Review: Star Wars #39

When a Star Wars comic is set on Jedha not too long after Rogue One, you have to expect that there will be references to the film but that doesn’t stop me from grinning from ear to ear when I see Jyn Erso’s name in print.

I appreciate that Kieron Gillen is making sure that we know that Rogue One’s mission was not forgotten amongst members of the alliance even in the wake of the victory at Yavin 4. The Partisans have not been forgotten either which is definitely a good thing to help give the rebel side some depth. (Still waiting for word on the Dreamers though…)

There are two particularly noteworthy parts in this issue that highlight some of our favorite heroes. Leia has her moment as the persuasive Rebel Leader who is here to get things done but not so much to take people’s crap. Luke, on the other hand, seems to be on a mission of discovery whether he realizes it or not. Jedha is the perfect place for this given the presence of both kyber crystals and the former Temple of the Whills. This offers a nice taste of Luke the Jedi Hero in a way that makes me think of the concept of the Legends of Luke Skywalker novel. (That’s a good thing, by the way.)

Assorted Thoughts:

  • The same thing I have to say about the art all the time
  • I’m definitely liking Ubin and hope we see more of her
  • Trios must have an angle and I don’t know what it is yet
  • Han has some great lines but otherwise takes a backseat

Star Wars #39: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Guru e-FX/Colorist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Captain Phasma

Fall 2017 should probably be known as the Season of Phasma. First the Phasma novel graced our shelves and now the fantastic Captain Phasma comic by Kelly Thompson and Marco Checchetto is here in collected trade paperback form. By their powers combined, they give Star Wars fans a better sense of just what it is that makes Phasma tick and why you should never ever be on her bad side.

Despite the comic book being marketed as how Phasma gets out of the trash compactor, the comic spends absolutely no time on the particulars and the good Captain leaves Starkiller Base behind entirely by the end of Issue 1. If we’ve learned anything over the last few months, it is that Phasma will do whatever it takes to survive and she doesn’t care who gets in her way. In this particular situation, that means lowering the shield and then subsequently erasing any proof that she did so and hunting down Lieutenant Rivas so he can’t ruin her secret. Along the way, she recruits pilot TN-3465 and an entire society on a planet that reminds her of Parnassoss. Obviously this is going to go well for everyone involved.

While the comic can certainly stand on its own, reading Delilah Dawson’s novel beforehand really adds to the experience especially in the brief, several panel flashback to Siv, Torben, and Frey that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. Knowledge of how Phasma handles situations gives the comic a sense of impending doom throughout. Her time on Luprora serves as a nice mirror to her final days on Parnassos.

On a non-Phasma note, I rather liked TN-3465. She’s a TIE pilot who ends up getting pulled into this adventure whether she wants to be or not. While she’s just a side player in Phasma’s plan, it’s interesting to consider what this mission might feel like for her. Is this the first time she’s ever worn clothes that weren’t First Order issued? Does she actually have a name that her squad mates use? Would she have even made it off of Starkiller Base if Phasma hadn’t ordered her to fly them away? She’s a nice addition to a book that helps bring a more human note to Phasma’s story. (She and Siv should be friends.)

Marco Checchetto continues to be a delightful artist choice for Star Wars especially when they let him draw the slightly more weird. Checchetto’s style combined with Mossa’s colors really are a winning combination that I hope we continue to see in this universe.

Captain Phasma is a fast, four issue read that’s worth your time and money for both the story and the artwork. Pick up this in tandem with the novel and you won’t regret it.

Captain Phasma: Kelly Thompson/Writer, Marco Checchetto/Artist, Andres Mossa/Colorist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Darth Vader (2017) #8

Let’s start off where we really need to: the cover. This comic has been knocking it out of the park with covers but Giuseppe Camuncoli and Francesco Mattina have really outdone themselves this time. Just sell this as prints and I’m fairly sure I’ll buy twenty and give them to all of my Vader friends.

Darth Vader #8 continues the stories of Darth Vader in the early days of his Jedi hunting and Jocasta Nu as she attempts to retrieve something important from the Jedi archives. Vader is already adapting to being in Typical Vader form by choking officers. Meanwhile, the Grand Inquisitor isn’t treating the books of the Jedi Library with proper respect which is really irking the former Librarian who’s supposed to be on a clandestine mission. (What could possibly go wrong here?)

The real show stopper in the issue is a two-page spread inside Vader’s mind as he meditates. The art shifts in style just enough to show what it’s like in there. What makes this special though is the revelation that Vader doesn’t quite think that his lost limbs are a part of him and that he doesn’t feel them through the Force like he does the rest of his body. It’s an incredibly impactful page.

Jocasta Nu’s plot line is no snooze either. She’s on a mission that she thinks is definitely worth the risk. This comic has done more to characterize her and make her feel like a real person than her other appearances thus far. It’s hard not to appreciate someone who is willing to do whatever she has to in order to insure the continuation of the Jedi order.

The only thing that has me scratching my head is how quickly the Empire adapted the traditional Imperial uniforms. I wouldn’t have expected to see ISB tunics so quickly.

Bottom line? Darth Vader #8 is worth the price of admission for this gorgeous cover and a fantastic two-page spread alone but stay for Jocasta Nu being fantastic.

Darth Vader #8: Charles Soule/Writer, Giuseppe Camuncoli/Pencils, Daniele Orlandini/Inks, David Curiel/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #14

Say whaaaaat?

(I see what you did with this arc title, Marvel. I see you.)

Doctor Aphra #14 kicks off a new “year” for the not so good doctor who is doing considerably worse than she was the last time we saw her relaxing on a beach in a fabulous robe with a drink in hand. Also doing worse than the last time we saw her, Tolvan who has been demoted from Captain to Lieutenant.

As far as season starts go, this is a pretty good one. There has definitely been a lot going on in both Aphra and Tolvan’s lives since last we saw them and I particularly hope we get to see how Aphra got to be where she is whether it’s in flashbacks or in future dialogue. This is definitely a fantastic way to kick start a new storyline. I also hope that it leads to us seeing more of Tolvan as well.

I mostly like Emilio Laiso’s art on the book with the exception of a page with two jarringly posed panels that feel a little too sexualized for my tastes. On the other hand, I highly appreciate that we got to see multiple non-white male Imperials. I’m also fond of the facial expressions that Laiso draws.

Doctor Aphra #14 might not be the best place for a brand new reader to jump on board but it’s definitely the kick off of what will undoubtedly be a neat as heck story.

Doctor Aphra #14: Kieron Gillen and Si Spurrier/Writers, Emilio Laiso/Artist, Rachelle Rosenberg/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Star Wars #38

It’s a brand new day for the main Star Wars book as Kieron Gillen slides in to take the reins and I’m like 99% sure that all of my favorites are going to die because I spent all my Gillen Good Luck on keeping Aphra alive. Just like he’s been doing over in Doctor Aphra, Gillen is already working with the events of Rogue One as our heroes venture over to Jedha. Needless to say, things aren’t doing great there in the wake of the Death Star and the Empire is trying to mine whatever kyber crystals it can from the ruins. The Rebels arrive looking for the remains of Saw’s Partisans while the Empire brings in a specialist to try and solve its mining issues. Things are likely not going to go very well for either of them very soon. Shocker, right?

While Jason Aaron’s run was solidly good, Gillen’s new angle for the book can only be a good thing for the series. He’s not a stranger to our core crew, having written them during the two crossovers, but seeing his take on the heroes for once will undoubtedly be fun. There’s already been a tie in to his Vader series that was unexpected yet incredibly welcome.

On the other hand… the art on this book continues to be an exercise in frustration for me. I like Larroca’s style well enough but the moment the faces jarringly slide into photorealism, I’m not a fan. There are at least several panels where the faces clash so much with the rest of the art that they almost look pasted in.

A few assorted thoughts:

  • No really. That Vader character has me grinning from ear to ear
  • Will the Dreamers be brought up? Why did the Dreamers and this group split?
  • Ubin Des has the potential to be a really neat character
  • Will the Guardians of the Whills just die out as an order now that there is no temple to guard? If so, that’s incredibly sad.

All in all, a good start to a new era of Star Wars comics. It’s most definitely a good place to jump onboard if you haven’t already.

Star Wars #38: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Guru e-FX/Colorist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Darth Vader (2017) #7

Okay. Now we’re talking.

Most of the time, I tend to enjoy the first issue in a new story arc but it often doesn’t quite catch me until the inevitable cliffhanger at the end. Darth Vader #7 had me from page one. In a thus far fantastic run, this would have been my favorite issue so far if it hadn’t been for #5.

We start with Vader and his newly acquired Inquisitors who are in for some very unsympathetic training to say the least. It’s also entirely possible that, in his own twisted way, Vader thinks it’s only fair that these lesser dark siders have to pay at least some of the price that he did too. Actually, he sounds rather like Anakin at times when discussing this. It’s not long before Vader learns who his next Jedi target is: Jocasta Nu.

Let’s be real here: Jocasta isn’t the most respected Jedi either in or out of the universe. (Although sidebar: respect and appreciate your librarians, everyone!) To most fans, she’s just that line in Attack of the Clones about the planet not existing. Even Palpatine is simultaneously dismissive of her while also recognizing that she poses a threat. Knowledge my friends, is power. Honestly, she makes Yoda look like a lazy bum with everything she’s accomplished so far after the Jedi Purge. I desperately want to know the story of how she escaped and I can’t wait to see how she handles things in the next issue. She’s a delight thus far.

Another character who’s benefiting from this comic is the Grand Inquisitor. We only got one season with him in Rebels but his backstory and interest in knowledge is fascinating. I can’t help but think this’ll be an point of contention with either Vader or Palpatine further down the line.

Are you reading this Darth Vader comic yet? No? You really should be.

Darth Vader #7: Charles Soule/Writer, Giuseppe Camuncoli/Pencils, Daniele Orlandini/Inks, David Curiel/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Poe Dameron #20

Black Squadron: Not actually doing all that great
Lor San Tekka: Also not doing all that great

Poe Dameron #20 emphasizes that the Resistance is probably lucky that they even have a base and any matching uniforms. In terms of size and strength, they definitely aren’t on par with the Rebel Alliance. The Resistance is closer to being like just one of the original rebel cells before they became a part of the larger group… albeit it with more famous names attached. It’s fantastic how the books and comics can help flesh out the galaxy during the time.

Wait. Let me amend my first: Poe’s actually doing pretty good. He’s got his fancy x-wing back! Snap, Karé, and Jess though? Not so much. I won’t spoil those specifics for you but I will say that there is a delightfully meta BB-8 joke that made me giggle.

Gotta say though… “Legend Found” as an arc title does make me wonder curious about the future of the comic. We’ve always assumed that Jakku was the first time that Poe was meeting Lor San Tekka but given the title and this set up issue… maybe that’s not the case which in turn raises a lot of questions about that meeting. Perhaps “This will begin to make things right” doesn’t mean what we’ve always thought.

“Legend Found” is a nice start to the arc and while I’m certainly excited to finally get to know Lor San Tekka a little more, I think I’m even more excited about getting to see Black Squadron fly a mission while trying to deal with their own personal struggles. (Jessika Pava. I just want to see more Jess Pava all the time.)

Poe Dameron #20: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Star Wars #37

It’s an end of an era today as Star Wars #37 is Jason Aaron’s last issue of Star Wars. In honor of the occasion, let’s take a moment to appreciate what a fantastic job he’s done with the book. While I haven’t loved every thing he’s done with the book, he’s written 37 incredibly solid issues of story and I’m sad to see him go especially after this last bunch of issues.

As for Star Wars #37 itself… Sergeant Kreel is not a very happy man and he’s not going to be anything even remotely close to happy until he smashes the Rebels into tiny bits for the glory of the Empire. This… is not good for our heroes or the Rebel Alliance. In a way, this issue is the most surprising way that Aaron could have wrapped up his run because he doesn’t end it like one might expect. It’s open enough to make me wonder if Kieron Gillen might pick up some of these plot elements in his run. Part of what I like about this issue though is that it does surprise me while also giving us a fantastic moment for the Skywalker twins. It’s a moment that feels like both a resolute ending and beginning.

The true highlight of this issue though is the back up story, “The Sand Will Provide” by Jason Aaron and Dash Aaron with art by Andrea Sorrentino. It’s one last hurrah for the excellently executed one-shot stories from Obi-Wan’s journey and is the simple tale of a young tusken raider. It’s a simple story yet beautiful within that simplicity. It’s also oddly sweet and feels like the perfect note for Jason Aaron to end his run on. And honestly, what better note could we end this review on than to praise the issue’s last few pages?

Star Wars #37: Jason Aaron/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Darth Vader (2017) #6

It’s interesting how an issue with a ton of action can also be an issue where not much happens. The series so far has left Vader a little worse for the wear and honestly, he probably needs a few minutes where not much happens. (Too bad he doesn’t get much of one.)

This will be one of the spoiler filled reviews. Just a warning. Continue reading