When you think about it, Star Trek: Discovery has quite the hefty set of ancillary characters, ones who never get much in the way of the spotlight, but are there diligently doing their thing and making up the numbers. Part of the ensemble, but not getting much attention.
Take Linus, for example, the Saurian crewman whose main bit of onscreen notoriety came in sneezing over some of the USS Enterprise’s visiting officers in a Turbolift. Just imagine if that was to end up being your claim to fame in the annals of Star Trek lore. Fairly ignominious, and really not the kind of legacy that you would truly hope for. Luckily, IDW’s Star Trek: Discovery – Adventures In The 32nd Century series has gone a long way to bring these minor personnel to the fore.
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The Saurians were never one of the most prominent out of all the myriad of species featured in Star Trek canon, probably being best known for their Brandy than anything else. Linus – as portrayed on the show by David Benjamin Tomlinson – was the first Saurian to be featured, giving us a glimpse of an alien race which truly felt that: alien. It certainly made such a refreshing change from the cliche of aliens in Trek tending to be mainly humanoid, but with bumpy foreheads of varying degrees and design.
Linus made such a visual impact, as his reptilian appearance was so strongly different from the norm in Trek prosthetics, looking so distinctive that he just pulls focus in every scene, ironically highlighting both the lack of infinite diversity and infinite combinations when it comes to the franchise’s alien make-up designs. Mind you, it has something of the bumpy track record when it comes to realising lizard-like species, like the Gorn, which ended up looking precisely like what it was: a man in a cheesy rubber suit.
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Thank goodness, then, technology has progressed quite a bit since the 1960s, and now the range of creatures featured in the various shows seem far more realistic. Poor Linus, as the sole representative Saurian, however, has ended up mainly as comic relief. Luckily, writer Mike Johnson has taken up the significant opportunity presented by the Adventures In The 32nd Century series to let us get to know Linus a little better, and find out more about not just who he is, but also discover something about his heritage.
The Saurians are an interesting ‘what if?’, as Linus’ people come from a world where they could have been met with a catastrophic end, similar to the dinosaurs on Earth, but as it never came to pass, evolution took a very different course. This is the kind of world building which would generally be done on screen by telling, not showing, but in the format of this comic book range – by focusing on a different character each issue – we have a chance to tell these personalised and individual stories, and not have to worry about having these kinds of cutaways.
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Here, we get to see Linus becoming the star of the show, by presenting him with a challenge which only he can resolve, testing his abilities as well as his self-confidence, as we see him questioning his own place amongst the rest of the crew. For once, Linus is given some real gravitas, rather than just being deployed for laughs, and it sadly shows what kind of potential is really being wasted in Discovery. After reading this issue, you come away feeling you want to see far more of him, and in dramatic situations too.
This has certainly proved to be one of the standout issues of the range so far, aided by some more outstanding visuals by artist Angel Hernandez and colourist J.D. Mettler, with the duo making this consistently one of the best looking books out there. If only the parent programme could live up to the giddy heights frequently being reached by this comic spin-off.
Star Trek: Discovery – Adventures In The 32nd Century #4 is out now from IDW Publishing.