Issue Five: Mortal Gods
A single issue adventure by Mike W. Barr (Writer), Tom Sutton and Sal Amendola (Art).
The war with the Klingons is over but as short lived as it was, there are casualties. The Enterprise is dispatched to find out what happened to the USS Valor and it's crew, last seen in combat with the Klingons in the Beta Epsilon system.
The search leads to the sixth planet in the system which is a "B" in the Richter scale of Culture, meaning it has no industrialization and only primitive villages.
Admiral Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Lt. Sherwood, Lt. Saavik and Ensign Bearclaw beam down outside of a village to discretely search for possible survivors of the Valor. Unfortunately, a nearby farmer loses control of his mount and the animal bolts, threatening to trample some nearby children. Ensign Bearclaw fires on the beast and alerts the farmers to their presence. They greet the Enterprise landing party as "more gods from beyond the sky".
Of course, Kirk balks at being thought of as a god and asks the peasant named Lorac to take him to see the one whom they worship.
Kirk and crew discover that the indigenous folks (who are kind of bug eyed, snout nosed rat aliens) have accepted Captain Phillip Hodges as their God. Captain Hodges explains that during the battle with the Klingons his ship the Valor was destroyed. Hodges managed to escape with others in an escape pod that was programed to take them to the closest habitable planet but he was the only member of the crew who survived the crash landing. When the Valor's escape pod made its descent to the surface it flew over a large battle being waged by General Ballor and Commander Decton. The aliens mistook the pod's landing as some sort of cosmic omen and stopped fighting. They took in Captain Hodges and cared for him. In return, he used his advanced knowledge to further their medicine, sanitation, etc, and used Starfleet technology to ward off dangerous flying predators and the like. The aliens were so impressed by what Captain Hodges could do that they declared him a god. Of course, all of this had the natural effect of making Hodges quite power drunk, even a bit mad.
Kirk's not happy at all with the way Captain Hodges has hoodwinked his way into godhood and immediately demands that Hodges drop his act and come back to face the consequences of his actions. Yeah, that's not gonna happen and Hodges says so. Then Hodges makes a veiled threat that anyone who opposes him will meet a quick and unfortunate death at the hands of his loyal subjects. He sends Kirk away for the night to mull his precarious situation over.
Meanwhile, not everyone is sunshine and roses over Hodges supreme control. Commander Decton and General Ballor are anxious to get back to being sworn enemies instead of forced allies. Commander Decton has a plan...
General Ballor kills a guard and sneaks into the palace. He finds Captain Hodges and kidnaps him. Captain Hodges wife Lylla finds a piece of blood stained clothing and gives it to Admiral Kirk. Kirk and company set out to find out what's happened to Captain Hodges with Ensign Bearclaw acting as tracker.
General Ballor whisks Captain Hodges away to an unknown location and reveals to him that the one time god was gonna have a new career as martyr so that the two opposing factions could get back to killing each other.
Elsewhere, Commander Decton wastes no time inciting the masses against Ballor. Admiral Kirk happens by on his search and tells Commander Decton to knock it off. Kirk leaves Lt. Sherwood with the group to make sure that Decton doesn't start with more tirades. Decton isn't much phased by this turn of events and simply waits for Admiral Kirk to continue on his way before punching Lt. Sherwood out. He takes her phaser and declares that he who wields the weapons of the gods are as powerful as the gods. Decton and his group catch up to and ambush Admiral Kirks bunch with a few laser bolts and a whole lotta arrows. Kirk and company easily repel the attack and then they find the secret location where Captain Hodges is being held by General Ballor.
Ballor tries to cut the Federation captain's throat but Lylla interferes and is stabbed for her efforts. Ensign Bearclaw shoots and kills General Ballor. Decton's forces arrive. Decton is killed by Lt. Saavik and his forces immediately surrender. Dr. McCoy takes the gravely injured Lylla aboard the Enterprise for surgery.
Captain Hodges feels responsible for what has happened to his wife and comes to his senses. He tells Kirk he wishes to leave the planet but he doesn't know how to do it. Kirk says he has a plan.
Captain Hodges assembles his faithful and announces to them that the gods beyond the sky are summoning him home and he must leave. Amid cries of "no" and "don't leave us" a giant hologram appears (courtesy of some Enterprise trickery and Konom in a funny costume) and says, yes, Hodges time is finished he needs to leave. Hodges declares Lorac King or leader in his absence and then Hodges is beamed out.
Hodges admits to his wife that he's just a man and not a god. Lylla replies that she knew that from the start. Saavik is troubled that Kirk let the aliens believe they were gods. Kirk replies that he didn't force any particular belief on the aliens, that he allowed them to make their own choice in the end.
A Few Thoughts...
I don't care for the cover art for this issue. Star Trek really has a thing with ginormous people, doesn't it? Remember in The Squire of Gothos when Trelane stopped the Enterprise with his giant hand floating in space? Remember when Adonis from Who Mourns For Adonis grew to be like a 1000 feet tall? Remember last issue when the Excalibans and the Organians grew so large that one could see them stomping around in space? Just a weird thought. haha.
Something wrong with that klingon...
Ok, this is probably just me but I found this panel really weird. Dr. McCoy is running tests on Konom to see why he hates violence. Isn't that like running tests on why someone likes vanilla ice cream instead of chocolate?
YOU DON'T MESS WITH JIM KIRK...
There are several instances in this issue where people just whip out their phasers and go to blasting anybody that moves. Granted, Kirk and crew are under attack but...whatever happened to set phasers to stun?
Lastly, this issue suffered from some confusion between General Ballor and Commander Decton. In one scene General Ballor is inside a tunnel menacing Captain Hodges. In the next scene he shows up outside of the cave. It should have been Commander Decton that showed up outside the cave with the militia. In another scene Commander Decton is referred to as Dector. Strange.