In Review: Star Wars #17

The storytelling is on autopilot, but the art is slowly improving.

The covers: Four to find if the Force is with you. The Main cover is Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson, showing Luke and Han in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. Luke looks a lot happier than Han does, so that can’t be a good sign. The Dodsons continue to make some amazing artwork and the colors on this are outstanding, with Luke’s mustard colored jacked drawing the focus on this image. The Sketch Variant cover is the same as the Main cover, just without colors. If one is a fan of the Dodsons’ work, this is for you. I most definitely am, but I have to admit to preferring this colored. The Variant cover is by Leinil Francis Yu and has Luke front and center, flanked by Han on his right and Chewbacca on his left. The Falcon is most visible behind all three, pointed up, with all atop a really washed out blue background. Luke looks incredibly awkward in this image, like a preschooler on picture day, and the coloring is splotchy on the humans’ faces. The final variant is the Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher. This features Walrus Man, who would eventually be come to known as Ponda Baba. If you’ve been collecting these covers, this is another excellent addition. Overall grades: Main A, Sketch Variant A-, Variant Yu C+, and Action Figure Variant A

The story: Leia has gone to Sunspot Prison to drop off Doctor Aphra. Several droids broke into the facility at the end of last issue. Having taken out the IG-RM droids, Leia contacts the control room to find their leader, who has not identified him or herself, is there with his comrades to take care of those “beyond salvation.” Two droids in Cell-Block Seven then begin mowing down prisoners stuck in their cells. She rushes there to destroy the droids and then her opponent turns out the power in that section, releasing seventeen murderers from their cells. Things aren’t going to go easily for Leia. Meanwhile, on Nar Shaddaa, Han and Luke are trying to recoup the money Han lost gambling. Part II of “Rebel Jail” by Jason Aaron is an improvement over last issue, which was setting up this action, but it still continues to be a by-the-numbers story. If anyone has been reading any type of prison story or seen any film set in this environment within the last ten years, the conclusion of this issue won’t be a surprise. The Han and Luke story continues to seem unimportant to the Leia story, and comes off as Abbott and Costello in space. This feels like storytelling on autopilot. Overall grade: C

The art: The visuals by penciller Leinil Francis Yu and inker Gerry Alanguilan are better this issue, though there are still problems. All three of the leads look good, with Leia looking the best and shown the most, as she’s the A story. She looks the best during close-ups, but she looks fine from a distance. The top of Page 9 has a great reveal for one of the characters, and that was the best image of the book. Doctor Aphra is also well drawn, with two panels of her on 17 having her at her best; I especially like how well she’s captured in the first panel. When the lights go out Yu and Alanguilan have several good pages where they get to play with black and whites (which get colored red) and they are very impressive; they’ve captured a very cinematic feel for what can be seen and what cannot. The robotic and armored antagonists do not fare as well. These characters look out of focus; the panel that crosses from Page 3 onto 4, the first panel on 5, the first panel on 6, and the third on 18 show this. The Falcon’s first and last appearance are also very sketchy. Page 15’s first image contains a photo insertion that sticks out like bad CGI, and if it’s not, it’s done so poor to resemble it. And what’s up with the background in the first panel on 10? What a mess; it looks incredibly messy. Overall grade: C+

The colors: Who would have thought that having invaders blasting into a prison would have eliminated the over the top use of brights? The first six pages show Sunny Gho has toned down the harsh colors used to emphasize the bright exterior and it allows the visuals to be much more easily seen. When the lights go out in the prison, reds are used to show emergency lighting and they provide a good bit of tension to the imagery. The panel that crosses from Page 2 onto 3 has very dim colors, which suit the scene, given the control room was shot up; however, every panel after that in this setting is brighter. Consistency is needed with the colors for this setting. The first panel on 15 is washed out; it’s impossible to find a focus because of the coloring. As with the art, this is better, but there are still issues. Overall grade: B-

The letters: Dialogue, transmissions, a scene setting, and yells are created by Chris Eliopoulos. The scene setting for this issue is a change in the way Star Wars books by Marvel have been doing them and it looks much better. Sadly, the dialogue continues to be too thin a font, but that’s been an editorial decision. Eliopoulos does sensational sound effects, check out any issue of Savage Dragon, and sadly, for all the blaster fire in this book, he’s not given an opportunity to provide sounds. It’s not Eliopoulos, it’s Marvel. Overall grade: C

The final line: The storytelling is on autopilot, but the art is slowly improving. Not terrific, though, any way you look at it. Overall grade: C

 

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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