In Review: Star Wars #9

This is the standard that every Star Wars comic should be held to.

The cover: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, and Justin Ponsor have created another fantastic cover for this series. This time Han and Leia are shown in massive three-quarter profiles as Sana Solo takes the foreground. She pulls her cloak tighter to her, while her other hand holds an enormous blaster. All the characters look fantastic, with Han and Leia looking like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. Sana is an original character but fits in smoothly next to the pair of established leads. The illustration is fantastic and the coloring superb; the tan/rust coloring on the leads looks great and makes Sana really pop. Overall grade: A+

The story: When Luke Skywalker was last seen he was in hot pursuit of a thief (with gloves that can produce an electrical current) who had stolen his lightsaber. The Jedi-to-be was running and leaping after the villain through the streets of Nal Shadda, the Smuggler’s Moon. His physical abilities are beyond that of a normal biped, as those who witness his leaps are frozen in their tracks. After reaching a roof and tumbling out of a roll, he contacts Artoo-Deeto for the droid’s location. The thief makes a desperate leap to grasp onto a low flying ship. Zipping away, the antagonist gloats. “Nice try, off-worlder! Too bad you roof-run like a farmer! Welcome to Smuggler’s Moon! Ha!” The man stops his teasing when Luke leaps at him, with the distance being over one hundred yards. Luke grabs a hold of the man’s leg, who lets go of the transport, and they both go spiraling down to the ground. This excellent action sequence by Jason Aaron redeems Luke a little for the blunder he made bursting into the cantina in the previous issue: he’s using his Jedi abilities to retrieve the one item that connects him to his father. In fact, Luke has an outstanding line in the third panel on Page 5; I would have stood and applauded if this were said in a film. Just as it seems the Tatooine born boy’s luck is turning, an arrival on 6 changes everything, especially with the pair protecting this individual. Meanwhile, back on “An unknown world in the Outer Rim”, the TIE fighter pilots have landed, looking for Han and Leia, who are still being held at gunpoint by Sana. Things are revealed, a decision is made, and then a chase begins. Being a tremendous Luke fan, I was mesmerized with happens to Skywalker. The best stories are the ones that make a reader go, “Why wasn’t this done before?” This is one of those stories from Aaron. I do wish that the species that was holding Luke was different, as this species has been overexposed the way Boba Fett’s been oversued. Still, this is a minor grouse. I was enthralled with Luke’s tale, a little more interested in Han and Leia’s story, and the final page’s tease has me bouncing in glee at who appears. This was incredibly entertaining and felt like a classic Star Wars tale. Overall grade: A+  

The art: Stunning work again from penciller Stuart Immonen and inker Wade von Grawbadger. The opening partial double-page splash instantly has readers fall into the Star Wars universe, and following it up with five panels of Luke bolting over city roofs to get to his prey was exciting. When Luke is clearly shown for the first time in the final panel on Page 2 he looks beautiful. There’s no reason to think that Immonen and von Grawbadger are only good on the film characters: check out the villain with the saber in the third panel on Page 3 — that’s a fantastic facial expression as he’s taunting Luke. When the pair fall from the sky it looks completely realistic due to their poses, and I love that the object of their desire is in the foreground with Luke reaching out, as he plummets, to grab it. The setting on Page 5 is amazing; so much debris in such a scummy place. And speaking of “scum”, the character on Page 6 makes quite the entrance. I really like what was around this individual’s neck — so cool! The TIE pilots look fantastic, and seeing them in action was a special treat, especially when one goes down as only a trooper can. The action in the first panel on Page 10 was excellent; the crosshatching done in the background was a slick way to establish a setting without taking away any focus from the fighting. The reveal on 13 was terrific, and I swear I could hear Dave Filoni cry out at what’s shown in the third panel. The “activation” scene was awesome, as was Luke’s reaction to what he’s done. The last page of the issue evoked a big “Hell, yeah!” from me. This artwork is some of the best Star Wars has ever seen. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The coloring by Justin Ponsor on the opening double-page spread instantly tells readers that this setting is not a good place. It’s the epitome of a wretched hive of scum and villainy, with the colors being brown and rust, implying that any corner could pierce one’s skin and start a case of tetanus. Luke’s yellow jacket and hair set him instantly apart from those that live in this hole. The bright energy that comes out of the ships and the thief’s glove are spectacular, eventually being one-upped by the individuals protecting the antagonist of the piece. The skies where Han, Leia, and Sana are located are stunners in orange, which effects the skin tones of the characters. Gorgeous pale blues are brought to life by Ponsor in Luke’s big reveal scene, taking my breath as they appeared. And brown and gold never looked more beautiful than on the final page. Perfection! Overall grade: A+

The letters: I’ve been chiding the usual letterer of Star Wars comics because I haven’t liked the thin font used for dialogue. Chris Eliopoulos is the letterer of this issue, but the same thin dialogue exists, and it just doesn’t look right. Everyone looks weak when they speak, with it only looking good when someone yells, which is a lot in this issue. The scene settings are the same as in previous issues, and this font also looks incorrect for this franchise — too plain and too blocky. Additionally, there are not enough sounds in this books. I’m still flabbergasted why Marvel has chosen to hit mute for laser blasts and lightsaber sounds. These are iconic sounds, and they’re not being used. It’s not Eliopoulos’ choice to insert them, but editor Jordan B. White should have them placed. This book — this franchise — is incomplete without them. Overall grade: B-

The final line: This is the standard that every Star Wars comic should be held to. Recommended. 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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