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

Review: Poe Dameron #19

I feel like I’m just repeating myself at this point but it bears saying again: War Stories is a very X-Wingy sort of story. That’s X-Wing with a capital X, by the way. As in the X-Wing series.

Why has War Stories made me happy? Oh let us count the ways…

  1. It made the series feel like more of an ensemble piece again
  2. It’s not afraid of humor
  3. This includes bad jokes/puns because our heroes can’t be perfect at everything (LOOKING AT YOU, POE DAMERON)
  4. The use of a holojournalist and propaganda examines a not as often dealt with aspect of war
  5. The new main villain would totally be twirling her mustache if she had one and I mean that in the best way possible
  6. We get illusions to a character’s tragic backstory which leaves us wanting to know more
  7. It tugs at your heartstrings when you least expect it

Poe Dameron #19 is the cap on a very solid arc that has been very Star Wars to the core. There hasn’t really been any moment that’s left me gasping in shock or crying my eyes out in this arc but it’s been fun and I’ve enjoyed the heck out of every minute. Perhaps I’m biased because I adore Jess Pava but I can definitely see this being a story arc that I keep coming back and rereading. Kudos to all involved.

Poe Dameron #19: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Star Wars Annual #3

How are we already to the third Annual of the Star Wars comic? Time has just been flying by! In this latest Annual, Jason Latour tells a Han/Leia story in which they try to find a new Rebel base but something shady that Han did in the past rears its ugly head to cause trouble.

On the surface there’s nothing particularly wrong with this story. It has all the right elements to be an amusing Star Wars tale. As a part of a larger whole, it’s a little less exciting. The pre-ESB Han and Leia dynamic is one that has to be carefully handled or else their bickering can fly into parody territory. Latour doesn’t do it badly but it doesn’t have quite the spark of some of their other interactions that we’ve seen in the not so distant past.

What makes the issue memorable is when Leia sets someone on fire which is really not a sentence I expected to be writing in a Star Wars review but here we are. I’m not even mad.

Bottom line is that the Star Wars Annual #3 is a perfectly fine issue if you’re looking for a one-off story or you just really need your Han and Leia fix but it’s nothing to write home about. This is, however, said with the caveat that if this story ends up tying in to the next story arc more that it’ll be far more of an essential read but I don’t think it will.

Star Wars Annual #3: Jason Latour/Writer, Michael Walsh/Artist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

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