Star Trek: Starfleet Had a Forgotten Klingon Officer BEFORE Worf
D.R. Medlen
Worf Konom Star Trek Klingons
Worf Konom Star Trek Klingons
As the main antagonists of the original Star Trek series, Klingons were a feared warrior race without many redeeming qualities. With Star Trek: The Next Generation, fans gained more insight into Klingon culture. The newer series also introduced Starfleet's first Klingon officer, Worf. However, a Klingon officer did appear prior to Worf in DC's 1984 Star Trek comic book series, three years before The Next Generation's debut.
The comic series took place right after the events of the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In Star Trek #1 -- by Mike W. Barr, Tom Sutton, Ricardo Villagran, John Costanza, and Michele Wolfman -- Captain James T. Kirk and his crew are traipsing around the universe when they discover a group of Klingon's in Federation space hidden behind a wormhole. Through this encounter the first, albeit non-canon, Klingon officer was introduced: Konom.
In many ways, Konom was an ideal Klingon. His history was marked with all the great and respectable ideals of Klingon culture. He was pushed by his powerful family to become the best of the best. While still young, his brightness showed as he became highly adept at Klin zha -- a Klingon strategy game. When he began his first tour of duty, he found a disconnect with certain Klingon practices. During a raid, he found that he did not want to be a killer but was pushed to do it anyway.
Konom first encountered Captain Kirk and Ensign Nancy Bryce as a member of the Klingon crew behind the wormhole. As a result of this meeting, he decided to join Starfleet. Konom found battles and war interesting on a strategic level but was appalled by the continual loss of life. Starfleet would provide mental stimulation while, hopefully, avoiding fatalities.
After joining the crew of the Enterprise, Ensign Konom had mixed encounters with his fellow officers. Some of the humans on board were not comfortable with a Klingon living as one of their own. Because of their fear of other cultures, they targeted Konom with bigoted attacks. However, he did make several human friends on board. He grew especially close with Nancy Bryce. Their relationship blossomed from friendship into romance and the two were married. Konom also became the guardian of a young half-human/half-Klingon named Bernie. Bernie later took the name "Kobry," a combination of Konom and Bryce, to honor his friends.
In contrast to Konom's traditional Klingon upbringing, Worf's early life was much different. As a child, Worf was orphaned and adopted by a human couple. Raised by humans in a farming community, Worf had a unique life experience compared to many other Klingons. Although Worf was separated from others like him, he still tried to adhere to the Klingon ways. At the age of 15, he went through the Rite of Ascension coming of age ceremony. During the ceremony, Worf had a vision of the great Klingon warrior Kahless the Unforgettable who told him to do something that no other Klingon had done. Ruminating on the meaning of the vision, Worf decided it meant he should join Starfleet. Eventually, when he joined Jean-Luc Picard's Enterprise crew, Worf had reached the rank of Lieutenant junior grade and was a bridge officer.
Beyond the fact that they shared the same heritage, there were a few similarities between Konom and Worf. Both were father figures to mixed-species children, although Worf's child was his biological son. Konom and Worf both married women from different planets who were Starfleet officers. Konom married the human Nancy Bryce and Worf married the Trill, Jadzia Dax. Both men had complicated relationships with their Klingon ancestry. While they tried to adhere to the ways set by their ancestors, there were some things they could not reconcile with their personal moral codes. They sought something more by familiarizing themselves with other cultures and other ways of life. Konom and Worf proved that Klingons are a deep, layered people, and not much different from the humans who once feared them.