Review: Storms of Crait

Without a doubt, Crait was one of the most visually striking things within The Last Jedi. Fields of salt covering red crystals? Yep, I’m on board. When the movie revealed that The Last Jedi was an old Rebel Alliance base, I was excited for this comic to learn more about it. After reading it… Still intrigued even if it wasn’t exactly what I expected.

Learning not to cling to expectations is something that The Last Jedi taught us but that I’m still struggling to truly learn. I expected to see the Rebel Alliance hang around Crait for a while and I also expected to see Amilyn Holdo pop up. Neither of those things happened but that didn’t stop this from being a fun ride.

It’s still sorta Christmas so I’m going to bullet point this thing:

  • WEDGE FREAKING ANTILLES. There hasn’t been enough of Wedge in the new canon and it’s awesome getting to see Acker and Blacker bring him a little more to the forefront.
  • Leia and Luke don’t forget their families/upbringings. Leia’s very aware of what she learned from Bail and if you think you can make the farmboy forget the moisture farm just by taking him off planet…
  • Scar Squadron: Not actually all that great
  • Leia’s Outfit: Actually pretty great
  • 100% here for Mayhew drawing the men of the Rebellion with ripped shirts and jackets.

Is Storms of Crait the most ground-breaking Star Wars story ever? Nah. Is it an effective one-shot that gives you a fun The Last Jedi tie in while also being easily accessible for new comic readers? Absolutely.

Star Wars: Storms of Crait: Ben Acker & Ben Blacker/Writers, Mike Mayhew/Artist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Poe Dameron #22

Poe Dameron #22 is masterful.

When I first started reading it, I figured that perhaps this issue would hit me a little harder after seeing The Last Jedi. After all, much of who Poe Dameron was in the latest film made so much more sense when you had this comic run in the back of your brain. While that level of realization was there, that wasn’t the start of the show. No, that would be Charles Soule’s writing.

It seems fitting that an issue released so close to the anniversary of Carrie Fisher’s passing features Leia narrating a plan as a framing device. Of course she has a plan to get Lor San Tekka out: this is Leia Organa we’re talking about here. Her plan is a heist because a woman picks up a thing or two thanks to being married to a notorious smuggler and being part of a rebellion since she was a teenager. And yeah, it’s a good plan.

Aside from the masterful weaving, the other great part about this issue is that it gives everyone a minute to shine. Yes, it’s definitely Leia’s show but it won’t succeed without them. Admittedly, I’d like to slap Snap for his continuing self-pity over being dumped by Karé but I’m hardly alone there. (Seriously buddy, this is not how you get a girl back.) The OTP that I’m truly invested in is Jess getting a droid who sticks around. Even Poe gets a particularly good role in this plan.

I won’t spoil any of the twists and turns for you but needless to say, Poe Dameron #22 is a comic issue that you need to read.

Poe Dameron #22: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #15

I can’t say I was expecting to yelp “Aphra!” while reading this issue and yet I did.

Thankfully, I seem to be getting my wish regarding more Tolvan as she makes Imperial bureaucracy work for her and finds her way into more trouble than she probably wanted. That’s just a side effect of being intrigued by the one and only Chelli Lona Aphra. I could write an entire essay about how Tolvan literally dreams about Aphra rescuing her but I’ll spare you. (But Tolvan, honey, you have to know that this won’t end well.)

Unfortunately, Aphra has way bigger problems to deal with and by bigger, I mean more metallic and homicidal. Triple Zero is blackmailing her into working for his mob and if she doesn’t, he’ll let Vader know that she’s still alive. It’s a crazy script flip on the Aphra and the Murder Droids dynamic that we grew so used to during Darth Vader and the early part of this series. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure what to think when Gillen and Spurrier put the idea before us but it’s growing more and more on me as a way to keep the book fresh and not just a continuous series of wacky shenanigans. (Not that I would have been terribly opposed to that.)

I’m liking Emilio Laiso’s art more and more especially since we got so many different aliens and characters in this arc. If we don’t get to see more of the droideka, I’m going to be very disappointed.

Doctor Aphra seems intent on bringing Tolvan and Aphra back together and I can’t wait to see how that happens in future issues!

Doctor Aphra #15: 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 #40

I’ve decided that all I want from Kieron Gillen’s Star Wars is more Skywalker twin interactions.

Queen Trios and the Empire continue their efforts to drill all of the kyber out of Jedha and the rebels continue to have somewhat strained relations with what’s left of the Partisans. However, things are slightly less than harmonious between even some of our heroes…

Spoilers after the cut. Continue reading

Review: Darth Vader (2017) #9

Jocasta Nu is officially a bad ass.

Perhaps she’s not a match for the Grand Inquisitor in a lightsaber duel but she knows how to hold her own. While the Jedi Order seems fine with letting their Knights have their own areas of specialty, they definitely make sure that everyone knows how to fight. In this case, that’s a very good thing. This particular story arc in the Darth Vader comic is doing wonders not just for Jocasta Nu’s characterization but also the Grand Inquisitor’s. He doesn’t seem to be entirely at ease with taking orders from Vader yet… especially when they’re contrary to what he wants to do.

But Jocasta… Listen, this arc should be required reading for anyone who wants to reduce her down to a snarky sentence about her scene in Attack of the Clones. Jocasta didn’t have to return to the Jedi Temple and neither did she have to dedicate herself to trying to ensure the knowledge of the Order endures. It’s incredibly brave of her to return. At the same time, the arc shows her weakness: she can’t stand to see the books and knowledge that she cares so deeply about read and mistreated by someone with no right to them.

Camuncoli’s art continues to be delightful. I will admit to giggling a fair bit at the first page in which Vader stands in the back of a speeder while two others drive it with his cape billowing in the wind. Could he possibly be any more dramatic? (The answer is likely yes: this is the man who was once Anakin Skywalker, after all.)

Are you reading this book yet? You should be.

Darth Vader #9: 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 #21

Congratulations to Charles Soule and Angel Unzueta for creating a comic page that made me audibly gasp really, really loudly.

It’s a relatively quiet issue for Black Squadron. They’re present, of course, and Poe, Snap, and Jess all have some nice moments but the real focus this month is on Leia Organa and Lor San Tekka. Poor Lor is imprisoned thanks to breaking and entering in search of knowledge and while Leia might be looking to find adequate storage and protection for her birth mother’s gowns, she definitely has an alternative agenda going on. Come on, it’s General Organa. She’s leading the Resistance. You don’t really think she’s just there to store dresses, do you?

This is actually something that I really like about this book. While Poe’s obviously the focus, Soule isn’t afraid to pull back and let other characters take and/or share the spotlight at times. It worked really well in the arc where the guys and girls split up and it works rather well in this issue too. Also, it certainly doesn’t hurt that this arc has thus far been a stellar example of how to incorporate Prequel elements in the Sequel era. After all, it’s one big galaxy.

Assorted Thoughts:

  • Jess’s trouble with droids has shifted from being a funny joke to a genuine thing that makes me want to hug her
  • I just don’t care about Snap/Karé and their troubles
  • That lake gown. THAT LAKE GOWN
  • Phil Noto’s cover is drop dead gorgeous

Poe Dameron #21 keeps doing a lot of things right and I can’t wait to see where this arc goes.

Poe Dameron #21: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

 

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