Review: Doctor Aphra #2

You just knew when Aphra’s dad showed up that it wasn’t going to be for fun and games.  They hardly seem to be a warm and fuzzy family, Boop or no Boop.  It turns out that questionable ethics run in the family as Aphra’s Dad has decided to leak to the archaeology board that she cheated on her doctorate entirely because he wants her to help him find the Ordu Aspectu.  What happened to them?  Well… let’s just say that everyone has their own theory and it’s going to take them to a very unexpected moon.

Doctor Aphra #2 follows up on the fun and adventure of the first issue but this time with more family problems!  (Honestly, who doesn’t have family drama in the galaxy far, far away?)  This book is definitely a tonal shift from Darth Vader which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It’s just taking a little getting used to especially since we’re finally seeing Aphra deal with her own problems as opposed to Vader’s.  Seeing a female character be the star of her own story entirely on her own merits (and not because of who she’s related to) is incredibly refreshing as is seeing a smaller scale story that doesn’t have galactic ramifications.

This is hardly news but Kieron Gillen definitely knows how to end a comic on a cliffhanger that’s going to leave you incredibly anxious for the next issue.  Can we have Issue #3 yet?  No?  On the art front, I’m getting more and more used to seeing our cast drawn by Kev Walker instead of Salvador Larroca.  His style is incredibly expressive which works quite well for the arguments between father and daughter.

So how is Doctor Aphra holding up?  Pretty darn good so far.  You should definitely be reading it!

Doctor Aphra #2: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Artist, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Poe Dameron #9

Do you remember back in the old days how there was a droid that would essentially shut down if you told him to shut up three times? Yeah, I think Threepio could use one of those protocols. (There was more to it than that but you get my point. Make Threepio shut up!) probably about 80% of the bad things that happen in this issue could have been avoided if Threepio had just been quiet. The other 20% rest on someone shooting Terex back during the Battle of Jakku.

Charles Soule promised us backstory for the dastardly Agent Terex and he’s certainly delivering. What remains to be seen is if this is also definitely backstory for the First Order. I’d love to see the behind the scenes coordination going on between Team Poe, Team Aftermath, the Story Group, and anyone else working on the Battle of Jakku because there are so many moving parts for a giant event that we’ve only briefly seen in Lost Stars. Terex is such a great villain that it’s fantastic to see more of his backstory but I’m more fascinated by the origins of the First Order which are increasingly more complex than I’d originally suspected. The flashbacks are my favorite bits of this arc and I can’t wait to see more!

Switching back to the Resistance, I love Phil Noto’s art on this book! Especially for this issue! The planet feels so real and lived in and is a really great visual tieback to The Force Awakens. It’s a nice reminder of how close in time this comic is to the film. Shout out the Guavian Death Gang! (I wish them no luck on their hunt for hunt for Han Solo.)

Poe Dameron #9 is a solid issue overall but undoubtedly worth it because of the spotlight on Agent Terex regardless of whose name is on the cover.

Poe Dameron #9: Charles Soule/Writer, Phil Noto/Artist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Dr. Aphra #1

dr-aphraIt’s finally here! Dr. Aphra #1! Okay, so we’ve only been waiting for a month and a half but it’s felt like forever. No longer in Darth Vader’s service, Aphra, her two murderdroids, and Black Krrsantan are back to their usual thing: finding and selling ancient artifacts for a profit with a side of violence. Except there’s one problem: her doctorate’s been revoked and now she can’t sells her loot for the usual high prices.

Dr. Aphra #1 is our first real chance (outside of her introduction in Darth Vader #3) to really get to see Aphra going after what Aphra wants. I love that this book immediately reminds us that she’s not one of those rogues with a heart of gold. She straight up kills a man and isn’t particularly torn up about it. (Hey, he had a thing that she wanted!) I’m glad that it’s Kieron Gillen still at the writing helm because that means we’re getting the definitive Aphra and Aphra backstory just as he always imagined her. I don’t think I’d trust anyone else to write her quite yet even though we still run the risk of her, you know, dying. Because it’s Gillen.

On the art front, Kev Walker takes over for this new book but we do get a taste of Salvador Larroca via the short story at the end. Adding a little something extra has been Marvel’s MO for first issues. It’s a nice nod to their previous collaboration and while I dig Larroca’s work, it’s nice to get a distinctly different style for this book. Thus far, I’m definitely a fan of Walker’s more comic booky style.

There weren’t a ton of surprises in this first issue. They mostly cover what we’ve already learned in interviews and solicits but it does very nicely introduce Team Aphra to new readers. In other words, it’s very much a first issue but I’m honestly so glad to be reading about her again that it could’ve been 22 pages of nothing but Aphra ordering drinks in a cantina and I would’ve been content. That said, I can’t emphasize enough how excited I am to see where this book goes. After all, we can’t have a Dr. Aphra book if Aphra doesn’t have a doctorate… right?

In case it wasn’t clear yet… yeah.  Dr. Aphra #1 gets my whole hearted endorsement.  Go snag yourself a copy.

Dr. Aphra #1: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Artist, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Editor/Jordan White, Assistant Editor: Heather Antos

On the Importance of Dr. Aphra

dr-aphraThis week? This week is a good week because we get Dr. Aphra #1.

Aphra’s been a lot of firsts since we initially met her in Darth Vader #3 in March 2015. She was the first significant new character we met in the Star Wars comics. She was one of the first (alongside Sabine Wren) Asian characters to have a leading role in the Star Wars universe. And Wednesday? She’s going to be the first female character to get a Star Wars ongoing title and one of the first characters unaffiliated with the films or TV shows to headline her own comic or book.

Short version? She’s a big freaking deal.

(And not just because she survived a Kieron Gillen book which is really admirable on its own.) Continue reading

Review: Star Wars Annual #2

In a shocking turn of events, it’s looking like the Star Wars Annuals might actually be Annual! I hope that they continue to be (and that they continue to be standalone stories with characters who appear in the book later.)

Excitingly, we get to add another woman to the list of female creators for Star Wars as Kelly Thompson takes on writing duties. Marvel fans will know her from A-Force and she’s a great pick for a story that centers around two women. The story centers around Pash Davane (aka Bash) who used to be an underwater engineer but is now stuck lugging around crates. She’s not terribly fond of the Rebellion and yet she still finds herself helping the one and only Princess Leia out of a very tight corner. For some reason.

Thompson tells a fun and engaging story that gives us a better idea of how the normal person might see the war between the Rebellion and the Empire. That’s something that Star Wars in general has been striving to do more of with the new canon and I like it. Pash is likeable and believable. Thompson also rights a pretty darn decent Leia. I’d definitely be interested to see more of her Star Wars work.

Unfortunately, I have mixed thoughts on Emilio Laizo’s artwork. While I love that Pash breaks away from the standard one female body types and that she actually looks like a big, muscular woman, Leia’s tragically subjected to a few too many awkward poses that are clearly intended to be sexy. It stands out just a little too much especially in comparison to the rest of the art on the Star Wars line. On the other hand, it’s wonderful to see Rachelle Rosenberg doing colors on a Star Wars book again though! Her work on Legacy Volume 2 was lovely and continues to be so here.

But hey! There’s a nice little nod to Firefly on the very first page which is always fun and there are even art cameos by the esteemed editors of this book. How can you not appreciate this book just for those?

Star Wars Annual #2: Kelly Thompson/Writer, Emilio Laiso/Artist, Rachelle Rosenberg/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Editor/Jordan White, Assistant Editor: Heather Antos

Review: Star Wars #25

The Last Flight of the Harbinger draws to a close today with the release of Star Wars #25. It’s been an… uneven arc. Perhaps uneven’s not quite the right word but the tone of each issue has felt wildly different. We went from the super serious stormtrooper focused issue to the very flirty Han and Leia one to this serious yet humorous battle one. I’ve enjoyed the ride but admittedly, I’m not sure how I feel about the book as a whole.

By far and away, Sana Starros is establishing herself as one of the best parts of this book. (Apparently November is the month when I fistpump and cheer on awesome ladies.)   Since her introduction many arcs ago, it’s been a delight watching her develop into being so much more than an old compatriot of Han’s. The insanity of the Rebels is start to rub off on her and holy hell SHE IS A BADASS. Everything about her duel with the stormtrooper is just fantastic especially with their banter. She has very quickly become my favorite part of this book and I hope she continues to stick around and maybe even guest stars in the Dr. Aphra book one day?

Jason Aaron definitely does take advantage of getting access to Vader again and I believe he’ll continue to do so. (No spoilers… you’ll just have to read the last page.) I’m also hoping that we get to see more of Sergeant Kreel’s squad… the book certainly seems to hint that we might. They didn’t get to do quite enough this book to fully establish themselves as the badasses that they were in the first issue.

I sound moderately down on this issue but that has more to do with not being quite as satisfied with the arc as a whole. The fight scenes in this one are definitely fun. It just wasn’t my favorite story line thus far. But hey! This issue does also include a short little comic at the end about Artoo by Chris Eliopoulos and Jordie Bellaire and it’s the CUTEST THING.

Star Wars #25: Jason Aaron/Writer, Jorge Molina/Artist, Matt Milla/Colorist, Chris Eliopoulos/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Han Solo #5

An issue like this one never fails to be bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s a very satisfying ending to a great book. On the other hand… the book’s ending. That’s the downside to these miniseries. I’d love to see books like this, Princess Leia, and Obi-Wan & Anakin go on for arc after arc but instead we only get 5 issues. Treasure them while you can.

This book is just so damn pretty. I suspect that some Star Wars fans who don’t have as strong of a comics background don’t know how damn lucky we are to get Mark Brooks doing interiors on this book and Sonia Oback’s colors just make the pages pop ever more. This book was a goddamn gift for the artwork alone and Marjorie Liu’s script makes it doubly so. Why hasn’t this book get more appreciation than it does?

So many things about this book have just been so darn fun. It was definitely a character study for Han but plot line about the mission for the Rebel Alliance and the race were definitely enjoyable to follow. I especially loved how the race announcer narrated this issue. The stakes were high (in more ways than one) but that never stopped this book from being fun.

As mentioned in previous issue review, this was definitely an uncertain Han Solo that we’d never really seen before and Liu deftly takes him more towards the certainty that we’re used to. It’s such a natural progression. The “mirror made up of others” line may have been a bit on the nose but Han might be the one character for whom it really works. Sometimes you just need to smack that boy over the head with an idea for him to get it especially when there’s a rebellion or a woman involved. Speaking of ladies, the final page with him and Leia is so note perfect that it hurts.

If you’ve been holding off on this book for the final verdict, wait no longer. Han Solo is definitely cleared for take off. Pick up the floppies, pick up the trades in a few months; whichever. But definitely make sure you read this book.

Han Solo #5: Marjorie Liu/Writer, Mark Brooks/Artist, Sonia Oback & Matt Milla/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Poe Dameron #8

Poe Dameron #8 has a little bit of something for everyone. Sweaty Poe aggressively kicking a punching bag! Adorable BB-8 listening to his angsting and holding out a sweat rag once he’s done! Unexpected Agent Terex backstory! Adorable Oddy getting permission to fly Poe’s X-Wing! AND WHO IS THAT DROID WITH THE RED ARM???

Despite his not-so-restful shore leave time last issue, Poe Dameron is not doing great. He’s increasingly concerned that one of his pilots might be a spy for the First Order; something that’s particularly troubling given that he’s known some of them for a very long time. It’s worrying enough that he doesn’t feel comfortable tapping any of the four for a top-secret mission to rescues one of Threepio’s droid informants. Seeing Poe like this makes me want to just give him a hug (and then find the spy and shake them senseless.)

Just as Charles Soule promised us, we’re going back to Jakku in a flashback to the Battle of Jakku! We finally learn a little more about who Terex is (outside of being fabulous,) where he comes from, and why he’s with the First Order. It’s definitely giving the character more depth and I suspect we’ll only learn more as this arc progresses.

The only downside to this issue is that it’s woefully lacking in other Black Squadron pilots. I’m already missing those kids and hope we’re not going to go an entire story arc without them.

As always, Issue #8 is another solid entry of the Poe Dameron comic and the Agent Terex backstory alone is worth the price of admission.

Poe Dameron #8: Charles Soule/Writer, Phil Noto/Artist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Star Wars #24

Say hello to the payoff we’ve been waiting for since that very first tease of Scar Squadron. Sergeant Kreel’s stormtroopers are finally clashing with our barebones Rebel Star Destroyer crew! How does that work out for Leia, Luke, and Han? Well… uhhh… not terribly well.

This was definitely a doomed mission from the start but there’s something intriguing about how Leia and the rest keep fighting despite the odds being progressively more stacked against them. Jason Aaron really nails Leia’s characterization with how dedicated she is to the mission and the overarching Rebellion. Add that to how awesome Sana’s been this issue and more and more? The Star Wars book’s strength is becoming its women.

Issue #24 definitely has more of that classic Star Wars feel than last month’s Han And Leia Are Going To Win Even If It Kills Them issue did. There’s also a heck of a lot action. Visually, Jorge Molina’s artwork throughout the issue is awesome. Scar Squadron is comprised of troopers who not only have different kits but also have different fighting styles. Some people may not like seeing Kreel wield a lightsaber against Luke but within the story, it all works rather well. It’s worth noting that this is also a story that couldn’t take place anywhere else because Luke’s definitely still very much a novice when it comes to lightsaber dueling.

Here’s the thing though: it wouldn’t matter what else happened in this issue because that last page? Yeah, that last page makes it all worth it. What happens? Well, you’ll just have to read the issue and find out.

Star Wars #24: Jason Aaron/Writer, Jorge Molina/Artist, Matt Milla/Colorist, Chris Eliopoulos/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Poe Dameron #7

Poe’s flying solo and off on a personal mission to see an old friend! What could possibly go wrong? (A lot of things. So many things.) Come on, buddy: You should know better than to go somewhere in the galaxy and not bring a blaster. That’s, like, Impending Galactic War 101.

As far as standalone issues go, this one really pops out and that’s due in great part to Suralinda, an old Navy-turned-journalist friend of Poe’s. It might say his name on the front of the book but this is definitely her issue to shine. Charles Soule has her go through an entire character arc within the issue that’s incredibly satisfying and completely about her. I sincerely hope we get to see more of Suralinda in the future because she’s too good of a character to leave in one-shot hell.

We don’t get Phil Noto artwork this month but we do get Angel Unzueta with Frank D’Armata on colors which is definitely a change up but not a bad one. I especially like his rendering of General Organa and also his commitment to Poe’s five o’clock shadow. I also love what he did with Suralinda’s character design and costume. (Hey cosplayers: That’d be an awesome project…)

If you’re looking for a good place to jump on to the Poe comic, this is absolutely the time to do so. It’s a fun ride that requires no real backstory and it even brings a whole new meaning to “I can fly anything.” 10/10, I absolutely recommend.

Poe Dameron #7: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Frank D’Armata/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor