In Review: Star Trek: Discovery: Captain Saru

A great book that has me hoping all contributors return for another adventure.

The covers: A pair to pick up as you follow the Kelpian captain’s first exploit. Cover A is by Paul Shipper and it’s incredible. Michael Burnham stands holding a phaser rifle down in the foreground, with Saru just behind her with his hands held in thought. Below him are images of Tilly and Stamets holding phasers pointed forward. To the left of Saru is a head shot of Detmer, while to the right of Burnham is Airiam. Behind the title at the top is the Discovery. This is a gorgeous cover. The Retailer incentive is by interior artist Angel Hernandez and interior colorist J.L. Rio. This has a large image of Saru’s head in a white circle. Covering the left of his jaw is another circle that contains a bust shot of Tilly. A tiny Discovery is flying across Tilly’s image with three streaks of light emerging out of it, crossing over Tilly and Saru. Very neat. The colors are a too passive for me. More intense colors would have made the pop more. Overall grades: A A+ and Retailer Incentive B-

The story: Kirsten Beyer & Mike Johnson have written a great tale. The book, which is set between Seasons 1 and 2, begins with a dream by Saru involving himself and Tilly in a familiar setting from the series. He’s awoken with a hail from Burnham because they are going to visit a famous location on Earth. At this setting, they discuss Saru’s dream and it’s interesting to see what each thinks of it. The two stop their discussion when they come upon something that Saru enjoys seeing. Again, each have really different takes on what’s before them. I love when writers do this with characters. While the Discovery is undergoing repairs, Saru is summoned by Admiral Cornwell for a mission: contact with the science vessel U.S.S. Dorothy Garrod has been lost and she wants the Discovery to find out what’s happened. Saru is to lead the mission with a skeleton crew; among them are Detmer, Rhys, Airiam, and Burnham. This is a typical story start to a Star Trek adventure, but Beyer and Johnson make it their own by introducing a new antagonist from an infamous Trek race. This character is fun and a solid challenge to Saru. I liked how Saru handled himself and the situation, making him much stronger than he was in all of Season 1. The solution to the dilemma is very smart, befitting a captain in Starfleet. I was also impressed with what was ultimately done with this villain as that was something I was not expecting. This is a solid tale that fills in the gap between seasons. I’m craving new adventures with characters from this series and this gave me what I wanted. Overall grade: A-

The art: Angel Hernandez is a great artist on this book. I’m a Trek fan since the 1970’s and I want my comics with these characters to look like their screen counterparts. Hernandez makes it so. The first page shows Saru’s dream and he and Tilly look perfect. Also impressive is the full setting in each panel. I was impressed with the considerable detail. The next page has him and Michael in a famous location, that’s easily identifiable without ever being stated in the text, and it looks perfect. I love the variety of points of view that he shows the characters in as they make their way to see an iconic object. Pages 6 and 7 have the Discovery appear in a panel that crosses both pages. It’s fine, but given the format of this book, much of the image is lost in the center. That was disappointing. However, things are great after this. The images on the Discovery‘s screen are really well done, with the distortion appropriate. When the foe is seen clearly she looks great. She’s close enough to the classic look, but different enough to be fitting for the time period. I really liked the transporter effects. The settings are incredible throughout this book, with the interiors of the ships amazing. The location where Michael ends up for a time has some great shadow effects. This book looks great and it has me hoping that Hernandez will asked back to illustrate more adventures of Saru and the Discovery crew. Overall grade: A

The colors: Starfleets’ ships have fairly dark bridges. J.L. Rio & Valentina Pinto are to be commended for having the colors accurate for these settings. This allows the uniforms of the officers to stand out and they do. Saru’s skin is also a good eye catcher, as light pinks aren’t shown often. The highlights on him throughout the issue are outstanding. The colors of the antagonists are the brightest in this book and I was glad when they appeared. The transporter effects had very light colors. I wish they had been a little more dynamic because it’s always exciting to see characters transport on the series, but it comes across as blasé here. Transmissions stand out well with them either being outlined by colors or entirely colored. Both make the reader aware that this dialogue is coming from someone not in the room. Nice. The sounds are colored to make them loud on the page and they’re appropriate. Overall grade: A

The letters: Christa Marotz creates the text for this issue that includes dialogue, transmissions, yells, and sounds. I’m appreciative of letterers that can insert their work into a panel that’s heavily detailed, as this issue is, without covering up key elements of the art. Marotz has no difficulties doing this. The transmissions are easily recognizable as coming from elsewhere due to their being in italics and in balloons that are jagged. Nice. The sounds, though few, are great. Early in the book are some SHRAAKs that look perfect for the action. Overall grade: A

The final line: A great book that has me hoping all contributors return for another adventure with these characters. A new villain is introduced, Saru’s character grows, and the visuals are outstanding. This is a Trek you want to take. Well, pay for it, then take it home. Recommended. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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