In Review: Star Wars #3

Exciting action that shoots itself in the foot for going mute.

The cover: Previewing why this issue’s story is titled “Skywalker Strikes”, Luke has his lightsaber ignited to take out any of the stormtroopers who aren’t felled by the blaster on his speeder bike. This scene does occur in this issue and is a nice showcase cover for the young Jedi. The swirling mass of troopers makes this impressive. Good art by John Cassaday and solid coloring by Laura Martin, both of whom are responsible for the interior images of this issue. Overall grade: A

The story: There’s barely a moment to breathe in this story that’s full of a lot of action. The first page shows the carnage that’s broken out at the weapons facility on Cymoon 1. An Imperial Walker goes down a street, shooting at stormtroopers, the slave labor of the facility is being taken down by troopers, Luke Skywalker is on a speeder bike trying to strike down stormtroopers, and slowly making his way through the debris is Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader. The second page reveals that Han and Leia are in the walker, biding their time until See-Threepio can get the Millennium Falcon to them. The problem is the droid has been overcome by tentacled scavengers who have taken him apart and are about to do the same to the Corellian’s ship. Luckily Chewbacca arrives to save the day, only now Leia and Han’s walker is being attacked by several Scout Walkers, assault tanks, and combat speeders. They’re not going to last long unless they get some backup, and Luke is speeding there as quickly as he can. Jason Aaron has got the story moving at a breakneck pace, and he only ups the tension when Vader decides to get involved. His focus on Page 10 foreshadows his drive from The Empire Strikes Back and Luke shows he’s grown from being a timid farmboy in fine fashion. Leia gets some good lines at Han’s expense at the end of this issue, which is always fun to hear. The final two pages are taking the book in a completely new direction as a famous location is revisited and something is shown that teases a wide range of things. Where are you going, Mr. Aaron? All I know is take me with you! Overall grade: A+

The art: Lots of action scenes done in the preferred way of Marvel’s Star Wars line–rectangular boxes. Occasionally there’s a large panel for dramatic effects (Pages 3, 4, and 9), but the majority of this book is done in letterbox style frames. This does give the book an instantly recognizable cinematic feel, and allows artist John Cassaday to crowd the panels with lots of details, which is extremely effective when there’s action occurring. The first page is an excellent example of this with explosions, smoke, and bodies. His likenesses of the human characters is the best of his run so far, with Han Solo looking just like Harrison Ford, and Leia as Carrie Fisher, but it’s Luke Skywalker who steals the book with the most emotional shots, looking just like Mark Hamill. My favorite page of the book is 10, which features four shots of our heroes trying to escape from Vader and several stormtroopers. There is a really nicely done action scene involving Vader on Pages 6 – 9, though there are too many lines in Vader’s eyes for the final panel hurting the reality of the situation. Also of a questionable look are the combat speeders. They are not designed well and are so blocky as to make them appear to be rejected Kenner vessels done at the end of the 1980s line. Having Vader in one of these did not make it any cooler. For classical ships and characters, Cassaday is doing a wonderful job, but when it comes to those of his own creation, the ships and Falcon scavengers, leave a lot to be desired. Thankfully, there’s not much call for original design on this book. Overall grade: B+

The colors: The setting is a weapons facility on a dirt colored world. If colorist Laura Martin doesn’t mix her palette well this book could be a dingy mess. However, Martin shows her skills deftly with sensational coloring. All of the elements that could be a coloring death trap are present on the first page, but Martin uses oranges and yellows in the laser fire and explosions to punch up the scenes. The bottom panel of Vader walking through the remains of a recent battle are brown and tan, but the focus, rightly, goes to Vader who is backlit by some clouds. Excellent job. Page 14 is the highlight of the book for Martin, who has a lot of explosions and highlights characters amazingly in all the destruction. It’s beautiful. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, droid speak, alien unspeakables, Wookie roars, a yell, a computer’s warning, and Artoo’s beeps are done by Chris Eliopoulos. I’m not a fan of sounds or yells escaping beyond dialogue balloons unless they’re centered, and every time Chewie makes an utterance, his sound comes several letters before the balloon. Why is this done? It seems to denote he’s falling down a well. I would rather see the balloon extended to contain his speech, than have it look like a sloppy last minute job. I’m also still left hanging at the lack of sounds in this book. This is not Eliopoulos’s call, but I’m placing it here because he would insert them if he were allowed to. This book is a silent movie of action that dilutes the excitement down because of its continuing lack of sound effects. Ben Burtt has won Academy Awards for Sound and Sound Editing for Star Wars and Return of the Jedi, and this series disregards his achievements by ignoring his contributions. Shame on you, Marvel, for making this book mute. I mean, c’mon, not even the ominous sound of Vader igniting his lightsaber? For shame! Overall grade: D 

The final line: Exciting action that shoots itself in the foot for going mute. 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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