Star Trek Team Heroes in Pop Culture & Comics
“Space. The final frontier.
These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.
It’s five year mission: to explore strange, new worlds.
To seek out new life, and new civilizations.
To boldly go where no man has gone before!”
– STAR TREK TV SERIES INTRODUCTION NARRATIVE
Space Faring Heroes Debut Into Pop Culture
Star Trek. Created by Gene Roddenberry, first appeared on television in 1966 with a team of heroes set into a space faring starship called the “USS Enterprise” on a five year mission of exploring the galaxy in search of life. These heroes were a crew designated by their conglomerate ruling body of the United Federation of Planets, a federation made up of many worlds within the galaxy. With a policy of non-interference into primitive cultures, but a take nothing from no one attitude that always turned them into the heroes of the day.
It all started off to the public in the first episode broadcast of “Man Hunt” on September 8, 1966  by CBS studios and Desilu Studios with:
Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the USS Enterprise, NCC 1701, and fearless leader;
Mr. Spock, Kirk’s first officer and friend who is of an alien origin called Vulcan, and possesses strength far average than human, as well as unique telepathic, telekinetic, and mental abilities that he couples with logic;
Lt. Uhura, a beautiful woman in a short dress, an expert linguist and communications officer;
Dr. McCoy, an uppity country doctor with a penchant for metaphors, hates space and teleporters;
Lt Sulu, a high spirited, go for broke, daredevil navigator; and
Commander Scott, the brogue Scotsman engineer that could always manage to find a way to get things fixed in the nick of time. We can’t forget him!
Couple a team with unique abilities with technology, an unstoppable ship, and cool gadgets, and to me you have super heroes, much like the ones conceived in the comics.
The Star Trek series ran from 1966 until it’s final episode in June of 1969 with “Turnabout Intruder.”
Star Trek Finds Its Way and Stays in the Comics
“Almost continuously since 1967, multiple companies have published Star Trek comic books with varying degrees of success. These companies include Gold Key Comics, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Malibu Comics, Wildstorm, and IDW Publishing. Star Trek: Enterprise remains the only Trek TV series that has yet to be adapted in comic book form.”
According to the afore mentioned Wikipedia link that the quote about comic books is accredited to, Star Trek found its way into the comics in 1967 by Gold Key Comics who continued to publish the comic of the original series until 1978, when Marvel took over the rights. However, restrictions imposed by Paramount only allowed Marvel to base stories on characters from the 1979 movie release Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a reunion of sorts in cinema format of the original crew from the television series.
The Star Trek name continued to change hands, and even found its place with Marvel again in 1996 until 18 months later the licensing agreements with Paramount became paramount, and thus discontinued again.
Eventually Star Trek would find it’s way ultimately to it’s current comic book publising home of IDW publishing since 2006.
Star Trek has run as a comic strip in the UK from 1969 – 1973, and in the US from 1979 – 1983.
Star Trek also found its format in an animated series which ran from 1973 – 1974 featuring
Star Trek in Graphic Forms and Novels
Since 1968, Star Trek has found its way into many graphic novels, foto novles as released by Bantam Books, series retellings, creative fiction works of our favorite characters in novel form. From Bantam Books 1968 – 1981, to Ballantine Books 1974 – 1978, and Pocket Books since 1979 to date. 
As an author’s note, I have to say that I have read a good deal of these over the decades and have always found them to be excellent ways to find new stories about some of these fan favorite characters.
Covering Controversies in the World at the Same Time Comics Were in Their Bronze and Modern Ages
Although Star Trek at the time of its release seemed to the American people to be a science fiction show about human beings in the future exploring fantastic worlds, meeting wild aliens, and utilizing their amazing personal talents as a team along with the futuristic features of their beloved Enterprise, it was not without controversies. It seems that the actors, as well as other production crew found it important to address issues of the times. This included and often focused around equality. One of the most controversial issues addressed in an episode, also one of my favorites, is called Plato’s Stepchildren.
In this particular episode Captain Kirk and his team are forced to stay on a planet where its few inhabitants use telekinetic abilities to force the crew to their bidding. In this, these alien humanoids use them for their entertainment and culminate to a point where Kirk is to kiss his communications officer, Lt. Uhura.
Why was this controversial? Lt. Uhura is of Swahili, or African American descent. Captain Kirk is caucasion. On it’s release on November 22, 1968, interacial mixing was just not the norm. It was quite frowned upon. I even remember reading an article (unknown source) that the actors (William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols) were specifically forbidden to perform the script with the kiss. They therefore did it anyway. This ultimately created disturbance for the original series, sabotaged time slots, and eventually it’s 1969 cancellation.
Star Trek tended to discuss controversial issues in episodes. One of those was built into the character of Mr. Spock himself as he was of mixed origin, being half Vulcan and half human. He always struggled between the logical Vulcan part, and the emotional human part.
Star Trek History Repeats Itself
In 1979, Paramount Pictures released a movie reprise of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, featuring the original cast and crew. It was fast a sensation that once again sparked off Star Trek once again in cinema, television, and of course continued in the comic book formats as the Star Trek universe began expanding.
Eventually 6 movies featuring the original cast would be created with
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
- Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek spun off a number of television series. Star Trek: The Next Generation; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; Star Trek Voyager; and Star Trek Enterprise. More and more teams were created. More movies ensued with Star Trek: The Next Generation.
It’s most recent reprisal has been that of the original characters with a new cast, and on a new timeline with Star Trek: The Movie and Star Trek: Into Darkness.
Fans Love Star Trek!
As a publishser and editor, I try to keep with current trends. One trend that I keep seeing that never goes away completely is Star Trek. I’m a big fan.
From conventions, to fan based production, cosplay, parodies, and more, the Star Trek Universe seems to be ever expansive. Fan based productions like Star Trek Phase II (aka: Star Trek New Voyages), Star Trek Continues, Voyage Trekkers, and more recently, a fan and cast based production called Star Trek Renegades. All have been awesome!
What is it that keeps the popularity of Star Trek going in the US and around the world? Perhaps it’s the fact that Gene Roddenberry created characters on a fantastic journey, but yet that we could all relate with. And this tradition continues.
as well as:
“Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made work intended for recreational use. No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.” – See more at: http://www.startrek.com/fan-films#sthash.kPBGI3RE.dpuf