In Review: Star Wars #2

The ideas are here, but the end result needs work. Marvel, make this better.

The covers: The Main cover is done by John Cassaday and Laura Martin. It’s got Han and Chewie hiding behind some debris, with Han giving the Wookie the intergalactic symbol for “Shush!” They think the villains have gone, but if they were to look from their safe spot they’d see that Darth Vader is standing above them, accompanied by two Imperial walkers, two scout walkers, and tons of stormtroopers. I think they’ll get out of this somehow. The layout is clever, but has nothing to do with this issue. I’d rather see a Main cover be more reflective of what’s in an actual book. This seems more suited for a Variant cover. The coloring is good, especially with the orange and yellow sunset/dawn behind the walkers. There are also several variants, but Marvel neither provides images of them or a listing. This is unbelievably disappointing. When Guardians of the Galaxy relaunched, all the variants were included in the book. I wish Marvel would reinstate this policy: it would only increase sales if fans could see what’s available. Overall grade: B+

The story: “Skywalker Strikes” begins with Luke and Vader confronting each other for the first time since the battle of the Death Star. The Sith Lord doesn’t know who Luke is and is unaware that he’s the pilot that destroyed the space station. All he knows is there’s a boy before him with a lightsaber who claims he killed his father.  He defeats the farm boy with one strike and disarms him, but not before Luke yells, “You killed Master Kenobi!” Using the Force, Vader claims the blue lightsaber. An ultimatum is given: tell Vader everything he knows about the Rebellion and lead him to the pilot who destroyed the Death Star. “Speak quickly, or join your father.” “I’d rather die than yield to you,” replies Luke. Raising both sabers to decapitate Luke as Count Dooku was killed, Vader says, “So be it.” It’s safe to say that writer Jason Aaron is giving fans a meaty confrontation right out of the gate. Just as Vader is about to deliver the killing blow, he notices something on the weapon from the Clone Wars and then the unexpected happens. There’s a clever bit of foreshadowing from Return of the Jedi in the second panel on Page 5, which ups the ante of the action. Page 6 has Vader mowing down opponents left and right, and extremely focused in catching Luke. The arguing between Han and Leia is terrific, but when the story moves to C-3PO it’s terrible. I can’t believe for a second that even he would do that. Just as Luke seems trapped, he finds a way out–Tatoonie style. Page 16 has Han and Leia make an impressive contribution to the chaos. Page 19 seemed too silly and took me out of all the wonderful tension that had been built up. However, by the final page the tension is again building. Outside of Threepio and Page 19, fun. Overall grade: B

The art: A hot and cold mess of visuals, with the familiar characters bringing me out of the story. John Cassaday is trying to make the characters look as much as the actors who played them and is moderately successful. Luke is fine on the first two pages, but the fourth panel on Page 3 has him gaining a good twenty pounds when he stoops down. After this panel, Luke looks fine. Han and Leia look good throughout the issue, as does Artoo, but Threepio looks chunky and his face is terrible. Anthony Daniels would be embarrassed if he thought people believed he looked that thick. Vader’s helmet is also a little wonky in this issue: Page 4, panel one; Page 13, panel two; and, Page 20. That last image has too much shine on it, so the design of the helmet is lost. There’s a lot of action going on involving transports of various sizes, and they look good. There are also several characters in blaster fights or hand to hand. The last panel on Page 5 has really simple characters attacking the troopers; they don’t even look like they belong in the same movie, let alone comic. The same thing happens in the final panel on 7. Cassaday can draw stormtroopers fine, be they standing or getting knocked over, but if the characters they’re supposed to be battling don’t look as good as they do, there’s just no believability. Disappointing. Overall grade: C

The colors: Blaster fire, explosions, and lightsabers brings some strong colors to this book. Due to the setting, the colors are primarily muted or dark, which is fine, but I wish it was just a bit brighter to see the details in this massive battle. The most impressive page by Laura Martin is 16 which is absolutely beautiful. The coloring increases the excitement tenfold. Overall grade: B+

The letters: The font used for the dialogue looks frail. I’m not liking that Vader’s dialogue font is the same as other character’s dialogue. Shouldn’t it be different since he’s talking through a mechanical device? I also don’t like that yells, such as Luke’s on Page 1, go so far outside the dialogue balloon. It visually makes it look as though characters are falling down a hole. Threepio’s voice is rightly in an italicized version of the dialogue font and one alien race speaks in undecipherable symbols–that I really like. I want Chris Eliopoulos to change up much of what he’s doing. Overall grade: D+

The final line: The ideas are here, but the end result needs work. Nowhere near the caliber of a Dark Horse comic. Marvel, make this better. 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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