In Review: The Last Jedi – DJ – Most Wanted

I wasn't prepared to like this book, but I did. Definitely worth checking out.

The covers: Four covers to have as your most wanted if you have to collect them all. The Regular cover is by Jeff Dekal, and used in this review, has a happy DJ behind bars, wearing the clothes he had in The Last Jedi. Everything about him says he’s not going to be staying there long and his smile makes him endearing. Nicely done and gives the reader all of this character in one image. The Dave Johnson Variant is the most diverse of all the covers. DJ is playing Dejarik against a bald opponent. Surrounding the pair are several aliens, none of whom look familiar, save the Wermal in the upper right because one appeared in Episode VIII. The characters look great and I’m glad to see that DJ is a gambler not only in the casinos of Canto Bight, but in the lower areas where average sentients meet. The coloring on this is not bright, reinforcing that this is a place not shown in the film. The Rod Reis Variant shows DJ again behind bars, but this time on his back. He’s laying in a cot with his hands behind his head and his legs crossed, biding his time until he can be released. He looks up at the reader because he has nothing better to focus on. I like the way the character looks and the coloring really shows off the unseen bars. The cover that I had to purchase was the Movie Variant. This features a bust shot of DJ, played by Benicio Del Toro, from the scene in The Last Jedi where he’s confronted by Finn aboard the ship he stole. I’m a fan of photocovers and this is a great one. Overall grades: Regular A-, Johnson Variant A, Reis Variant A-, and Movie Variant A+

The story: This thirty page one-shot by Ben Acker & Ben Blacker begins with DJ in one of Canto Bight’s casinos. He’s playing holo-cards and making a droid worry more than it should. He’s betting large sums of money and losing. The droid is trying to tell him to change his betting or he’ll soon be broke. DJ smiles, asks to be hit, and loses. He takes all but one chip and tips the dealer. It’s at this point he’s joined by police officers Pol Ipol and Oosha Choi, who sit on either side of him. They say they’re there to gamble and shoo off the droid. As they play their cards absently they tell DJ they want to talk to him about two open cases. The first involves “Flestic Crupp, a Rodian arms dealer…No. That’s too kind a word. Death merchant is what he is. He had his self-stats and code-cards stolen whilst availing himself of Zord’s spa and bathhouse.” DJ claims ignorance. The second case is of an innocent women who “brought water to desert planets in need. She won a trip to Canto in one of these contests.” She, too, had her self-stats and code-cards stolen. Again DJ claims ignorance. Once this premise is established, Was DJ responsible?, the action begins with the cops trying to rough up the title character. A slew of new characters are revealed, all of whom DJ uses and abuses, in non-physical ways, to escape capture. The joy of this story, and I enjoyed it considerably, is how DJ is able to finagle his way out of danger. There are some excellent twists, several surprises, and plenty of action, all with DJ maintaining his cool. His character is expanded considerably. This is a book definitely worth checking out. Overall grade: A

The art: In addition to the story being entertaining, the pencils by Kevin Walker and inks by Marc Deering are strong. The first page has a slow pull in to DJ, beginning with Canto Bight in space, pulling in to its many buildings, then to the traffic of people on the streets at night, before landing on DJ at the table betting. I love the holo-cards before the character which are transparent. On either side of him are two well know species of alien, instantly placing this story in the Star Wars universe. He looks just like Benicio Del Toro in every panel on every page, capturing the actor’s ability to look confident, worried, and absolutely indifferent to his peril. The first seven pages have him sitting at this table, taking drinks and betting. He looks exactly as any unremarkable gambler would in a casino. Pol Ipol and Oosha Choi look like cops trying to be sly, with one being the good cop and the other the bad cop. The character and his bodyguards that appear on 8 look sensational: I especially like the character in the foreground. He’s got a terrific design and is the perfect embodiment of the establishment. The next page is a full-paged splash that’s terrific in showing DJ betting over a long period of time, as he’s being watched. Even without the text, it’s obvious what the illustration is conveying. The new characters on 12 are equally impressive, with the leader’s smoking instrument a sensational prop. Pages 14 and 15 are a new location that show the passage of time outstandingly; I especially love the object behind glass in the third panel on 14 as it’s a sly nod to the Body Works displays that are found throughout the world. Two new characters are introduced on 17 and they are exact opposites, but both look fantastic. I’ve never seen any of the later character’s species look so massive. Some terrific action follows, including an outstandingly illustrated chase. This book looks great. Overall grade: A

The colors: Java Tartaglia’s colors capture the glamour of Canto Bight and also the shady underpinnings of this world. The opening page introduces this from the get go, with the bright orange lights of the casinos lighting the people and places, but DJ’s first appearance has him shaded, giving him a sinister tone. There’s a constant shadow on his face throughout the book, as if he couldn’t get out of the darkness if he tried. The holo-cards are stunningly rendered, being multicolored but also transparent, giving them their holographic feel. The police officers have no shadows, showing that they can be clearly seen in the light. The full-paged splash that shows DJ gambling is full of all the bright miscellanea used to gamble in a casino. The characters that are introduced on 12 are dully colored, even though some have bright shades; suggesting all have lost their inner light due to their vocations. The vehicle used during the chase has some sensational colors that give its pages a classic 1950’s feel. Unquestionably, the colors enhance the art. Overall grade: A 

The letters: This book’s text includes narration and dialogue (the same font), droid speech, yells, sounds, and the book’s final two words. Crafted by VC’s Clayton Cowles, the text looks okay. There aren’t many scenes needing sounds until close to the end, so the majority of the book contains dialogue. The dialogue is easy to read, but due to its thin stature it makes even the tough talk of policemen and other antagonists seem week. This is a constant problem in Marvel’s Star Wars line of comics. Also not helping is narration and dialogue being the same font, differentiated only by the shape of their balloons and colors. Again, the text is readable, but these two nicks do stand out. Overall grade: B+

The final line: I wasn’t prepared to like this book, but I did. Being a Star Wars junkie, I had to check it out. The story expands DJ a bit, though only in how he operates his funds and life on Canto Bight. I would be more than welcome to more tales of this character if the same team were to create them. The visuals are fantastic, with DJ resembling Del Toro well. I enjoyed this DJ more so than the character in the The Last Jedi. He has much more to do. This was an enjoyable read. Overall grade: A

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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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