Review: Doctor Aphra #17

Doctor Aphra: Still gay
Tolvan: Still doesn’t know her name. Still pretty into her

I dig it.

“Remastered” has no intent of confining itself to just one location and in Doctor Aphra #17, our favorite archaeologist and her team make their way to a rebel pilot training base where the general in charge is a very familiar green face. Yup, it’s the face you’re thinking of because who else could train a batch of recruits to fly x-wings quite as well as Hera Syndulla?

One thing I really like about this comic is that it never tries to hide that Aphra’s not a great person but at the same time, it makes it clear that she’s not exactly a really bad person either. This arc in particular has emphasized this with Triple Zero forcing her to do things she otherwise wouldn’t and Tolvan skinning another being as part of her disguise which Aphra’s not okay with. It gives Aphra more depth than your standard “bad gal” and honestly, it’s part of what makes me love her. It’s also a part of what makes her feel real. She makes a lot of bad decisions and then has to deal with the consequences. If anything, Jango’s line about being a simple man trying to make his way in the universe probably really applies a lot to her too.

This issue also does lovingly poke fun at how trusting some of the Rebels can be. (Or maybe that’s just Flight Control; Hera at least knows what’s up. Actually Hera is by far the most competent person in this issue.) In a way, it’s almost sweet how he so easily believes that these mercenaries are there to join up without any ulterior motive.

I think it’s been a little while since I’ve mentioned it but I am really digging the Laiso/Rosenberg combination for the artwork on this book. There was something about their work on this issue that particularly clicked into place. I can’t quite put my finger on it but there was something about it that took my feelings on the art from like to love.

There’s a heck of a lot going on in both “Remastered” and Doctor Aphra #17 and I’m definitely still on board with all of it and can’t wait to see how both Hera and Aphra handle things in the next issue.

Doctor Aphra #17: Kieron Gillen and Si Spurrier/Writers, Emilio Laiso/Artist, Rachelle Rosenberg/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Holonet Blast #45

SOLO WHAT A MAN SOLO. Yeah. That’s basically everything in our Holonet Blast this week. Well… almost everything.

Let’s just get this first one over with: David Benioff and DB Weiss of Game of Thrones fame are going to be making a series of Star Wars films. We don’t know what they’re about yet but we do know that yes, this is yet another film(s) being written by white guys. Give us a little diversity behind the camera, please.

In better news, Iger says that there are several TV series currently in development. Star Wars is launching a new Force For Change campaign which gives you for first shot at Solo merch.

Disney also gave us some more insight into Galaxy’s Edge. You can buy toys from a Toydarian and I don’t know why this delights me so much.

And now… Solo. So much Solo. EW unleashed an onslaught of articles: Emilia Clarke talks Qi’ra, why Ron Howard, jumped on board, the rogues gallery, an elite droid, LANDO!!!, and some Han Solo. And with that, go watch the trailer again. Because you can.

Review: DJ: Most Wanted

DJ: Most Wanted: It’s fine.

Oh wait. You want more of a review than that? Fine.

(Did you see what I did there?)

Set right before the events of The Last Jedi, DJ: Most Wanted gives us a little more insight into what it’s like to be DJ. Unsurprisingly, it’s basically what you think: a scoundrel who finds trouble and looks out for himself. This isn’t even necessarily a slight against Ben Acker and Ben Blacker because there’s really only so much they could do with a character prequel comic like this and we have seen them do far more captivating work with their Storms of Crait one-shot where it feels like they had more freedom. It’s not a bad comic. It’s just… a comic in which DJ certainly gets into trouble and tossed into jail. If nothing else, the story helps further flesh out Canto Bight. If you want more of these things, it’s worth picking up this issue. Otherwise… it’s fine.

The one delightful thing about this book is that we get to see Kev Walker drawing Star Wars again! There’s no one else I could imagine being the one to draw an incredibly buff Rodian. (No really: look at the size of his biceps!) If nothing else, you can always count on Walker to keep his cast of characters diverse and his backgrounds interesting.

Bottom line? DJ: Most Wanted is fine but not worth going out of your way for.

DJ: Most Wanted: Ben Acker & Ben Blacker/Writers, Kevin Walker/Penciler, Marc Deering/Inker, Java Tartaglia/Colorist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White, Editor

Review: Mace Windu

Mace Windu just might be the first of the Marvel comics that I recommend you skip entirely and that’s a bummer. Mace Windu has been one of my favorite Prequel Era Jedi ever since I read Shatterpoint and I was hoping for so much more from this. In fact… go pick up a copy of that book instead. It may be Legends now but it’s a better use of your time than this bland comic.

Bland may sound harsh but it’s the best way to describe the book. You could have subbed in almost any other Jedi without the story changing too much. That’s not a good thing. If you’re going to put Mace Windu on the cover then you expect a little of his grim and badass personality to come through on the pages. It never does. That’s not to say that Matt Owens doesn’t try and come up with an interesting story and you can see places where it might really take off but unfortunately, it just never works out.

And then there’s the art… It’s difficult to move past the gremlin Yoda and struggling depictions of some of the more familiar aliens. Most of the time, the art is serviceable but it’s difficult to get that image of Yoda out of your head.

In the interest of not being entirely negative about the comic, I was happy to see the miraluka brought back into canon. They’ve always been a species that’s fascinated me and the eye-related humor did get a laugh or two from me. The absolute best part of the book were the battle droids. Owens got their voices and The Clone Wars feel down pat. They were the highlight of the book.

I genuinely hate to sound so down on a Star Wars comic. I honestly do. Mace Windu isn’t necessarily bad: it’s just not up to the level of the other Star Wars comics that Marvel’s been publishing. You can feel comfortable in skipping this one.

Mace Windu #1-5: Matt Owens/Writer, Denys Cowan/Penciller, Roberto Poggi/Inks, Guru-eFX/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos & Charles Beacham/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Poe Dameron #23

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Poe Dameron #23 had me flipping each page as anxiously as I might watch a dogfight in one of the films. It feels like a strange thing to say because we know that Poe’s going to make it out okay and we know that Lor San Tekka has to survive to hide on Jakku and yet I found myself consistently worried about both of them and, weirdly enough, Terex.

Let’s start from the top. When last we saw Poe, Commander Malarus who is, without a doubt, completely out of her mind, had just commandeered his x-wing. There’s just something about Poe that seems to infuriate his First Order opponents beyond their ability to think rationally. Malarus was just… Honestly, I can’t say that she’s been my favorite villain in this book. That honor still goes to Agent Terex who has really seen better days but who is also doing whatever he can to get control of his mind back. (Who knew that the riot batons came in miniature sizes?)

Poe, on the other hand, does some pretty fantastic flying in an unfamiliar ship but it has consequences that are, shall we say, adding to the feel that we’re rapidly approaching the events of The Force Awakens in this comic. On the one hand, it’s helping build the excitement but on the other, it’s a bit of a bummer because I’d love to see so much more of the Resistance in this book especially now that the Tico sisters are likely fair game. Also, precisely how much money does Leia have? Is she funding this entire Resistance out of her own bank accounts? And if so… daaaaang House Organa was loaded!

Poe Dameron #23 is a definite page-turner and I’m very anxious to see how things go in #24 especially after those last few pages.

Poe Dameron #23: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Darth Vader (2017) #10

If Darth Vader #10 tells us anything, it’s that there is still a bit of Anakin Skywalker close to the surface of the man who is now Darth Vader.

We all knew how this story arc was going to end for Jocasta Nu. There was no other option. We know how this sort of tale ends for the Jedi. That said, what an ending for her and I can only hope that someone further down the timeline makes use of the seeds that Jocasta planted. More people need to read this comic and give her some respect. If nothing else, read it for a badass old lady condescendingly calling Vader ‘boy’ and not giving a damn that he could kill her with a thought.

The one thing that this comic has consistently done beautifully is explore the rough transition from Anakin to Vader without ever actually putting us inside of the Sith Lord’s head. There’s still a little bit of the Jedi hero that was once within him; the sort of man who hesitates when it comes to killing his clearly defeated enemies. I couldn’t help but draw mental parallels between how he treats an unarmed Jocasta and how he inititally treated an unarmed Dooku. In contrast, we see the lengths he’s willing to go to protect his own secret… and it doesn’t end well for the clones. (Honestly, does this book ever end well for the clones?) Either way, it’s a delightful slow burn that has me always eagerly awaiting the next issue.

Darth Vader #10 is a satisfying conclusion for the Jocasta Nu arc and absolutely one that’s worth picking up just like this entire comic has been.

Darth Vader #10: Charles Soule/Writer, Giuseppe Camuncoli/Pencils, Daniele Orlandini/Inks, David Curiel/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Holonet Blast #42

The Last Jedi‘s been out for a month now so you know what that means… it’s time for new Star Wars news.

This week’s REALLY BIG THING was everything Star Wars Rebels! The show will be returning on February 19th for three weeks straight of back to back episodes. Everything’s totally going to be fine.

We also got a synopsis for Solo and it’s… uhhh… expected? Yeah, let’s go with that. #TrailerWatch2018

And finally, we end this week’s news blast with sad news. Allison Shearmur, producer for both Rogue One and Solo has passed away at age 53. She also worked on the Hunger Games and her passing is a great loss to the film community.

Review: Bomber Command

It’s hardly surprising that Studio Fun, the same company that published Sabine’s Sketchbook, is also behind last month’s Bomber Command by Jason Fry with illustrations by Cyril Nouvel. This was the Paige Tico Appreciation Book that I’d hoped for since I first saw The Last Jedi as Fry and Nouvel take us through Paige’s journal in the weeks leading up to the Battle of D’Qar. Good news: they absolutely deliver.

In a way, Bomber Command serves as a companion book to Cobalt Squadron but I think it stands nicely on its own. From the very first page, this book had me and it made me love Paige even more than I did before. Immediately, it gets to the heart of who she is as a person: smart, capable as heck, and with her own dreams and fears. Many of these dreams and fears are tied to her younger sister Rose. Paige knows how much her sister looks up to her and how smart she is in her own right even if Rose doesn’t recognize it. It’s almost heartbreaking when you realize that even Paige seems to know that Rose won’t reach her full potential until she steps out of her shadow.

What really makes these Studio Fun journals stand out is the mix of writing styles, illustrations, and supplemental materials. The book offers a really neat view into a bomber with illustrations and pullout inserts of the schematics and instruction manuals that offer a “real” feel to this journal along with an even better sense for how these ships function. Bombers might be slow and lumbering but they’re crucial parts of the fleet that require multiple people to keep them operating smoothly. It’s far from an easy job and definitely not as glamorous as that of a starfighter pilot. Paige includes more than just bomber facts though. She also puts in things like one of Leia’s speeches to the Senate and First Order recruitment material, which help flesh out the galaxy even more. Two years after The Force Awakens, we still don’t really know everything about how the galaxy is and books like this helps us learn more. All of this helps make this journal (and others that Studio Fun has released) under appreciated Star Wars gems.

Above all though, this is a book that does right by Paige Tico. Bomber Command is the perfect book for both younger and older readers who want to know more about her. If you’re going to pick up one book about the Tico sisters, definitely make it this one.