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: Screaming Citadel #1

The Screaming Citadel crossover kicks off today and I’ll just be referring to it as the issue in which everything is delightful and wonderful and nothing hurts. Another potential title is ‘Everything I never knew I wanted until just now’ which would be equally accurate.

The premise is fairly simple. Aphra’s got the artifact with a Force user’s consciousness from the Ordu Aspectu and she needs Luke’s help to convince the Queen of Ktath’atn to activate it. The way Aphra phrases it, it’s a win for everyone. Luke gets a Jedi instructor and Aphra gets a front row seat to history. Of course, it’s not going to be as easy as that and if you think Aphra’s in it purely for the academic knowledge…

What makes this book so darn fun is the interaction between Aphra and Luke. She’s a woman who’s been around the galaxy a few times and sees things in shades of grey while he’s still far closer to being the fluffy-haired farmboy than anything close to a Jedi Knight yet. This isn’t a combination that we got to see much of during Vader Down but it’s possibly one of the most delightful character combinations we’ve gotten in the comics thus far. I sincerely hope that Luke comparing Aphra to Han becomes a running gag.

There’s nothing about this issue that I don’t love and honestly, it’s such peak Gillen that I’m almost surprised that McKelvie’s not drawing it. (Although there’s something quite pretty about Checchetto’s art that I’m a fan of and that definitely works here.) To borrow Gillen’s own words, “it all goes None More Goth” and Aphra and Luke both have a chance to get dressed up all fancy (especially Luke.) Related: I would like to have Aphra’s jacket collection because it appears to be fantastic.

Screaming Citadel starts out strong and grabs the interest from the start. Even if you’ve fallen behind one either Doctor Aphra or Star Wars, I absolutely recommend picking up this crossover because it looks like it’s going to be a fun and wild ride.

Screaming Citadel #1: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Marco Checchetto/Art, Andres Mossa/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Kieron Gillen & Jason Aaron/Story, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Obi-Wan and Anakin #5

Perhaps more so than with any other book, it is a damn shame that Obi-Wan and Anakin comes to an end today and isn’t an ongoing because Charles Soule and Marco Checchetto have knocked it out of the park with every issue. Obi-Wan and Anakin #5 concludes a fantastic story that’s a must read for all Star Wars fans.

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Review: Obi-Wan and Anakin #4

Four issues in and the mystery on Carnelion IV just keeps getting deeper. Out today is Obi-Wan and Anakin #4 by Charles Soule and Marco Checchetto and this book just keeps getting (yep, you guessed it) better and better.

Look. It’s not that I’m not solidly enjoying all the pages of Obi-Wan and Anakin because I am. The situation on Carnelion IV is fascinating and something I want to know more about. Checchetto and Mossa are doing some absolutely beautiful work on those pages. But the Palpatine stuff… hot damn, that’s what makes this book shine. You know those giant omnibuses that have 30+ issues of a comic? Yeah, I would happily spend a day curled up with a book or two of those reading a Soule written comic just about Palpatine, Anakin, and Obi-Wan in the years between the Battle of Naboo and Order 66.  The manipulation is so beautifully done. Pages like this make me see why people find Palpatine to be such an intriguing character. Plus? This may be the first time that someone has, within the story itself, acknowledged how little agency Anakin Skywalker has ever had when it comes to making decisions about his life. (Spoiler alert: he hasn’t gotten to decide anything.) It’s something that has been discussed between fans but it is especially painful to hear Anakin himself actually talk about it.

One of the coolest things about the limited series that Marvel has been doing is how distinct they all feel. It’s been their chance to experiment more especially when it comes to genre. There’s something about this arc that just feels more… science-fiction-y than some of the others. (It’s because of the mechs which are AWESOME.)  Also worth mentioning about this issue is the beautiful work that Checchetto did on the cover. That would look gorgeous as a print or poster.

Obi-Wan and Anakin continues to be a fantastic book and the only thing that makes me reluctant to pick up the next issue next month is that it means this will be coming to an end.

Review: Obi-Wan and Anakin #3

Everyone’s favorite Master/Padawan team is back in Obi-Wan and Anakin #3 by Charles Soule and Marco Checchetto.  It’s a little more of everything that’s made this book so gosh darn good thus far.

Palpatine.  We’re going to start with Palpatine.  Look, I know I said it last time but I’m sad that we can’t get a Palpatine ongoing from Soule.  He is so clearly having the time of his life getting to write these Palpy Flashbacks in this book.  I know he’s already writing the Poe book and a zillion others for Marvel but… oh you mean that even writers have to sleep sometimes?  Alas.  Getting back to the point, it’s fun to watch Palpatine and Anakin interact because while he clearly has an agenda, he doesn’t have to be nearly as subtle because Anakin just doesn’t pick up on the manipulations.  It’s simultaneously delightful to watch Palpatine be the Puppet Master and incredibly sad to watch Anakin be manipulated by someone he trusts.

Back in the current time line, Obi-Wan’s brokered a temporary truce between the waring groups but… okay can people please stop taking advantage and twisting Anakin to their goals?  If you’re not careful, you’re all going to turn that poor boy to the dark side and then you’ll– Oh wait.  Crap.

Checchetto’s art paired with Andres Mossa’s coloring continue to be drop dead gorgeous, by the way.  This is an amazing team who puts out some really gorgeous work.  I hope we get to see more from this pair in the Star Wars universe.

Obi-Wan and Anakin continues to be so enjoyable that I can’t stop wishing it was an ongoing.  (How’s that for an endorsement?)

Review: Obi-Wan and Anakin #2

Do you know what would have been a better title for this lovely comic by Charles Soule and Marco Checchetto? “Obi-Wan and Anakin and HOLY CRAP PALPATINE NO!”

After crash-landing on Carnelion IV, Obi-Wan and Anakin find themselves pulled into the middle of an intense battle between the Open and the Closed. It’s not long before it becomes clear that there’s more going on here than either group is letting on. In the past, young Anakin pays a visit to Chancellor Palpatine.

I wish that I could focus my musings on this issue to be more about the Carnelion IV parts but everything Soule is doing with Palpatine is incredible and he’s not even doing that much. Palpatine’s page time in this book is short but a combination of Soule’s writing and Checchetto’s art packs a hell of a punch. There’s a page that got an honest-to-goodness audible reaction from me and that doesn’t happen every week with comic books.  If Soule wasn’t already lined up to write Poe Dameron after this, I’d be clamoring for a Palpatine book from him.

That’s not to say that the main story isn’t good. I’m curious to see both where it goes and who exactly sent the distress call. There’s also clearly a ton of history between the two people that could likely make for a fascinating tale all on its own. It’s also fun getting to see Master and Padwan work together but also have their moments to shine.

The best compliment that I can pay this comic so far is that it’s not quite what I expected but it’s definitely something that has me impatiently waiting for more every time I finish an issue and if that’s not a solid recommendation from me, I don’t know what is.

Review: Obi-Wan and Anakin #1

Hallelujah we’re getting back into the Prequel Era! And not only that: it’s a largely unexplored area of the Prequels. Set several years after The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan and Anakin #1 by Charles Soule and Marco Checchetto takes a closer look at the master/padawan team during a time when Anakin’s struggling to fit in to the Jedi Order and Obi-Wan’s struggling to do right by his young padawan.

There are some spoilers in this review.

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Review: Shattered Empire

shatteredempire1Shattered Empire by Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto (with additional art by Angel Unzueta and Emilio Laiso) was a heck of a lot of things. The comic contribution to the Journey to The Force Awakens, Shattered Empire takes place in the weeks following the Battle of Endor and lets readers see what the galaxy is like through the eyes of A-Wing pilot Shara Bey.

At New York Comic Con this year, Greg Rucka revealed that his original pitch didn’t actually involve Han, Luke, and Leia and he asked to rewrite his outline once he saw the Phil Noto teaser image that went on to serve as the cover for the first issue. After hearing this, it wasn’t terribly surprising that Shara had a chance to work with each of our favorite heroes in turn. Given how much I liked her though, I would love to have seen whatever his original pitch was just for kicks.

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