Garth of Izar was a decorated, highly regarded officer in the Federation Starfleet and former starship captain, who rose to rank of fleet captain in the course of his service through the mid-23rd century. His career dissolved in a dramatic descent into madness and attempted genocide, resulting in his commitment to the Elba II asylum for the criminally insane.
Starfleet's fallen hero
Garth emerged from Starfleet Academy to make good on his promise as a star pupil. Among contemporaries like Captains Pike and Garrovick, Garth became known as an eminent explorer, with a distinguished record for charting new worlds. As a tactician, he was a pivotal figure in the Federation victory at the crucial Battle of Axanar. His exploits were immortalized in his own time, becoming required reading at the Academy and inspiring members of a new wave of young officers.
His legacy was tarnished following the accident that left him badly maimed and near death. The gentle beings of Antos IV nursed him in his darkest hour, and gifted him with their technique of cellular metamorphosis to repair his mangled body. In gratitude, he "offered them the galaxy" – an offer refused. By this point, he was no longer the honored captain of the history books, and his diseased mind found such offense in Antos' rejection that he ordered his forces to annihilate the entire species. Whatever loyalty he once inspired in his crews vanished, and they refused his order. Federation authorities deemed it appropriate that Garth be sent to an asylum for the criminally insane. By 2268, he was in a ward of Elba II.
Exile on Elba II
The isolated asylum was a formidable cage to house the fifteen most incorrigibly dangerous and unstable outcasts of Federation society. Beyond internal security measures, the facility was surrounded by a powerful force field that blocked transporter activity and could even withstand the orbital bombardment from a starship. Outside the asylum dome on the planet's surface was no option considering Elba II's poisonous atmosphere. Effectively blocked from escape, Garth was limited to whatever freedoms he could find within the asylum.
Garth's sanity may have abandoned him, but his cleverness remained. In the time following his convalescence on Antos IV, Garth had secretly expanded his control of the transformative gift that had saved his life. Far beyond repairing damaged flesh, Garth amassed enough skill to assume the appearance of others, down to the sound of their voice and their clothing. He revealed his talent by taking the form of the asylum's Governor, Donald Cory, and convincing a guard to release him from his cell. The inmates were soon running the asylum, and all of them swore allegiance to their benefactor, "Lord" Garth.
The self-styled potentate stoked his dreams of empire-building while he reinforced his control over a petty kingdom. He manufactured a chemical explosive of substantial strength from available materials (and claimed it was the most potent weapon in history) and transformed a rehabilitation chair into an instrument of torture – taking great pleasure in tormenting his former overseer, Governor Cory. He found the time to court the most beautiful woman on the planet, eventually taking her as his "royal consort." The green-skinned pathological liar Marta consistently tested Garth's infantile patience, but he endured her, as the seductive dancer was the only woman on the planet.
Queen to Queen's level three
Garth's best chance to escape his exile came as the USS Enterprise entered orbit around Elba II for the delivery of revolutionary new medicines. Garth greeted Captain James T. Kirk and his first officer, Spock, in the genial guise of Donald Cory, and presented the asylum's image as the visiting officers expected, including viewing inmates in their cells. All except Garth's supposed cell, inhabited by a practically crucified Governor Cory. Once the Enterprise officers were secured, Garth revealed himself and declared his ambitions for galactic domination, backed by his new cadre of followers, "the future masters of the universe".
The form of Kirk seized his long-awaited moment of escape, and Garth contacted the Enterprise, asking to be beamed aboard. Chief Engineer Scott, at the conn, answered the request with a chess-code challenge, "Queen to Queen's level three," dashing Garth's hope for a prompt escape. Garth raged that his great escape had been so easily countered. Garth insisted he would "shatter every bone in Captain Kirk's body" to gain control of the Enterprise. Moments later, he invited Kirk and Spock to a little dinner and light entertainment.
Kirk, who professed to hero-worship, and Spock endured Garth's musings on his greatness. Flattery and offers of command in Garth's fleets were answered with reminders of Garth's former life and some key benefits of the formation of the Federation. A subtle segue into Kirk's thoughts on chess revealed nothing, faithless Marta's attempt to seduce (and kill) Kirk failed. Impersonating Spock, in a third attempt to learn the chess counter-phrase, was useless. A magnificent self-coronation ceremony and bestowing the honor of "heir apparent" left Kirk unimpressed. Even sacrificing Marta to the elements of Elba II and "mercifully" using her to demonstrate a sample of his new explosive, bore no fruit.
Garth's final gambit, once again assuming Kirk's visage in the hopes of confusing his first officer, was unable to prevent Spock's eventual identification of his true captain. Garth was subdued, and his followers were returned to their confinement. Cory and Dr. McCoy began to administer the new drug therapy to the asylum's patients with optimism.
Return to Sanity
Before the Enterprise departed, Kirk was at last able to catch a glimpse of the hero of his youth. With the help of the new medicine, Garth seemed to be emerging out of a fog, somewhat bewildered. Kirk identified himself and the name meant nothing, but the words "starship" and "captain" sunk in, and clearly held meaning. Garth raised his hand to shake Kirk's. (TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy")
"We are going to take the Enterprise. Do you hear me? We are going to take her if I have to shatter every bone in Captain Kirk's body."
"I may have you beaten to death."
"No, you won't, because I am the most beautiful woman on this planet."
"You're the only woman on this planet, you stupid cow!"
"You wrote that?"
"Yesterday, as a matter of fact."
"It was written by an Earth man named Shakespeare a long time ago!"
"Which does not alter the fact that I wrote it again yesterday!"
"What is your reaction, Mr. Spock?"
"Well, I find it, uh, mildly interesting and somewhat nostalgic, if I understand the use of that word."
"Yes. It is somewhat reminiscent of the dances that Vulcan children do in nursery school. Of course, the children are not so… well-coordinated."
"You, Captain, are second only to me… as the finest military commander in the galaxy."
"Should I know you, sir?""
- - A newly cured Garth's inquiry to Kirk, having no recollection of his recent actions. (TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy")
The first draft script of "Whom Gods Destroy" (dated 5 September 1968) referred to him as "Garth of Titan".  It was Kellam de Forest who proposed the name change to "Garth of Izar", suggesting the alteration if the citation of a place was "meant to indicate an exploit." The switch was recommended in a series of research notes de Forest sent Gene Roddenberry on 10 September 1968. In that same document, de Forest also noted that the source of Garth's name was Thomas Garth (1872-1939), who was an American psychologist and a world authority on racial traits and psychology.
Garth of Izar was one candidate rumored to possibly be an antagonist in the film Star Trek Into Darkness. Before the movie was released, a name for the villain was revealed to be "John Harrison", though whether this was his actual name or merely an alias was undisclosed. Star Trek Magazine issue 172, p. 33, in the lead-up to the film's release, speculated a fifty-five percent probability that the character would turn out to be Garth of Izar.
Garth of Izar was the main antagonist in the popular comic book storyline "Who Killed Captain Kirk?" from DC TOS volume 1. As revealed in the issue "Finnegan's Wake!", after his rehabilitation, Garth was put into menial tasks as Starfleet was afraid of letting "damaged goods" return to duty. Frustrated, Garth escaped and sought revenge against the Federation and Kirk in particular.
The RPG sourcebook The Federation gives his full name as Kelvar Garth and claims he was born in Trelemarcas, Izar. According to another sourcebook, The Four Years War, Garth commanded the Marklin-class destroyer USS Xenophon and defended the planet Axanar from a Klingon invasion.
A sequel novel to "Whom Gods Destroy" was written and published by Pocket Books in 2002, entitled Garth of Izar. The novel established that Garth's ship at the time of his injury was the USS Heisenberg, and that when his crew attempted to relieve him of command, Garth vaporized his first and second officers with a phaser before he was subdued. The novel depicted a now-rehabilitated Garth assisting the crew in averting a civil war on Antos IV, some of whose inhabitants had taken up arms after their initial encounter with Garth.
Garth's mirror universe counterpart, Kelvar Leonard Garth (β) appeared in the novel The Sorrows of Empire; he was the Grand Admiral of the Imperial Starfleet and, like his prime universe counterpart, he possessed the shape-changing ability taught by the Antosians. Correctly guessing the true nature of Spock's rise to power using the Tantalus field, Garth ran afoul of the same chess solution that foiled his prime counterpart in "Whom Gods Destroy", before he was himself "disappeared" by the device – courtesy of Marlena Moreau. His co-conspirators involved the mirror counterparts of Marta and Governor Cory. Garth was succeeded as commander of Starfleet by the mirror counterpart of Matt Decker.
In the Myriad Universes story A Less Perfect Union, which took place in an alternate timeline in which John Frederick Paxton destroyed Starfleet Command and ended the talks for the Coalition of Planets in 2155, Garth served as the commander-in-chief of the United Earth Starfleet during the early 2260s. He was the youngest person to have held that position, having been appointed to it following his victory at the First Battle of Axanar.
Garth was known for his low tolerance for failure among his subordinates. In 2264, he attended an "unofficial" meeting in which he, Admiral Wes Komack, and Prime Minister Carter Winston informed Captain Christopher Pike of the UESS Enterprise (β) that he was to transport Lady T'Pol and Ambassadors Nancy Hedford and Garrett Tarses (β) to Babel where they were to petition for United Earth's admission into the Interstellar Coalition (β).