In Review: Star Wars #15

This is a good book, showing what Ben and Luke were doing between films. Must reading for Star Wars fans.

The cover: A trio to track down before you journey to Tatooine. The Main cover is by interior artist and colorist Mike Mayhew. It’s a close-up of Ben Kenobi, looking as though he’s ready for anything as he makes his way through one of the desert world’s canyons. He’s got his lightsaber hanging from his belt, a rope coiled behind his back, joined by a Tusken Raider’s gaderffii and long rifle. This is a good transition illustration of the Jedi, set between Episodes III and IV, and I’m dying to know why he’s carrying all that gear. The first Variant I found online is a pencils only version of the Main cover. I actually prefer this version to the colored, as it really shows off Mayhew’s illustration skills. The final Variant I found is another Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher, this time focusing on Snaggletooth. Christopher, again, does an outstanding job, with the plastic around the figure looking aged and the shine around the border excellent. Overall grades: Main A-, Pencil Variant A+, and Action Figure Variant A+

The story: Writer Jason Aaron has crafted a story “From the Journals of Old Ben Kenobi” which tells a tale of the Jedi as he watched over young Luke Skywalker. The issue opens with Skywalker, aged about 12, flying his T-16 through Beggar’s Canyon as his friends, including Biggs Darklighter, watch. Also watching, from afar, is Ben Kenobi, who hopes the boy is feeling the Force has he plunges into the craggy rock. A quick transition shows that Luke’s flight didn’t go as smoothly as planned, earning the ire of Uncle Owen Lars. Luke says if he was allowed to race he would be able to pay for the damage, but Owen grounds him, “…Because as long as I live…you’ll never fly again.” Ben, however, doesn’t witness this exchange, instead opting to help out a group who’s been having troubles of late. Aaron answers some of the questions the original film left dangling and he makes them entertaining. I’ve always wondered what a Jedi would do if they couldn’t use their skills. Aaron answers that. I’ve wondered if Owen ever confronted Ben. Aaron answers that. Page 17 has an awesome declaration by the former general of the Clone Wars and it made my heart sing. The issue isn’t done on this page, though. The last three pages introduce a character into this series who’s already appeared in earlier issues, though this installment would now count as his first chronological appearance. I’m interested to see what Aaron is going to do with this individual. This issue nicely fills in the gaps from the films and creates some new adventures for the forcibly retired Jedi. Overall grade: A

The art: Mike Mayhew has already made himself familiar to Star Wars fans with his illustrating The Star Wars from Dark Horse Comics. His illustrations looked photo-realistic in that series and they are equally impressive in this issue. Luke’s T-16 looks fantastic as it races over the surface of Tatooine. When Luke first appears it’s impossible not to share in his joy as he speeds along. Ben’s first appearance is excellent, with the point of view of the panel making it epic. The transition between Pages 3 and 4 is like watching a film, as the “edit” is fun. The expressions on the characters’ faces throughout are outstanding, with the rage and frustration coming out of Owen foreshadowing his tired, bitter nature in regards to Luke when old man is encountered in A New Hope. It’s Ben, though, who, rightly, steals the book. He is fantastic on Pages 8 and 9 and they will become images that will be copied and spoken of endlessly by fans when the question of Ben’s fighting ability comes up. My favorite panel involving the old man is at the bottom of 10, which is a flawless match for the text that precedes it. It’s also impossible not to mention Ben’s final appearance in this book on 17; if this moment were in a film, the audience would roar. Without spoiling the final three pages, they also look good, with the familiar setting and character looking just as they did in the film. There’s no credited colorist for this issue, so it must be Mayhew as well. The colors are movie realistic, with the canyons, sunsets, and shadows incredible. Lars’s final appearance is kicked up a level because of the spectacular colors, and the first panel on Page 18 is beautiful. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration and dialogue (the same font), transmissions and droid speak (the same font), sounds, and two alien wails are created by VC’s Chris Eliopoulos. I’ve been very disappointed with this franchise’s lettering, and it only continues to drop, as Eliopoulos uses the same font twice for four different types of communication. The shape of the dialogue balloon is used to differentiate certain speech, when the font of the letters should be visually dictating a difference. This may not be Eliopoulos’s decision, but I’m not liking it. The dialogue is also too thin a font, weakening everyone’s speech. I expect much better. Overall grade: C

The final line: With exception to the lettering, this is a good book, showing what Ben and Luke were doing between films. Must reading for Star Wars fans. 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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