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

Rebels Review: Rebel Assault

Pew pew pew pew pew!

This week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels fulfilled a lot of fan wishes while marking the end of the first half of the fourth and last season of the show. It seems odd that we’re already at the mid-season hiatus when the show has only been back for four weeks and seven episodes total. While it’s nice to have episodes air back to back, it feels like this season is barreling to a close and I’m not sure how exactly everything is going to be able to tie up by the end of the season. Regardless of those concerns, this episode of Rebels did a lot of things well and only missed the mark for me a few times. It’s without a doubt my favorite episode of the season so far, and one of my top favorites overall. More spoilery thoughts after the cut!

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Rebels Review: Kindred and Crawler Commanders

I own it. The Force mysticism threads that run through Rebels just don’t work for me.

When this series began, I was hopeful we’d be seeing more of the Rebel cells and grassroots resistance of the to the Empire. To be certain we’ve got that in chunks here and there, but so often this show just gets bogged down by asking questions about the Force that likely will never get answers. That’s certainly fine, but it worked better in The Clone Wars than it does in Rebels. At the very least, it worked better in the first couple seasons of Rebels than it works now. We came into season four with a setup that it’s finally time to see the Rebellion mustering. Every now and then we start getting glimpses that we’re going to finally see more of the early Rebel Alliance.

But then we get derailed to go on another trail to Mortis-up the Force again. What does any of this mean? Who knows, but here are some nifty visuals.

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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: The Legends of Luke Skywalker

There are lots of stories about Luke Skywalker. Some of them might even be true. – Ulina

The Legends of Luke Skywalker by Ken Liu is one of the few books of the new canon to be about Luke Skywalker, much less feature him as a character. As such, it was pretty much guaranteed that I would enjoy this book on some level. However, I was surprised by how much I loved it. It’s one of my favorite canon novels, right alongside The Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry, another middle grade novel about Luke. Weapon and Legends share another similarity, in that they both feature framing stories in which Luke is portrayed as a mythical hero. The difference is that Legends never outright uses Luke’s POV; instead, six crew members of the ship Wayward Current exchange stories about Luke while on the way to Canto Bight. It’s a novel that portrays Luke as a folk hero, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever read another book that does as good a job depicting Luke’s relationship with the Force and the galaxy at large. Which is quite the feat, considering we never get inside Luke’s head.

The framing story follows a set of deckhands who help a stowaway escape detection and get off the Wayward Current into Canto Bight. They exchange stories as a way to distract themselves from the horribleness of jumping into the bilge to hide. (Sound familiar?) What better way to pass the time than discuss one of the most famous and mysterious figures in the galaxy, Luke Skywalker?

Spoilers after the cut:

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Rebels Review: The Occupation and Flight of the Defender

The past two episodes of Star Wars Rebels marked a departure from the previous two episodes. First, unlike “Heroes of Mandalore” and “In the Name of the Rebellion,” we saw a return to the half-hour episode format. Second, the Ghost crew returns to Lothal for the first time since last season’s “An Inside Man.” Much has changed on Lothal during the Imperial occupation, and Mon Mothma has finally granted Ezra the mission he craves: to save his homeworld.

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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