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This second Star Trek: Discovery annual, highlighting Saru, is set shortly before the USS Discovery departs from Earth in the Season 1 finale “Will You Take My Hand?”. Hopefully, delving into the comic won’t trigger your threat ganglia!

Log Entry

Saru dreams of an interstellar network of blueberries rather than mycelial spores. He awakens and meets with Burnham at the Louvre. Saru’s dream is a rare one because Kelpians usually have nightmares. He considers it might represent his relief that the Federation has survived its recent war with the Klingon Empire. He and Burnham view the statue The Winged Victory of Samothrace, which reminds Michael of the USS Discovery – powerful and brave yet lacking a head (following Lorca’s betrayal). Burnham hopes Saru will become its captain, though he says he doesn’t have sufficient command experience.

Burnham and Saru briefly consider visiting the Mona Lisa

While most crew take shore leave, Saru oversees Discovery’s repairs. With its primary systems operational, Admiral Cornwell tasks him to locate the incommunicado USS Dorothy Garrod, a science ship where Tilly’s father serves, whom Tilly is visiting. Saru accepts the mission despite only having a skeleton crew.

Burnham tracks the Garrod to a nebula, betting that the mission will be fairly straightforward. Discovery finds the vessel disabled In the nebula, which causes comm interference. Contacting Tilly, everything seems fine until Burnham notes the ship has reduced crew and Tilly warns of an ambush before comms are cut.

An away team beams onto the bridge of the USS Dorothy Garrod

At Saru’s instruction, Burnham leads a security team onto the Garrod. The team is attacked and kidnapped by unknown assailants. Their leader, an Orion woman, contacts Saru, introducing herself as Virra. Saru works out that her ship is cloaked. He refuses to trade Discovery for the release of the captives, so Virra ends the call.

Virra’s crew of Orion pirates throw Burnham into a cell containing Tilly and the Garrod’s commanding officer, Captain Holden, who explains that the Orion Syndicate has been operating without restraint during the war. Tilly, blaming herself, admits she was the one who suggested the Garrod investigate the nebula. Burnham reassures her that they can trust Discovery and Saru to save them.

Saru having a discussion with Virra over viewscreen

Saru meanwhile re-establishes contact with Virra, agreeing to her terms. She warns that, if there’s any double-crossing, her ship will kill the two crews.

As the Starfleet crews unite aboard the Garrod, the Orion pirates board Discovery. However, they fall victim to traps Saru laid using his intimate knowledge of the ship, angering Virra. She’s about to destroy the Garrod when Saru contacts her to say he has locked Discovery‘s weapons on her vessel – the transfer of Orion pirates to Discovery enabled Tilly to determine their ship’s position. Virra and her crew are forced to retreat to their own vessel and depart.

Burnham and Saru enjoy a meal in France

Saru and Burnham have dinner in Paris, where they acknowledge that Starfleet has appointed a more experienced officer over Saru to captain Discovery. In his personal log, he expresses that Burnham has bolstered his confidence. Discovery relaunches.

Status Report

The international setting of this tale is admirable, showing Saru and Burnham visit Paris twice and Owosekun hike Mount Everest. Also commendable are the comic’s nod to archeologist Dorothy Garrod and a view of Discovery undergoing maintainance in drydock.

Discovery in drydock

The comic’s reliance on the trope that the hero ship is the closest Starfleet vessel to an emergency situation is disappointing. Cornwell mentions that the rest of Starfleet is busy cleaning up after the war; this should have been the only explanation for why it’s Discovery that’s needed. At least the severity of cliché is lessened when, instead of increasing the stakes as would usually happen, Burnham suggests that the loss of communication with the Garrod might simply be due to the starship exploring a comms-disrupting nebula.

Introducing the Tilly plot thread amongst a montage sequence – showing what crew members get up to during their shore leave – is a wonderful touch that doesn’t telegraph her imminent jeopardy. I also love how mysterious the threat at first seems. Having an Orion woman as the antagonist provides an excellent precursor to Discovery’s conflict with Osyraa in the show’s third season.

A couple of novel references, with Burnham referring to Saru’s first command and Tilly recalling childhood aboard the Garrod

It’s interesting to see that this comic involves media tie-ins, as events from the novels Fear Itself and The Way to the Stars are referenced in the course of the comic. Rather than the comic disappointingly relying on readership of the novels, they’re thankfully briefly mentioned and their inclusion here piques interest in them.

Humour gives this comic an edge – for example, Saru mentioning that the Mona Lisa irritates his ganglia and Virra calling him a “lizard.” Thankfully, there’s development for the other main characters too, referring to Tilly’s father (though he sadly doesn’t appear) and portraying Owosekun as an experienced mountain climber.

Owosekun climbing Mount Everest

On the other hand, the comic is over too quick to make much sense. Why doesn’t Virra simply move her ship so Discovery no longer targets it? Burnham technically loses her bet that it will be a straightforward mission, yet Saru incorrectly says she won the bet and they nevertheless have dinner in Paris despite that having been arranged under the terms of her winning. Also left unexplained is why, though Starfleet appoints someone else to command Discovery, Saru is still in the command chair when the ship relaunches.

Delta3a
Rating: 3.5/5

Saru is a highly popular character and it’s great to see this comic focus on him. The physical character likenesses here are fairly good and the dialogue is even better, highly true to character. In general then, the settings and a couple of fun comedic moments are highlights in this comic. Though it’s slightly clichéd at first, the story develops well, only to disappointingly conclude with a pat ending. This is definitely a mixed bag and not as successful as the Discovery annual that preceded it.

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