring news to the immobilized Captain Pike of a new medical procedure that would allow him to live as a normal person, instead of experiencing life via the virtual reality constructed by his Talosian hosts. Their reunion is complicated by the introduction of Philip, Pike’s son, whom Spock suspects is just an illusion (a fair assumption given Pike’s medical condition). Frankly, there isn’t a lot of suspense in the story, especially when Spock is attacked by beings who are obviously illusions designed to dissuade him from taking Pike off the planet. But the story serves as a workable postscript to Pike’s story arc, and it functions as a suitable spotlight episode for Spock, whose respect for and loyalty to his former commander is never in doubt.
6. “Flesh of My Flesh” (1997)
Speaking of Pike. Star Trek: Early Voyages was a late-1990s Marvel/Paramount series that followed the adventures of the Enterprise under Kirk’s predecessor. With a whole new crew (with one pointy-eared exception) to play with, the writers came up with a decently entertaining series that had gotten closer to the spirit of the original TV show than any other part of the Trek franchise had in years. Sadly, it only lasted 17 issues (the 1990s being a turbulent time at Marvel, if you may recall), but that was long enough for it to come up with some great stories, including the one about Spock’s secondment to the Enterprise straight out of Starfleet Academy. Let’s just say Spock nailed the confidence thing at a very young age.
7. Spock: Reflections (2009)
Ideas + Design Work (or IDW, if you prefer) is, as of this writing, the most recent publisher to pick up the comic rights to the Trek franchise, and so far their books based on the classic shows and current Trek films have been… diverse, let’s put it that way. There’s no denying the creators’ love for all things Trek, though, and there have been a few notable books shining a spotlight on one of the franchise’s lesser explored — but dramatically potent — corners of the Trek universe. IDW also has the honour of publishing Spock: Reflections, the only comic series in which Spock gets title billing. Set just before the events in the 2009 Star Trek movie, the four-issue series follows Spock as he secretly travels from Romulus to Earth and back again, along the way reminiscing about the decisions in his life that have led to him attempting to bring the teachings of the Vulcan philosopher Surak to the Romulans. One of the biggest faults of Star Trek comics as a whole (and, one could argue, the entire franchise in recent years) has been an emphasis on action and spectacle at the expense of character studies that explore why these fictional adventurers have come to mean so much to so many fans. Reflections is a happy exception, willing to slow down the pace for a minute and offer a rare glimpse inside the mind of a man like Spock as he looks back on his life’s work. As a certain fellow might say, “Fascinating.“