Review: Star Wars #36

Revenge of the Astromech is a really good title. That should be said right off the bat.

Star Wars #36 is the sort of issue that really leans into what Attack of the Clones did with Artoo and shows him in a very heroic, get things done light and I love it. Does it perhaps involve a little suspension of disbelief? Sure but does that detract from my enjoyment? Nope. In a way, this felt like the best sort of payment possible for having to wait so gosh darn long to find out what happened to poor Threepio. Give me the absurd and ridiculous in Star Wars for reasons like this and I shall happily embrace it!

I think I finally figured out what’s been driving me insane about Salvador Larroca’s art since he joined the main Star Wars book. I (for the most part) enjoyed his art of Darth Vader but it hasn’t felt the same here. What I can’t stand is the contrast between his usual art (as seen in Darth Vader and in much of this issue) and the photorealistic faces. They clash when they’re used together and honestly, I’m not a fan of the photorealistic faces to start with. The book looks way nicer when it’s just Artoo rolling through the Star Destroyer causing mayhem than when it also involved some random officer’s strangely detailed face.

Star Wars #36 feels like a return to the norm after two one-off issues but given that it features Artoo Detoo the Hero and the return to a dangling plot line? I’m 100% okay with that.

Star Wars #36: Jason Aaron/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Darth Vader (2017) #5

Listen… it’s been a while since we’ve had a gif review and I had honestly retired the format but sometimes you get a comic issue where words don’t really do it.

 

Darth Vader #5 was just so good that I had to reread it immediately. That doesn’t happen often at all. Just… go read this issue. Even if (and I NEVER say this) you haven’t read the previous four issues. Please. You can thank me later.

Darth Vader #5: Charles Soule/Writer, Giuseppe Camuncoli/Pencils, Cam Smith/Inks, David Curiel/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Rogue One #6

At this point I think it’s very safe to say that both the novelization and comic adaptation of Rogue One were a step above their The Force Awakens counterparts due in great part to their ability to add to the story instead of just regurgitate it.

There’s not much else new to say about this final issue. It’s not a bad thing but, well, we all know how this story ends and there aren’t really many new twists they could throw at us. (Unless Jyn and Cassian magically survived at the end and wouldn’t that throw a certain section of fandom for a loop.) Jody Houser has a knack distilling a story down to its essence without losing any of the emotional impact, which bodes well for her future work on Thrawn. Personally, I’d love to see her take on a non-adaptation Star Wars story at some point.

What was a pleasant surprise was how Emilio Laiso handled the epic battle scenes. The Battle of Scarif was something special to watch on the big screen and something I wasn’t particularly looking forward to in the comic. Instead of trying to recreate the magic of that battle, Laiso opts for dynamic panel layouts that, when paired with Houser’s fast-paced script, keep the reader engaged.

So what’s the final verdict? Yes, the Rogue One comic adaptation is worth your time if it’s something that peaks your interest. It will undoubtedly read even better in trade format. This is another win in Marvel’s book.

Rogue One #6: Writer/Jody Houser, Artist/Emilio Laiso, Colorist/Rachelle Rosenberg, Letterer/Clayton Cowles, Editor/Heather Antos, Supervising Editor/Jordan D. White.

Review: Mace Windu #1

I’m not entirely sure what I expected for the Mace Windu comic but I’m not sure this was it.

Maybe my brain’s not playing entirely fair. For me, the definitive Mace Windu story comes from Legends: Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover. It’s an early Clone Wars era book that puts the Jedi Master through hell and back and tells one hell of a story along the way. It seems like this miniseries may be covering a similar era and so far? It’s just okay. And I actually really like Mace Windu as a character so I’m a little bummed that I don’t love it yet. In the first half of the issue, the Trade Federation droids were the highlight with one gag even make me giggle out loud. Towards the end, it got a little grating. However, I consistently had the droid voice in my head while reading the lines which is a check in the plus column. Master Windu, however, feels very stilted and I definitely don’t hear SLJ’s voice in my head while reading his lines.
The mission itself doesn’t particularly seem to be something worthy of a Jedi Master who sits on the council but the Jedi go where they need to go. This particular team (including Kit Fisto) seems to be not particularly good at the whole stealth thing… which what this mission requires. At least they got  cool outfits? I do, however, appreciate the inclusion of a Miraluka and his apparent infinite source of eye-related humor jokes.
With all of the variety of life in Star Wars, I could certainly see how getting all of the species’ likenesses could be a challenge but there is something just… not right about how some of the aliens are drawn and it’s not because of the artist’s style. Shaak Ti and Yoda raised eyebrows in particular. Otherwise, the art is fine.
While I’m willing to give the book the benefit of the doubt and see where it goes from here, Mace Windu #1 hasn’t impressed me quite yet. We’ll see how the rest of the book goes. Check back with us once the last issue is released for our take on the entire Mace Windu story as we try out a new format for these comic reviews.
Mace Windu #1: 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: Star Wars #35

Every time I remember that Jason Aaron is leaving this book soon, I get majorly bummed out lately even though I’m simultaneously excited to see what Kieron Gillen has in store. The reason? These delightful, self-contained issues we’ve been getting. As teased at the end of the last issue, it’s Han and Chewie’s time to shine and they’ve been tasked by Mon Mothma with smuggling Grakkus the Hutt through Imperial space. (If your memory needs jogging, he’s the hutt with abs who had the lightsaber collection. And that was a sentence I never thought I’d type.)

While maybe we’ve heard the “ugh I don’t know why I’m still here” internal monologue from Han Solo a few too many times already, that doesn’t stop this issue from being fun. More than once, I could hear Harrison Ford’s voice in my head as I read some of the lines. That’s always a good sign. Han and Chewie definitely needed a good team up adventure (especially after Screaming Citadel) and this one delivers. It’s also nice to see him in a story without Leia or Luke for that matter. The princess might be part of the reason why he stuck around but getting a Han story without Leia is refreshing.

One of the neat things about the comics over the last eight months has been seeing all the little references and nods towards Rogue One pop up. Star Wars #35 is no exception. Not only does General Draven get a name check but Mon Mothma is drawn more closely depicting Genevieve O’Reilly than Caroline Blakiston. It makes sense as to why but it’s definitely still something neat to see happening.

The spotlight issues continue to be a spotlight for Jason Aaron’s run on Star Wars and if they continue in this fashion, he’ll be leaving the book on a very high note.

Star Wars #35: Jason Aaron/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra Annual #1

It’s funny how comics work sometimes. I never knew that I wanted Black Krrsantan’s backstory until I read this issue. The first Doctor Aphra Annual actually takes us back in time not only to a certain wookiee’s origin but also to the time between Screaming Citadel and the start of the current auction arc. There’s definitely something to be said for the self-contained story because this? Was pretty darn fun.

Honestly, there isn’t really anything that I didn’t like about this issue. Kieron Gillen puts a neat twist on the typical tragic wookiee backstory and Aphra even gets to use Black Krrsantan’s story to her advantage as he tells his tale to two very interested journalists. (They send their stories out on the Undervine and don’t mess around with the Holonet and its Imperial censors.) It’s obviously Krrsantan’s time to shine but Aphra definitely gets to have some fun along the way too.

I also have to say that I absolutely adored the art by Marc Leming (with an assist from Will Sliney) with colors by Jordan Boyd. There’s something just so great about his style and everything about how the characters looked made me feel like he really got the Star Wars aesthetic. Aphra not only gets another awesome new jacket but everything about the journalists’ looks just feels cool. (And is that Bail Organa’s influence I detect in one of those capes?) They look like Star Wars characters but have distinct styles which isn’t something that every Star Wars artist has been able to pull off.

Like a good Annual should, Doctor Aphra Annual #1 is a fun story that can standalone and is a good taste for hesitant readers into the sorts of hijinks and jobs that Aphra’s team tends to pull. (Just, you know, usually with more focus on Aphra.)

Doctor Aphra Annual #1: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Marc Laming/Artist, Will Sliney/Artist, Jordan Boyd/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Editor, Jordan D. White/Supervising Editor

Review: Poe Dameron #18

The arc with the boys’ trip and the girls’ trip continues and things don’t really go all that well for our favorites in Black Squadron. (Are you surprised? I’m not surprised.) It didn’t take long for Team Capable Ladies to find the First Order acting suitably terrible. While that’s good from Suralinda’s point of view so she can get footage, Jessika is less than content to wait and record while the lives of innocent people are threatened. Meanwhile, Team Guys is inching along on their search for Oddy and not being nearly as successful yet. Point is… women, we get the job done.

I can’t get over how happy this arc is making me especially since it’s bringing characters like Jess and Karé to the forefront again. I love that Jessika Pava isn’t someone who can just sit back and let bad things happen for the greater good. It’s a lovely contrast to the First Order lieutenant who’s arrogant and comfortable in his assertion that the First Order is better than the Empire so obviously they’ll win.

Surprisingly, Oddy turned out to be another highlight of this issue. Honestly, I wasn’t terribly excited about him surviving but his pages end up being oddly delightful? Although admittedly, it feels strange to use that word here but I can’t quite think of a better one.

Mostly importantly, the War Stories arc is fun. Do their missions have weight to them? Definitely. Does the story still press upon you how precarious the Resistance’s continued existence is? Absolutely but it never stops being fun and in Star Wars? That’s crucial.

Poe Dameron #18: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Star Wars #34

It’s not a secret that I wasn’t a fan of the Yoda arc because it just draaaaaagged and made me want to take a nap. It made Screaming Citadel a very welcome reprieve. That said, I wasn’t sure what to expect from these follow up issues. Were we going to get something more like the Yoda arc or more like the far better Nar Shaddaa one? Turns out, the answer was neither and that’s a good thing.

The anthology style is so far really working for Jason Aaron and the main Star Wars book. It’s something that I would have loved to see them continue (with different artists) if Aaron wasn’t going to be handing the reins over to Gillen soon. This go-round, we get a team up between Sana and Lando who has been tragically mostly absent from Star Wars in canon thus far. While we haven’t seen the Han Solo film yet, it makes sense Sana and Lando would have history too. She’s got an insane heist to pull and he’s got the contacts she needs to help pull it off. What could possibly go wrong?

Turns out almost nothing because this story is great. (The art not so much but you’ve already heard my laments about how Larroca draws Sana.) Don’t be fooled: while this is billed as a team up, it’s definitely a Sana story. Lando’s just there to help out because Sana is several steps ahead almost the entire time. It’s awesome getting to see a capable lady kick some ass.

Star Wars #34 is one of those issues that’s both worth picking up and that doesn’t require much prior knowledge of the series. Check it out if you’ve got the time.

Star Wars #34: Jason Aaron/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #11

LISTEN MARVEL. We’re going to get to the talking about the comic in a bit but I have a complaint to register as an Aphra cosplayer. You guys are KILLING ME with these rad outfits you put her in for the covers but then never appear within the pages of the issue. This is so not fair. How am I supposed to make more Aphra costumes when you keep teasing me with these sweet new looks and only a cover to go by?

*ahem* Anyways. About the issue…

Everything’s going to hell at Aphra’s masquerade auction and it’s just going to get worse the more the issue continues and in the next one. This arc is a textbook example of why you don’t let murder droids become bored and then leave them alone. Bad things happen. Very. Bad. Things. Like the spirit of a very angry Jedi being put into the body of a droid with violent capabilities. At the same time, the arc is also a great example of why I love Aphra. Things have a tendency to go wrong around her but she finds a way to adapt to the situation and keep fighting. No one wants to live quite as much as Chelli Aphra. She might not do it how a more traditional hero would but dang does it make it look fun. And dangerous. Can’t forget the dangerous part. It’s why this character has resonated with so many people.

Hold on, I need to put my cosplayer (aviator) hat on again because while I love that Aphra committed to the hidden identity thing enough to wear a wig, there is no way her hair would have been in a bun look that good with some artful framing wisps after being under a wig for however many hours. Alternatively, Star Wars characters must teach us their ways for coping with wig and helmet hair.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that this arc has had me at the edge of my seat and I suspect that the next issue will have me yelling at the comic. Again. Seriously though… it is not going to go well for someone next issue.

Doctor Aphra #11: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Penciler, Marc Deering/Inks, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor