Review: Doctor Aphra #9

Forget hello: they had me at the cover. Don’t get me wrong: I love Aphra for being, well, her but seeing her in a fancy dress just makes me smile. (I have a weakness and I will not apologize for it.) Tragically, neither Aphra nor Krrsantan wear their fancy cover duds within the pages of the book but I suppose what they do wear partially makes up for it with what their fancywear actually looks like. Emphasis on partially.

Part I of ‘Doctor Aphra and the Enormous Profit’ continues the plot that’s been driving the entire book thus far. The Screaming Citadel plan didn’t quite work as she intended and so now she’s going to sell the Immortal Rur to the highest bidder. Because credits. However… there’s a twist. Which I will not spoil for you. (I will say that it made me drop the comic and shout a swear word when I read it.)

One of the neat things about Doctor Aphra is that it gets to show us more of the galaxy’s underworld, something we haven’t seen as much of in the new canon. This underworld also extends past bounty hunters. The fact that Aphra’s made them all dress up is just a bonus. It’s a big galaxy and it’s nice when Star Wars shows us a little more of it.

This issue also reminds us that Team Aphra doesn’t work together because of the Power of Friendship. They work together because to have to (for whatever reason it might be.) This isn’t a group of people like our heroes who will bail each other out because they care. It’s a contrast that’s most definitely going to come back with a vengeance. Undoubtedly, this is something we’ll see more of as the book progresses.

The doctor is in again and I’m very anxious to see what happens to her next. Very. Very. Anxious.

Doctor Aphra #8: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Penciler, Marc Deering/Inks, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Star Wars #33

As far as self-contained stories go, Star Wars #33 is actually a really nice one even taking into account a painfully awkward looking panel of Luke Skywalker. The mission is supposed to be a routine one and it is until the Empire catches them and now Luke and Leia are stranded on an island on a planet within a nebula.

This issue was surprisingly more poignant than expected. At one point, Leia and Luke talk about how they’re both orphans in the galaxy now because of the Empire but they’re not alone. It’s within those same few pages where Leia mentions how sometimes, when she looks up at the stars, Alderaan is still there. As a reader, that bit felt particularly painful. One can only imagine how Leia must feel weeks, months, years after her entire planet was destroyed only to occasionally look up and still see it in the sky above.

Jason Aaron’s writing for this entire issue really is spot on. It’s a nice insight into both of the twins and really follows up on the friendship between them. Most people wouldn’t be able to handle being stranded like that for so many weeks. Plus? The level up in badass skills for Leia certainly doesn’t hurt.

In the wake of the less than great Yoda arc and the far more enjoyable Screaming Citadel story, Star Wars #33 serves as both a good place for new readers to jump on and as a nice way for existing readers to readapt to the usual feel of the series.

Star Wars #33: Jason Aaron/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Rogue One #4

First things first: shout out to Phil Noto for yet another drop dead gorgeous cover. It’s a damn shame that Noto/Marvel doesn’t sell prints of these.

Much like the issues before it, Rogue One #4 does a great job of telling the film’s story without doing so verbatim. The key lines that everyone’s remembers are there but it’s not like you’re reading an illustrated version of the script. Also like the issues before it, this one has two lovely little added scenes that weren’t in the film. One features a conversation between K-2SO and Bodhi where he tells the droid that they’re the same because they were both Imperial but then Cassian and Galen reprogrammed them to help the Rebellion. The second is a brief one for Mon Mothma and Jyn. Mon Mothma, by the way, is a character who seems to routinely benefit from these adaptations. She’s becoming more and more of a fleshed out character beyond the woman we first saw before the Battle of Endor. On the downside, poor Chirrut and Baze do get the short end of the stick in this particular issue.

On the art front, Rachelle Rosenberg’s more muted coloring for the flashback panels on the first few pages is particularly effective and helps the memories really pop. There’s also a particularly lovely backlit shot of Jyn and Cassian towards the end of the issue that really stands out. The artist change ups over the book have felt a little strange at times but Rosenberg’s colors have been a nice consistency.

Rogue One #4 continues to be a great adaptation that will likely read even better in trade form.

Rogue One #4: Writer/Jody Houser, Artist/Emilio Laiso, Colorist/Rachelle Rosenberg, Letterer/Clayton Cowles, Editor/Heather Antos, Supervising Editor/Jordan D. White.

Review: Poe Dameron #16

As Poe Dameron #16 kicks off, Poe’s still on a freighter that’s about to blow up and the rest of his squadron are in ships with very little fuel. Oh yeah and they’ve still got to get that fuel ship back from the First Order. No biggie.

Something that Charles Soule has done a good job with is something that’s been in the background of the entire book but that this issue really drives home. The Resistance isn’t that well off. It’s almost like they’re back in the early days of the Alliance where every ship, every shipment, and every life matters. In the grand scheme of the Star Wars saga, a mission like this doesn’t seem that important but in the context of the Resistance? It’s vital. It also makes the Resistance feel that much more real.

What this particular issue does very well is highlight the team aspect of Black Squadron. Poe is great and it’s his name on the front of the book but more than a few readers are here for Jess, Karé, and Snap too. More and more, they’re starting to feel like characters who just might have some staying power like the Rogues of old. I can’t decide what’s funnier: Jess’s reputation with he droids or Snap calling Poe Space Crazy multiple times.

Assorted Musings:

  • There’s something about the coloring that’s just very… shiny?
  • Nice to see more women in the First Order
  • Cyborg Terex is disturbing
  • Commander Malarus’ eyebrows are a work of art
  • BB-8 continues to be the real MVP but you all knew that

Poe Dameron #16 is a win both for readers and for Black Squadron but… I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Commander Malarus quite yet. (Good for us. Not so good for Poe.)

Poe Dameron #16: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #8

Doctor Aphra #8 brings Screaming Citadel to its end as our heroes defeat the Queen but everyone doesn’t made it out entirely unscathed.

Sometimes, it’s in a good way. Despite being betrayed, Luke seems to emerge from the Screaming Citadel stronger and more sure of his path as a Jedi. He didn’t learn what he thought he would but it’s been a worthwhile experience for him nonetheless. Plus… it’s unlikely he’ll be naively trusting someone like Aphra any time soon. (Sadly, there go my hopes for a Luke/Aphra buddy comedy book and hopefully, there go the ridiculous Luke+Aphra=Rey theories.)

One of the recurring bits of this crossover has been Triple Zero laying down some disturbingly accurate psychoanalysis on some of the ladies. Seriously though… who knew a droid could be obsessed with murder and still have psychoanalysis protocols? This time, it’s Aphra that he’s turned his sights on and she’s not exactly pleased by what he has to say. Can’t really blame her but I also can’t say she’s wrong.

On the art front, this was a book that had three very distinct artistic styles in it and I have to wonder if it would have felt more cohesive if Checchetto had drawn the entire crossover. His style just felt more right for the gothic tone of the story. That said, I certainly enjoyed Andrea Broccardo’s work and I hope he sticks around the Doctor Aphra comics in the future.

Assorted Musings:

  • I doubt the Courtship of Princess Leia shout out was intentional but when you read it, you’ll know it
  • The friendship between Leia, Luke, and Han is pure and we need more of it
  • Sana felt a little inconsistent over the course of the arc but I like how things were left between her and Aphra
  • If anyone still doubts Aphra/Sana were an item after this… I dunno what to tell them.
  • Even when he’s mad, Luke Skywalker is still adorable

While Screaming Citadel didn’t have quite the punch that the previous crossover Vader Down did, it was nevertheless a fun and quirky ride that Doctor Aphra #8 wraps up nicely.

Doctor Aphra #8: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Andrea Broccardo/Art, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Poe Dameron Annual

Poe Dameron: not having a great day. Or week. Or month. Or however much time it’s been since the last mission. Conversations like this with Leia Organa cannot be fun.

In the Annual, Poe is somehow both Wedge Antilles and also the person that Wedge Antilles is dressing down. It’s really quite admirable and (honestly) probably why so many of us love him. There were even a few panels where Poe looked like a hybrid of Wedge and Janson from the old X-Wing comics. There aren’t many people in the galaxy who have quite the same luck as Poe and Wedge nor who also have the same skill in a starfighter.

The Annual is mostly a solo adventure for Poe and BB-8 as they end up in trouble they didn’t expect. Mostly, the issue feels like an excuse for Poe to learn A Thing and for Nik Virella to draw some truly fantastic facial expressions for both Poe and Leia. You’ve never before seen such an unimpressed eyebrow raise. That alone is worth the price of admission.

In a way, this issue feels like a bit of a callback to The Force Awakens in terms of Poe’s mission. It’s difficult to describe how without spoiling the plot but the vibe is there nonetheless.

The Poe Dameron Annual is a perfectly acceptable story with fun art that makes it worth it.

Poe Dameron Annual: Robbie Thompson/Writer, Nik Virella/Artist, Jordan Boyd/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Editor, Jordan D. White/Supervising Editor

Review: Darth Maul #4

First things first: the cover for this issue by Rafae Albuquerque is drop dead gorgeous especially since the colors of the title complement it.

The tricky thing about a book like this is that it feels like we know how this story must end and the result is that the issues creep towards it as the inevitable doom looms. How else could this possibly go for Jedi Padawan Eldra Kaitis? Darth Maul #4 takes us right up to that moment, leaving it for the final issue but there’s still plenty that happens here. After all, Maul and his bounty hunters have to survive the droves of angry criminals who Xrexus has sent to hunt them down for sport since they stole her Jedi.

The story is split between Cad Bane, Aurra Sing, and the rest attempting to survive and Maul and Eldra doing the same. The former is a good excuse to see Cad and Aurra be badass. The latter is… interesting. It certainly makes you appreciate the doomed Eldra. She’s far braver than many of us would be in what seems like a hopeless situation. Even Maul appears to be impressed. It’s enough to make you dread the (likely) inevitable conclusion next month.

Darth Maul #4 brings the action in its penultimate issue and along with some more Maul food for thought.

Darth Maul #4: Cullen Bunn/Writer, Luke Ross/Artist, Nolan Woodard/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Darth Vader (2017) #2

If you’re a big fan of all the clones… you may want to find yourself something to hug before reading this issue. Just saying.

In Darth Vader #2, Vader has his mission but is seemingly freer to define the parameters. This post-Revenge of the Sith story is a different take on the previously assumed aftermath of Order 66 where Vader immediately goes out to hunt down what’s left the of Jedi simply to slaughter them. Now he has a far more singular purpose: find a Jedi, kill them, and corrupt their kyber crystal. His plan? Go to a Jedi Outpost and utilize their still existing records to aide him in his search.

There’s something about this that feels far more personal than Vader hunting lots of Jedi. When he locates a target in the archives, it’s not someone he’s ever (or we the readers have ever) met before. It’s going to be a very deliberate mission and part of the slow, continuous murder of Anakin Skywalker. The slips back from Vader to Anakin are here within the issue if you’re paying attention even as his actions say that he’s trying to be everything that Anakin wasn’t.

I’m unsure whether Charles Soule intended for Vader’s little droid assistant to be snarky or not but I was certainly entertained. It’s one of the few things that can successfully speak up to the Sith and continue existing. It’s also interesting that the most we’ve seen Vader talk in the entire book so far has been to this droid. Gives more meaning to more machine now than man…

Unsurprisingly, Darth Vader #2 stays on target as we get closer and closer to Vader finding a Jedi and a kyber crystal for his lightsaber.

Darth Vader #2: Charles Soule/Writer, Giuseppe Camuncoli/Pencils, Cam Smith/Inks, David Curiel/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Star Wars #32

Things aren’t going very well for our heroes (good guys and bad guys alike) at the Screaming Citadel. Not even Triple Zero and Beetee are having fun. In fact, the only person who seems to have maintained her cool is Leia but that probably shouldn’t surprise anyone. This is Leia Organa we’re talking about, after all. The issue’s filled with a plenty of violence and “oh crap oh crap how are we getting out of this?” moments and gives Screaming Citadel that still very Star Wars feeling in this very gothic tale.

What amuses me is how it’s the men who’ve managed to get themselves captured and/or compromised while the ladies (and droids) are the ones out there getting things done. It’s not entirely Luke’s fault that he’s the naïve sort who trusted Aphra but he’s been captured nonetheless. Speaking of Aphra, she’s got some really great moments in this issues; ones that reinforce my desire for her and Luke to have their own on-going buddy comedy series.

Aphra’s the key here for character relationships that I want to see more of. This issue in particular makes Sana seem very antagonistic towards Aphra… or at least more so than usual. Perhaps we could trade one of the Kenobi journal one-shots for a flashback to Sana and Aphra’s relationship that gives a little more context as to why they are the way they are.

Penultimate issues can be odd sometimes because they can leave a reader wondering how on earth everything’s going to get wrapped up in one final issue. Star Wars #32 is no different. It introduces an “oh snap” moment on the very final page and I’m honestly not sure how Kieron Gillen’s going to do this despite having every faith that he will. Despite all of that… I would like that final issue in my hands now. Please.

Star Wars #32: Jason Aaron/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Rogue One #3

When it comes to comic adaptations, sometimes you can make a pretty solid guess as to how much of the film an issue will cover. Given where Rogue One #2 left off and Galen Erso’s presence on the cover… Yeah, it’s not hard to guess the territory that this issue goes over. (And yeah. It’s going to hurt.)

That said, Rogue One is able to do what The Force Awakens adaptation couldn’t: play with the material a little more. It has absolutely been to the book’s benefit. The story hasn’t so much been changed as much as it’s been supplemented. You might not think that Saw’s final moments could get more impactful but ohhhh no. Jody Houser finds a way.

Another thing that the issue does well is really build on the friendship/relationship between Jyn and Chirrut. Due to time constraints in the film, we didn’t get to see much of them interacting but there’s a sort of understanding between the two of them that’s understated but sweet.

The biggest problem that I have with this issue is the coloring. Bodhi Rook looks way too pale in any well-lit panels. It’s a little off-putting. On the other hand, Paolo Villanelli’s Cassian has far less strange looking facial hair so that’s a plus. I was also delighted to see some women amongst the X-Wing fighter pilots.

Overall, Rogue One continues to be an excellent adaptation of the film and I’m intrigued to see how they handle the rest of the story.

Rogue One #3: Writer/Jody Houser, Artists/Paolo Villanelli, Colorist/Rachelle Rosenberg, Letterer/Clayton Cowles, Editor/Heather Antos, Supervising Editor/Jordan D. White.