Star Trek Already Redeemed The Enterprise’s Worst Captain

John Harriman is generally regarded as the Enterprise’s worst ever captain, but the Star Trek tie-in comics actually worked to offer him a measure of redemption. Throughout the franchise’s storied history, the various ships named Enterprise have been skippered by some of Starfleet’s best, James Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard among them. Harriman’s disastrous first mission ensured he’ll never appear on that list, but Star Trek: Captain’s Log: Harriman, first published by IDW in 2010, sets him on the path to redemption.

Played by Alan Ruck, Captain John Harriman has made one canonical appearance in the Star Trek universe: in the opening sequence of 1994’s Star Trek: Generations. Introduced as the captain of the Enterprise NCC-1701-B, Harriman’s first mission at the helm was a complete disaster, resulting in damage to the ship as well as the apparent death of James Kirk. Harriman’s career, through no fault of his own, was off to a horrible start, and he gained a reputation among fans as incompetent and too green to be commanding a ship named Enterprise. However, in IDW Publishing’s Star Trek: Captain’s Log series, some of Starfleet’s lesser-known captains got their time to shine – Harriman among them.

The story, set six months after Harriman’s disastrous first mission, begins when Doctor Leonard « Bones » McCoy boards the Enterprise-B for a special mission. McCoy’s grief over Kirk initially clouds his perceptions of Harriman. However, when he learns Harriman is planning on transferring off the ship, McCoy has a change of heart, and eventually gives Harriman a heart-to-heart talk. Challenging Harriman to be a better captain, he relates the story of Kirk destroying the Enterprise to keep it from falling into Klingon hands, as seen in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Not long after, Harriman and the Enterprise are confronted by renegade Klingons. Harriman takes charge of the situation and uses a modified version of Kirk’s tactics. After the Klingons are defeated, Harriman decides to stay on the Enterprise; McCoy tells Harriman that his actions would have made Kirk proud. The story was written by Marc Guggenheim and drawn by Andrew Currie.

Harriman Became a Star Trek Hero

Harriman does not have the best reputation among Star Trek fans, but this story goes a long way to rehabilitating his reputation – and all it took was a talk with Doctor McCoy. Harriman’s first mission ended in tragedy but, as this issue points out, the ship was sent out of space dock incomplete, missing both a tractor beam and photon torpedoes – both of which could have saved the mission. The odds were stacked against Harriman from the start, and this story shows the fallout. Harriman has no faith in himself, having lost Starfleet’s greatest captain on his first mission. This lack of faith translates into a lack of respect from his crew, but McCoy’s talk helps Harriman get his spark back, just in time for a Klingon attack.

The likelihood that John Harriman will return to the Star Trek universe is slim, meaning he may never get on-screen redemption. This story shows Harriman’s potential to be one of the greats, earning the respect of Doctor McCoy and effectively redeeming Star Trek’s worst Enterprise captain.