In Review: Star Wars #1

This captures the classic Star Wars feelings of the original series.

The covers: In addition to the Main cover by John Cassady and Laura Martin there are 69 Variant covers. That’s too many to include in the general review to the first issue, so I’ll save all of those that have been identified for a separate article, because that’s going to take a lot of space! The Main cover has Luke Skywalker, front and center, in his outfit from the end of the original film, complete with gold jacket. Han and Chewie are to his right, looking as they did from the same film. Leia and R2-D2 and C-3PO are to his left, with Leia back wearing her hair and clothes from the beginning of that film, though her dress is a little higher to show off her kicky go-go boots. All six characters are before a silhouette of Darth Vader that contains the view of going to hyperspace. Three X-Wings and four TIE Fighters are flying above them all, superimposed over the white background. It’s a decent picture, with Luke looking particularly solemn. Leia and Han are fine, but Chewie doesn’t look so good, and C-3PO is particularly poor. It’s a dynamic composition harkening back to the 1970s and I like the layout but want all the characters to look a better. Overall grade: B+

The story: Book I, “Skywalker Strikes”, by Jason Aaron begins with a classic shot in space as a Tatooine shuttle goes to land at the Corellian Industrial Center on Cymoon 1. A squad of stormtroopers watch the ship land and are ordered by their commanding officer, Overseer Aggadeen, to kill the passengers if “anything seems even remotely suspicious.” The ship opens with Han Solo and R2 exiting, accompanied by two guards wearing the same type of clothing Lando wore at the beginning of Return of the Jedi. Han is there representing Jabba the Hutt to begin some “fruitful negotiations.” A familiar face from a group shown in The Empire Strikes Back is there to confirm his identity and provide some background on him. The negotiations do not go as the Imperials had suspected. This was a very smooth rebooting of the characters showing them working as a team in sabotaging the center, but another arrival changes their plans. This individual was completely unexpected. Highlights of the story included (and I’m starting the numbering with the first page that is entirely art) Page 8, panel five; Pages 13 – 16, with that final page having me cheering; Page 19–Uh-oh!; Pages 21 – 24–that’s how you make your power known; and the cliffhanger on 30 was excellent. This story felt like a classic untold tale. I’m so pleased with what Aaron has done with this. Overall grade: A+

The art: I’ve got nicks with the visuals. John Cassaday is doing a really good job with the stormtroopers, Aggadeen, R2-D2, and the primary antagonist of the story. When this antagonist goes into action it’s very impressive. Leia is also really good looking. Cassaday does a really good likeness of Carrie Fisher. Han is excellent for the majority of the book, but starting on 20 he’s not looking much like Harrison Ford. Luke is spotty. His reveal is outstanding, and he is absolutely superb on Page 14. The full page splash on 16 is a magnificent moment, but Luke’s gained some weight. He slims down after this, back to being stunning for the final two pages. Poor Threepio is just dreadful in every appearance. Worse is Chewbacca. He looks good in profile, but otherwise his head and face look nothing like the Wookie fans are familiar with. At one point Chewie leaps and he has Cookie Monster fingers. These last two characters took me out of the story. The action sequences are drawn really well, with 21 – 24 being show stoppers. One panel embodies Star Wars completely, it’s not an action scene but a moment before something happens: the top of Page 12. That is Star Wars. The poses, the composition–that is a flawless illustration. The art is good for the most part, with blips appearing infrequently but still distracting. Overall grade: B

The colors: Really nice work on this book from Laura Martin, whose work is currently gracing Walter Simonson’s Ragnarok for IDW Comics. The opening three pages have terrific art and Martin compliments them perfectly, making the images look like lost movie scenes. She handles shading and dark colors deftly, which is needed as the heroes are on a secret mission. I really liked the third panel on Page 6–very smooth. Electricity comes into play on 8 – 10 and it looks great. Luke’s lightsaber perfectly mirrors the blue of his weapon from the first two films. The exteriors, especially the skies, on Cymoon 1 are gorgeous. Martin is excellence personified. Overall grade: A

The letters: Chris Eliopoulos creates ship communications (which is the same font used for a communication between Threepio and the heroes), dialogue, and sounds. The dialogue font is different from other fonts I’ve seen letterers use in that Elipoulos has the top line on his Rs and Bs just tip over the vertical back line. It makes the letters look hurried. It gives the book an independent publisher feel, rather than the polished one expected from the largest publisher of comics in the United States. I didn’t care for the screams and growls that exceeded their dialogue balloons, either. For example, the yell on Page 13 is so scrunched to fit in the panel the first four letters are practically unreadable. Expanding the balloon would have helped. And I know it’s not Eliopoulos’s decision, but laser blasts have no sounds, nor does a lightsaber igniting. It’s a crime not to have these sounds in this series. I say, let Eliopoulos loose for those weapons. Overall grade: B 

The final line: This captures the classic Star Wars feelings of the original series. It’s not as polished as Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars were, but it’s close. I don’t know how this could have lived up to the hype or expectations of fans, like me, but it’s good enough for me to return and want it to succeed. Overall grade: A-

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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