The Federation goes around exploiting poor third-world planets and taking all their resources in Starve Trek, the most unsubtle parody of Star Trek ever created. (It features Captain Jerk and Mister Squat.) But the lefty comic series is also pretty giggle-worthy, and seeing the (arguably socialist) Trek crew being portrayed as capitalist oppressors is pretty fascinating. Click through for details and a story synopsis.

The over-the-top Starve Trek appeared in the British socialist magazine New Internationalist in the early 1990s. This was roughly the same era as Tintin: Breaking Free, the crazy anarchist comic where our intrepid reporter has a political awakening. Captain Jerk and the crew of the Starship Appetize go around bringing free-market economics to poor planets and fighting the commie Klingonists. Further sign of sledgehammery unsubtlety: Dr. "McCoil" wears a Ku Klux Klan hood.

Every episode of Starve Trek deals with another threat to free-market economies. In "Plague of the Mind," the Starship Appetize encounters "a life-form that causes the mind to ask questions." It makes Dr. McCoil start to wonder if free trade is a rip-off, and Mr. Squat starts selling a Socialist Vulcan newspaper. In "The Trigellion Factor," a poor third-world planet overthrows its Starfleet-approved dictator and starts trying to eliminate poverty and hunger within a decade. It's up to Captain Jerk to put a stop to this Klingonist-engineered subversion. And then there's "The Abundance Machine," which sucks the natural resources out of planets and creates endless consumer goods. Can our heroes escape its clutches and figure out a way to exploit it?

I hated these comics back when they came out, but now I find them hilarious. They come from a moment when the Cold War had ended and people could dissect narratives like the original Star Trek for their Cold War paranoid overtones. And Starve Trek's critique of globalization presages the 1990s WTO protests. But mostly, I just like it for the kitschy sight gags, like the fact that the Appetize's saucer section is a trash-can lid, or a scale, or a big metal donut. That never gets old. Unfortunately, the Internationalist's site has gotten buggy since I last looked a few months ago, and the comics are displaying weirdly. [Starve Trek]