In Review: Obi-Wan & Anakin #1

A solid debut for the most famous Jedi team.

The cover: The two title characters look down to the Celadon Sea from some cliffs. Their lightsabers are lit and their hoods up as the snow endlessly falls upon them. Nice introductory cover to this series from interior artist Marco Checchetto. Anakin looks a little tense, as he should — with his lightsaber raised, and Obi-Wan is calm and collect. Both characters look sharp and the coloring excellent. I really like that the Jedi’s robe is being blown about behind him, adding to his hero pose. Kevin Nowlan is the artist of the Classic Variant cover. It features Anakin standing atop a rock, giving a yell as he holds his lightsaber above his head. Standing next to him is Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. He has his full Jedi robes on and is holding his saber before him much more cautiously than his padawan. The pair are in a cold environment, judging by the snow covered mountains and the steam coming from Anakin’s saber. Great image with good coloring. The next variant cover is by Siya Oum and shows the two characters practically back to back in the same chilly setting, though Anakin looks much older than the previous two covers. Anakin also has his hood up, while Kenobi has no problems with the cold. Both their lightsabers are up and are crossing before the title’s logo, which is always a neat visual element. Obi-Wan looks fine, but Anakin is too old for this issue. The next Variant is by Skottie Young and is really funny. A ginormous Wampa is lunging at the pair of heroes, with Anakin moving backwards, knocking his master and himself off a snowy cliff. The visual is funny and the colors are perfect. I’ve not been a fan of Young’s work on variant covers, but this one is outstanding. The Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher stated on a website it had been “recalled.” If it came out, I don’t know, but there is a visual posted, so I’m going to review it. It’s another of the action figure covers that resembles a Kenner Star Wars figure on its card. This is of Anakin Skywalker, showing the youngster in his padawan braid and robes with a blue lightsaber before him. It’s a nice “What if?” cover and I wish that Kenner would make this into an actual figure. Overall grades: Main A, Variant Nowlan A, Variant Oum B, Variant Young A+, and Variant Christoper A+

The story: In orbit around Carenlion IV a ship makes its way through the debris of another ship and begins a deadly fall to the planet’s surface. In the cold mountains, two natives watch the ship as it streaks through the atmosphere. The ship ejects two pods which enable an odd type of protective shielding to salvage their contents, but the ship is destroyed. Anakin tells his master that even Plo Kloon couldn’t have flown safely through the debris field that circles the planet. Telling his padawan that is only one reason no one comes to this world, he instructs the teen to look below the clouds and go into the Celadon Sea. The two find a city in ruins, the result of a war. The next four pages features Jedi arguments that one would expect between the two: Obi-Wan says it was not in the Jedi Council or Republic’s interests to help this civilization, with Anakin stating that the system doesn’t work and should be fixed. This is what a fan of Star Wars would expect these two debate and I began to feel a tremor in the Force as to what Charles Soule was going to do with this story. Thankfully, this pontificating is halted for an outstanding flashback of the youth training with his lightsaber, observed by Mace Windu and Chancellor Palpatine, with the latter making some stellar comments, while the Jedi gives him a wonderful response. The story then returns to the present with the pair inserting themselves into a ship’s plight. This issue is setting up this multi-chapter story, so much is hinted at, but nothing is revealed. More questions than answers from this tale, but Soule is a strong writer, so I’m more than willing to pick up next month’s issue. Overall grade: A-

The art: The setting of Carnelion IV dominates this issue illustrated by Marco Checchetto. There’s a constant stream of snow falling everywhere and constant clouds of cold air wafting about. The technique that’s used to create both elements looks blury, as though created by a computer, causing a clash with the line art of the characters, building, and vehicles. Sometimes it works (Pages 6 and 7), sometimes it doesn’t (4 and 5). A strong example existing in the same panel can be found on Page 1’s final panel: the characters are well defined and outlined, but the mountain they are standing upon is blury; shouldn’t the setting the characters are standing upon be as crystal clear as the characters? They are both in the foreground. The scenes within the Jedi Temple are very well done, though, with Checchetto moving the point of view around exceptionally well, with the balcony’s pieces being sharp. The characters throughout this issue are universally well done. They are consistent, with the two leads looking good in both settings, with the younger showing some terrific emotion. It’s not a big thing, but it’s rare to see Jedi with their hoods on, and I was really pleased to see both characters doing so. Palpatine is a scene stealer for his pages, with his smile being just wonderfully cringe worthy. The vehicle that appears on 16 and 17 is magnificent looking, seeming more Steampunk than Star Wars, but fitting in nicely for an “alien” world. I hope that in future issues there can be a clearer shot of one of these transports. The final two pages introduce two new characters into the story and their design is excellent. They remind me a lot of Jan Duursema’s design work of characters when she was illustrating Dark Horse Comics’ books when they had the franchise. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but seeing this pair sparked good memories and has me hoping that there will be more works “inspired” by this artist’s design. Overall grade: B+   

The colors: As with the art, the colors, by Andres Mossa, work best when not involved with the blurred technique of the settings. I didn’t like the snow, clouds, or explosive colors, but really liked the work on the characters (such as on 6 and 7), with the training sequence pages being the best in the book. Mossa does some superb work on shadows or elements being backlit. There’s a hologram also in play on these pages and the coloring brings this figure to life excellently. Characters’ faces also look good, with Windu and Palpatine being outstanding. The coloring of the two new characters introduced on the final pages is also strong, making a excellent visual counterpoint to the robed Jedi. Overall grade: B+

The letters: Scene settings, sounds, dialogue are created by VC’s Joe Caramagna. Hooray for this issue’s sound effects! Explosions and — this one made me ecstatic — lightsabers can be heard! It’s about time, Marvel! Caramagna has done an impressive job on these when he’s been allowed to do so in the past and now that they’re fully in use this letterer really shines. I’m still nitpicking on the font for dialogue, which doesn’t work for me, but sounds are in Star Wars comics! Hooray! Overall grade: B+

The final line: A solid debut for the most famous Jedi team. A few elements kept this from being an A book, but the majority of this is good. Another book for Star Wars fanatics to follow. Overall grade: B+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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