The main Star Wars book never shines more than when Jason Aaron just goes for it and that’s exactly what he does here with the kick off of the much awaited stormtrooper arc. Making his return is Sergeant Kreel from Luke’s misadventure on Nar Shaddaa except now he’s in command of Scar Squad, a group of very deadly Special Commando Advanced Recon stormtroopers. (Bless comic books and their acronyms.)
If you enjoyed the Republic Commando books from Legends, you’ll almost definitely like this issue. They may not be a bunch of Mandalorian raised clones but they are a fairly tight-knit band of extremely deadly men (and possibly women.) The Rebels never stood a chance. Aaron continues the work laid by other Star Wars creators and gives a more human face to the Empire. Between this issue and books like Lost Stars, it’s not hard to understand why someone would be such a fervent believer in the Empire. It’s stability, it’s an opportunity. The Rebel Alliance is either a bunch of freedom fighters or a terrorist organization… all depending on your point of view.
Jorge Molina gets to have some fun on the art front and draw a bunch of different stormtrooper variations. Visually, it’s a neat shorthand to show how elite Scar Squad is– not everyone gets to have their own unique kits. The Molina/Milla team works very nicely for this book and fits right in with the other artists they’ve had on the different arcs so far. And shout out to David Aja for the rad cover! I’ve missed his work on Hawkeye so this is a nice little gem.
Been holding off on diving into the Star Wars comics? Star Wars #21 is the perfect issue to jump in with!
Star Wars #21: Jason Aaron/Writer, Jorge Molina/Artist, Matt Milla/Colorist, Chris Eliopoulos/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
The end of an arc in the main Star Wars book means it’s time for another foray into the journal of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Artist Mike Mayhew returns to team up with Jason Aaron as we jump in our ship and head back to Tatooine.
In theory, the Obi-Wan interludes are about Obi-Wan watching Luke growing up but as we reach the third one, it’s becoming clearer that they’re really about Obi-Wan and Owen Lars and the tenuous relationship between them. Don’t get me wrong: young Luke is enthusiastic and adorable and a breath of life on the page. The shaky and ever evolving understanding between Owen and Obi-Wan is something entirely different. Almost two decades pass between the trilogies and it makes sense that things between them wouldn’t be static. I’m intrigued to see where else this might go especially if Beru gets to play more of a role. (By the way, the flash of her being a total bad ass in this issue was AWESOME.)
Mike Mayhew’s facial expressions are probably the strength of his work in this book. They tell stories entirely on their own on his very polished and pretty pages. I wasn’t overly fond of how Black Krrsantan looks more like King Kong than a wookiee in the face on one page but that’s a relatively minor quibble. That said, Mayhew definitely knows how to frame a heroic shot.
The more the Star Wars team publishes these Kenobi Interludes, the more I enjoy them. They continue to be a palette cleanser of sorts between arcs but in the most positive way. It’s a nice way to take a deep breath and let it out again before we dive into our heroes’ next adventure. That said… bring on the stormtroopers!
Star Wars #20: Jason Aaron/Writer, Mike Mayhew/Artist, Chris Eliopoulos/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
You know what book I would read? I would read a book about Leia, Sana, and Aphra running around the galaxy as a rad girl gang who kick butt and take names and take no crap from anyone. This story arc has been so much fun because of the interactions between the ladies and I have loved every minute of it. Yes, even those minutes when Han and Luke were literally herding nerfs.
If you thought like I did that the Star Wars Annual #1 was a throw away story… we were wrong. I’m sorry for doubting you, Marvel. We won’t go into specifics here but everything about it is very well handled. Speaking of which, Jason Aaron’s handle on Luke has been a highlight of the book especially in this issue. He actually feels and sounds like a 19 year old kid. He doesn’t feel quite as seasoned and worldly (galaxyly?) as the rest of the trio because, well, he shouldn’t.
This has really been Leia’s chance to shine. She got some fantastic moments in Vader Down but this arc has been 100% about her ability to take charge and kick butt in a crisis. More importantly, it does so without making her feel out of character. This just feels like another aspect of her in addition to her political side instead of being a completely different character as some writers have been prone to do.
Oh and hey. Let’s chat a little about how this issue essentially confirms that Sana is probably bisexual and Aphra is either bisexual or lesbian. I am 100% here for non-straight ladies of color so thank you very much for this, Jason Aaron and Marvel. I would also be 100% here for that backstory that Sana tells Leia not to ask about… wink wink. It’s really nice to see that the commitment to diversity is something that’s consistent across all Star Wars mediums and I’m glad we live in a world where we can no longer count all of the LGBT characters on our fingers.
We get another Kenobi issue next month and then it’s on to some very dangerous looking stormtroopers. As always, I can’t wait to see where the creative team goes with this! Truly we live in a golden age of Star Wars comics.
The mystery deepens! Star Wars #18 by Jason Aaron and Leinil Yu continues the Original Trilogy adventure. Well, maybe it’s an adventure of Han and Luke. It’s a fight for their lives for Leia, Sana, and Aphra. Let’s hear it for the laaaaaaaadies!
I love that this comic essentially smashes the Bechdel Test on every other page. As mentioned in prior reviews, Leia and Sana have long since moved past the whole Han Solo thing and their relationship is now based entirely their own interactions. Aphra is a fun wrench in the mix although after a certain exchange, I’m now fairly sure that this is not the first time that Aphra and Sana have interacted in the past and that is a story I’m dying to know. Perhaps my favorite part of this trio is how Leia is (as usual) the voice of reason who just wants them to get out of this alive so can we leave the in-fighting for later and just do as she says, please and thank you?
Han and Luke have definitely had the B-story this arc (which is fine by me) but it hasn’t been without its charm. Aaron has shown that he has a very strong grasp on how to write fresh-off-the-farm Luke Skywalker who is believable without feeling like an easy stereotype. The older/younger brother relationship between him and Han is the actual best.
The big mystery however comes from the prison’s attacker. I won’t spoil it for any readers who have yet to pick up the issue but who is he and how in space does he know that??? I’ll be intrigued to see how many answers Aaron and Yu give us before the story’s end… if they give us any.
The Rebel Jail story arc concludes next month and after an issue like this? I can’t wait to see how it goes!
Jason Aaron and Leinil Yu are back with Star Wars #17 in which the boys get into trouble and the ladies team up while also in a lot of trouble. Okay but actually… are our heroes ever not in trouble?
Spoilers after the jump. Continue reading
It feels like it’s been ages since we last saw our heroes so Star Wars #16 by Jason Aaron and Leinil Yu is a welcome return to the Rebel Alliance. While Han and Luke are off making poor life decisions with the Rebellion’s money, the ladies have far more pressing matters at hand.
How great is it that Sana Starros isn’t just a one-arc character but is instead returning in this issue? Actually, how great is it period that the majority of this issue revolves around Leia, Sana, and Aphra? The Han and Luke parts are fine but I could have been perfectly happy with an issue or even an entire arc focused just on the women. Unsurprisingly, Aphra is not going quietly into the night even though she’s been captured. While I continue to be very concerned about her safety and continued living (looking at you, Darth Vader,) I love that this issue shows that she hasn’t lost any of her fire. Leia has an interesting line about how the Empire will scour the galaxy for her which may seem innocuous but shows how much the Rebels don’t know about Aphra and Vader’s side project.
Speaking of Leia, the interactions between her and Sana build wonderfully upon when we last saw them on Nar Shaddaa. They may not be friends but they can work together towards a common goal and really not give a crap about Han Solo. In fact, it’s rather refreshing that he never really even comes up in their conversation. At the same time, it’s going to be interesting to watch and see where her story goes. Will she also go for being in it for the money to actually actively supporting the Rebellion or will the payday always be her driving force?
Both on-goings are moving along nicely from the aftermath of Vader Down and Star Wars #16 definitely gets a recommendation from me.
It’s never easy to follow up an amazing crossover event and so Star Wars wisely chose to include another entry from Obi-Wan’s journal before moving onwards. It’s something I was hoping Marvel would do and I definitely hope that they continue to do so. However, I’m a little conflicted by Star Wars #15 by Jason Aaron and Mike Mayhew.
I enjoyed the issue but something about it just didn’t quite click like the previous one did. Let’s start with the good things. The issue lets readers get to see what Luke was like as a child and how Obi-Wan continued to watch over him from afar. Getting to see a relatively young Luke with his enthusiasm for flying and already strong desire to get off that desert rock is neat as heck and not just because of the easy Anakin comparisons. It’s also cool to see Owen and Kenobi actually interact even if the depth of Owen’s anger seems rather extreme when compared to his personality in Attack of the Clones and A New Hope. That said, it’s not something bad. People can change a lot over the course of two decades and it would be interesting to see the evolution of Owen Lars.
What didn’t quite work for me was the artwork. I like Mayhew’s work well enough and really dug what he did with Dark Horse’s The Star Wars but it felt too clean and too pretty for this sort of story. The previous Kenobi story had art that felt rougher and more appropriate for a backwater planet like Tatooine. Story-wise, this also didn’t have quite the one-shot umfph that the other did as it feels too open ended. It would’ve been better as a part of an arc.
End of the day? More Obi-Wan is always a good thing.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend… or just not my enemy right now and maybe we’ll work together for a few minutes and try not to die? You know, I’m not entirely sure who the Rebels can rely on this issue except themselves because there are now a lot of interested, violent parties involved. Out today is Star Wars #14, the last contribution to Vader Down by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato. This issue, more than the previous ones, is about the match ups: Chewbacca versus Krrsantan, Vader versus Commander Karbin, Luke versus a lot of stormtroopers.
The sentiment that the current Star Wars wants to brush the Prequels under the rug has been circulating through fandom lately and the current state of the comics couldn’t prove that feeling more wrong. Commander Karbin versus Darth Vader is the next generation version of General Grievous versus Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s a What If? situation that not only makes perfect sense but gives us a little more insight into Palpatine. It shows that he’s willing to try a similar approach again and see if the results differ. Perhaps he’s the real mad scientist.
This is also the issue that made me realize that although Leia hasn’t had the biggest role in this crossover, this is certainly as much her story as it is anyone’s. Han may have the more flashy part and Vader may be in search of Luke but more than anything, this has felt like a faceoff between Vader and Leia and I can’t wait to see how this concludes.
Star Wars #14 is yet another strong part of the Vader Down story and gets a solid recommendation from me. Why aren’t you reading this yet?
Vader Down continues this week as Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato take over again and oh my word, this issue is fun! Despite the lovely cover by Mark Brooks, there’s not much of Leia or Vader in this issue. Instead, it focuses mostly on Dr. Aphra and the Murder Bots versus Han Solo and Chewbacca. The stakes? Luke Skywalker and Artoo.
The entire issue is just delightful. At times, it’s actually incredibly funny despite the decidedly unfunny circumstances but it still works. We get BeeTee versus Artoo! (And you thought Artoo and Chopper were different…) We get Chewbacca versus Triple Zero… aka a protocol droid that he doesn’t feel obliged to not rip apart! And finally, we get Han Solo versus Dr. Aphra which is everything I ever wanted but never knew to ask for despite us as readers being told that she’s a dark mirror version of Indiana Jones from the start.
Star Wars #13 is a bit of a change from the rest of the Vader Down event so far. It’s a nice breather from being terrified of Vader (although the next issue promises to do that again.) While some more uptight readers may be put off by some of the humor that verges a little more on slapstick, I found it refreshing and just plain fun. When else are you going to get to see Chewie go after a droid and [REDACTED]? Aaron even nails the essence of Han Solo when he makes an ever so slight miscalculation while being so smug and certain.
I also have to take a moment and take Deodato for not only rocking the hell out of this book so far but for also drawing Aphra wearing that rad jacket that Adi Granov used for the cover of Darth Vader #3. It’s finally in the book!
Just like Marvel promised us, Vader Down continues to be an awesome crossover event and definitely one that you should be picking up.
Yeah. That’s the best way to describe the opening issue of Vader Down.
Story Time! At Dragon Con this year, I was lucky enough to partake in one of the last panels of the convention titled ‘Palpatine’s Plan’ in which we discussed… you can figure that one out. During the course of the panel, I found myself having to continuously defend Darth Vader and the fact that he is powerful as hell and a serious force to be reckoned with. If I had had this comic issue on hand, pulling it out would have been the equivalent of a mic drop because holy hell is Vader a powerhouse.
It’s not like we the fans don’t know (for the most part) that Vader is strong in the Force and terrifying to many a person. It’s not like we don’t know that Vader/Anakin is an amazing pilot. Jason Aaron takes both of those facts and reminds you in a way that you will not be forgetting any time soon. You do not mess with Darth Vader whether he’s in a TIE or on the ground.
When you take a step back, Vader Down is certainly a set up issue but it never feels like it while you’re reading. So yes: Vader, Luke, Leia, Han, and Aphra are all being maneuvered on to Vrogas Vas but this is explosive exposition. It’s a great hand off to Kieron Gillen and I absolutely cannot wait to see how these two gentlemen handle the next five issues of this story.
Mike Deodato knocks it out of the freaking park with his art on this issue and uses his four two-page spreads incredibly strategically and for great dramatic effect. Some of these would look amazing as full sized posters. Deodato also draws a pretty fantastic Han Solo. I hope we see more of his work in the Star Wars universe.
This is definitely one of my favorite single issues from the Marvel Star Wars team thus far and you should absolutely pick it up and the rest of the storyline.