Star Wars

Star Wars: Thrawn #4 (July 2018)

Star Wars: Thrawn #4All of a sudden, Thrawn is about Thrawn again. The issue covers a few years, sometimes emphasizing some of Thrawn’s achievements, sometimes just hopping ahead. It’s just really nice to have Thrawn and sidekick Vanto back. They’re so fun together.

There’s also the analytical stuff, which is what makes Thrawn engaging. Not the action or intrigue–the issue even determines Thrawn’s no good for intrigue–but the plotting and the contemplation. Well, the contemplation when Thrawn gets to quiz Vanto about it.

It’s such a nice return to form, it barely matters the issue doesn’t really go anywhere, just does a bunch of summary to set up the next issue. It’d be even nicer if writer Houser had employed a similar tactic on the previous issue, which lost its leads to world build.

Good art from Ross. He’s able to mix in some silly composition choices–floating heads talking across an action panel–to reasonable success. Thrawn isn’t strict; Ross uses its fluidity to good result here.

So. Perfectly fine stuff. Especially for a licensed tie-in novel adaptation.

CREDITS

Writers, Timothy Zahn and Jody Houser; artist, Luke Ross; colorist, Nolan Woodard; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Heather Antos; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Wars: Thrawn #3 (June 2018)

Star Wars: Thrawn #3Thrawn really isn’t important this issue of Thrawn. Instead, it tracks the adventures of a young woman from the Outer Sim who ends up on the Imperial homeworld and discovers corruption and manipulation in politics. But she sees an opportunity for advancement, and calls on Thrawn to help her.

For a while, it’s a decent issue. It seems like Houser is building to something. He might be–the issue has a hard cliffhanger–but he’s immediately overdue on it. An indulgence issue. Maybe it’s to the eventual trade paces out well. But in floppy? It’s a little much.

Especially since it’s so confusing. There’s so much dialogue, so much exposition. But then an event will occur and it won’t seem like anything previous discussed. And you reread the previous discussions and it certainly doesn’t seem like they’re talking about planning the immediately occurring events. The issue’s lead–the new woman–keeps a lot to herself.

The book is getting to be a bummer. But Ross’s art is awesome this issue.

CREDITS

Writers, Timothy Zahn and Jody Houser; artist, Luke Ross; colorist, Nolan Woodard; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Heather Antos; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Wars: Thrawn #2 (May 2018)

One of the amusing franchise realties for Star Wars is Imperial officers aren’t bright. The movies established early on only Darth Vader had any brains. Darth Vader, then the Emperor. Otherwise, the Imperials were twits.

So Thrawn, which has a genius alien ascending the ranks of the racist Imperial Navy, has a somewhat peculiar problem. How can writer Houser show Thrawn’s ability to excel amid a group of twits. Even allowing for some intelligence, they’re still a bunch of racist twits. It’s kind of an interesting thing. Houser doesn’t really explore it because you don’t get to acknowledge a problem with a franchise in a licensed title. Well, whatever Star Wars is to Marvel.

It’s a successful issue. Maybe a little less impressive than the first; Houser thinks the big reveal is a lot more dramatic than it turns out to be. Thrawn is still all about Thrawn and his human flunky, Ensign Eli. Eli’s supposedly Thrawn’s handler (and is his assigned aide), but Thrawn’s really two steps ahead. Or ten steps. Whichever. Eli’s not too bright.

Decent art from Ross. Little too much with the computer shading, but decent art. He doesn’t do the action well. Like when there are fistfights and prison breaks and whatever. Those scenes, which are rushed in the script, are confusing on the page. Too little information and not the best panel subjects.

But a fine enough, sci-fi comic. It’s a little Star Wars, but not a lot Star Wars. It’s just the right amount.

CREDITS

Writers, Timothy Zahn and Jody Houser; artist, Luke Ross; colorist, Nolan Woodard; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Heather Antos; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Wars: Thrawn #1 (April 2018)

Star Wars: Thrawn #1Even through Thrawn gets a fair number of close-ups in Thrawn #1, I finished the issue feeling like he didn’t. Thrawn is a Star Wars comic–one of the new official ones so all those old official ones from Dark Horse starring Thrawn are out of continuity. Though, since they’re all based on Timothy Zahn novels, there’s got to be crossover.

This issue deals with how blue super-intelligent alien Thrawn gets into the Imperial Academy. There’s even a cameo by the Emperor (which is maybe the comic’s only draggy scene). Otherwise, it just moves and moves.

Some of the brevity is thanks to the narrator. It’s not Thrawn, but some Imperial cadet who gets stuck translating and babysitting him. The cadet’s not a jerk, but he’s completely disinterested in his assignment. Writer Jody Houser uses the cadet as the reader’s vantage point, but the cadet’s got more information than he’s sharing in narration. Got to keep it dramatically compelling.

And Houser and artist Luke Ross are able to keep it compelling. Even when the comic hits a second or fourth talking heads sequence. There’s sporadic action, but most of it is just seeing how Thrawn reacts to this new world around him. There’s Star Wars minutiae but the better, not-created-by-George-Lucas minutiae (i.e. the Galactic language being called Basic–it’s immediately self-explanatory).

It’s an exceedingly competent comic book. Good art, good scripting.

CREDITS

Writers, Timothy Zahn and Jody Houser; artist, Luke Ross; colorist, Nolan Woodard; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Heather Antos; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Princess Leia 1 (May 2015)

Princess Leia #1You know, I almost like Princess Leia. Oh, the Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson art is lame cheesecake–though they draw Chewbacca well enough–and Mark Waid’s script isn’t lame cheesecake. Waid’s doing this whole “young Princess Leia” comes into her own thing, really playing into the original Star Wars idea of her being young.

Waid’s dialogue makes Leia feel like a good “Disney Princess” Leia; not so much believable Carrie Fisher would be speaking the lines, which are far too modern and not seventies (or Lucas) enough. And it raises an interesting question about this new Star Wars line of comics.

As these first Disney Star Wars titles start, serving as direct sequel to the original seventies film, with the new film with that cast imminent, can these characters be bigger than their actors?

No. No, they can not.

Leia is still okay. Waid’s engaged, even though Dodson isn’t.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Waid; penciller, Terry Dodson; inker, Rachel Dodson; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Charles Beacham and Jordan D. White; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Wars 1 (March 2015)

Star Wars #1There’re a lot of politics in the first issue of Star Wars. Some of it is just Jason Aaron trying to make the Star Wars universe makes sense for thinking reader, which is always been a problem. Star Wars is not deep.

And Aaron’s script for Star Wars turns out not to be very deep either. He has the obligatory Darth Vader appearance, some throwback references to the last movie. Marvel’s Star Wars series is set immediately following the original movie, just like that Marvel Star Wars series from the seventies. So why read another one? Is it supposed to be the John Cassaday art?

Hopefully not, because the art is pretty lame. Cassaday doesn’t have a lot of enthusiasm for the spacecraft or the setting and he goes for photo reference on the main cast but gets lazy almost every third panel.

Star Wars is lame, lazy and redundant.

CREDITS

Skywalker Strikes; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, John Cassaday; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Charles Beacham and Jordan D. White; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Star Wars 8 (May 2014)

The Star Wars #8If the letters pages didn’t swear Rinzler was sticking to the original rough draft, I don’t think I’d believe it. Because this issue–adapted from a script written in the early seventies–has the standard modern action movie third act thing going on. When they attack the Death Star (it’s called something else, I think), Annikin and Leia are still on the station. They’re fighting to get away.

The original movie doesn’t try to overdo the dramatic tension–though Return of the Jedi basically does the aforementioned tension boosting. It reads more like what came later, in the genre created by Star Wars, than Star Wars itself.

There are some interesting twists and turns this issue too. The problem is more the length–Rinzler could have used two more issues for all the stuff he works out in this one–but The Star Wars concludes a somewhat successful curiosity.

Even with all the terrible names.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, J.W. Rinzler; artist, Mike Mayhew; colorist, Rain Beredo; letterer, Michael Heisler; editors, Freddye Lins and Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Star Wars 7 (April 2014)

The Star Wars #7This issue isn't bad. It's got some of Mayhew's best art on the series–though not his giant Wookie battle, but the moments before those scenes–and Rinzler keeps the action going. But the comparisons to the original films, particularly Return of the Jedi, reveal just how much texture Rinzler has sacrificed to fit this comic into eight issues.

For example, there are these attempts at banter between Annikin and Artwo and they're incredibly forced–it's as though Rinzler remembered at the last minute Artwo could talk here and had to get something in.

The issue is preparation for the Wookie battle, which includes the introduction of Chewbacca and his single dialogue exchange with Han Solo (who's just around to give Luke Starkiller someone to talk exposition with), the huge Wookie battle, kids getting kidnapped, Darth Vader interrogating, Annikan infiltrating the Death Star stand-in.

Too bad Dark Horse couldn't give Rinzler twelve issues.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, J.W. Rinzler; artist, Mike Mayhew; colorist, Rain Beredo; letterer, Michael Heisler; editors, Freddye Lins and Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Star Wars 6 (March 2014)

298235 20140312103045 largeAfter some unimaginative issues, The Star Wars definitely feels a lot more on track this time around. Even with some way too static art from Mayhew. He has lots of problems with Princess Leia react shots. She looks completely nonplussed by the chaos around here; it's not a one time thing, it's every time she's in a panel.

But this issue gives writer Rinzler the chance to utilize that fantastic Star Wars device–divide the cast into separate story lines before bringing them back together. Annikin gets separated from Starkiller and Han Solo as they both run across the Wookie tribes on this jungle planet. Lots of interesting, unexplored threads from the original films, which is something this series apparently needs (and initially promised).

Before I forget–having an older lead in Starkiller, not a guest star, really helps.

It's definitely one of the better issues. The second half's fantastic.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, J.W. Rinzler; artist, Mike Mayhew; colorist, Rain Beredo; letterer, Michael Heisler; editors, Freddye Lins and Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Star Wars 5 (February 2014)

295092 20140205094015 largeIt’s an all action issue, which is good since Mayhew’s faces are way too static. Everyone is either grimacing or smiling. Maybe he was in a rush. Or maybe doing all the action took up too much time.

The action’s all rather familiar. It’s a mix of sequences from the first Star Wars movie, the spaceport subterfuges and then the Death Star rescue. It’s not bad, just kind of boring. See this version of Han Solo–an alien who looks a lot like the seventies Swamp Thing, only orangish–is about the only standout. And he doesn’t do anything.

Oh, Mayhew drawing Threepio slightly feminine might be interesting, but I think it’s just a coincidence.

One thing I did notice was the lack of strong female presence. The Princess in The Star Wars does about as much as a handbag. Except when she gets mushy.

Still, it’s slick and entertaining.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, J.W. Rinzler; artist, Mike Mayhew; colorist, Rain Beredo; letterer, Michael Heisler; editors, Freddye Lins and Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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