In Review: Beckett #1

The story is fun, but mixed visuals hurt the book's impact.

The covers: Three different fontpieces to find, just as there are three members of Beckett’s gang. The Regular cover is by John Tyler Christopher and instead of doing an expected Action Figure Variant cover, of which I am a rabid fan, he does a spectacular moody piece of the title character. The title character is to the left of the illustration; a full figure of him stands with his hands at his sides, ready to pull his blasters to shoot first. A breeze blows the tails of his jacket slightly back. To his right are silhouettes of Rio and Val. The background is a light violet that shows the rising sun on a desolate world. A gigantic image of Enfys Nest’s mask is emerging in profile from behind Beckett to dominate the image. This is a winner in every possible way. The credits for the book are at the bottom of the page, allowing the illustration to dominate. Simply wonderful! The Variant cover is by Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson. A bust shot of Beckett gazes at the reader with derision. To his left is Rio Durant, moving his goggles up with one pair of his hands. In the background is a small Enfys Nest. With one hand on her hip and her other holding her blaster high is Val to Tobias’s right. In the sky are several of Enfys’s gang on their speeders. Great looking cover, but when don’t the Dodsons deliver the goods? Anything by this pair should be sought out. The Movie Variant features an image of Woody Harrelson from the film Solo when Beckett first appears. He has pistols in both hands as he looks to his right. He’s wearing the armor he stole from an Imperial officer, needed to hijack a particular transport. I’m a fan of photocovers and this is one to find! Overall grades: All A+

The story: Gerry Duggan is the author of this thirty page story that’s broken into three chapters: “The Man in Black,” “To Live and Die on Hovun IV,” and “You and the Bantha You Rode In On.” The book opens on Hovun IV where Rio Durant is playing against five opponents in a game of Sabacc, which he says is new to him. He doesn’t look to be doing too well when a cloaked figure enters the establishment. It’s a Death Priest. His appearance frightens all, especially Durant, who can barely eek out that he was going to return the priest’s credits but there were problems. The dark figure raises a fist ominously which causes Durant to put all his hands to his throat. The Ardennian is thrown backwards onto the table as he’s choked to death. Val yells, “Everyone out!” and all run for their lives. One blue skinned alien passes close to Val as he leaves, allowing her to drop something into one of his pockets. With the place emptied, Durant sits up. Beckett, the Death Priest, removes his hood and smiles. “Nobody dies like you, Rio.” The Ardennian scoops up the winnings left on the table, while Val tells them the tracker she put on Dvorad is working. When Rio asks why they’re going after him, Val responds, “With the Empire tightening control of the planetary trade routes, blank I.D. chips are becoming priceless. And Dvorad’s the only chump in the system with a supply.” That’s the setup for this story that features lots of action and some solid twists and turns as this trio of bandits tries to take the chips from Dvorad and make some quick coin. The dialogue rings true to the characters, with Beckett’s dialogue sounding like Harrelson’s cadence. The middle chapter has the most action, with a creature, a crew, and a sinking ship, providing trouble. The final chapter features one of the villains from the film, who was good to see (Hey, Marvel–How about giving that character a miniseries?). The issue closes out with a neat bookend. This story was enjoyable and has me wanting to see more adventures of this crew. Overall grade: A

The art: There are three different artists for this one-shot and the results are mixed. “The Man in Black” is illustrated by Edgar Salazar. The first page sets up the location extremely well, showing an outpost peopled with all sorts of interesting and familiar aliens. The entrance of the Death Priest is very well done, looking as if a Sith has made the scene. Val’s introduction is great, with her looking just like Thandie Newton. When Beckett takes off his hood to reveal his face the likeness to Harrelson is okay. The action that kicks in on Page 6 is great, with the point of view moving about expertly. The danger that a character finds himself in on 8 is outstanding, making me think of an Indiana Jones moment. The full-paged splash that ends the chapter looks outstanding. It’s a fantastic entrance. Salazar’s work is good, except on Beckett, which is not good when he’s the lead on this book. “To Live and Die on Hovun IV” has Marc Laming handling the illustrations and this looks fantastic. The characters from the film most definitely resemble the actors from the big screen. The second page of this chapter has an entrance of a creature that’s spectacular: the monster looks terrific and the ship’s response is excellent. Page 4 is killer of a page with an individual having an incredible exit. The interior scenes within the ship look great, with loads of details, making all the action that occurs realistic. The action on 6 is funny, cool, and incredibly easy to follow. Pages 7 and 8 have some epic action that would be a budget breaker for a film. They look great. The joy on the characters’ faces on 9 is perfect, and the exit on 10 is similar to many transitions in the Star Wars film saga. “You and the Bantha You Rode In On” is illustrated by Will Sliney and I’m not a fan of this work. On the first page Beckett looks as though he’s aged ten years from the previous chapter. Page 3 has a close-up that just does not look good. I don’t understand why the character’s hair is in motion in the fourth panel on 4 since the character has taken a stationary position to fire. The entrance of the new villains on 6 is terrific, however. Everyone in that large panel is awesome. 7 and 8 contain a lot of dialogue, but Sliney is able to provide plenty of spaces to place it, though I’m not keen with the two panels in silhouette that undercuts the story: seeing the characters’ faces at these critical moments would have increased the tension immensely. The final two pages look as though a different artist took over, as the artwork loses much of its detail. The final panel is another close-up which doesn’t look good. A single artist for this tale would have been better, as different artists make portions of this story outshine others. Overall grade: B-

The colors: There’s only one colorist for the entire issue, Jordan Boyd, and this book shows how much one can do with the artwork he or she is given. The sky of Hovun IV is a burnt orange, instantly giving the place a dirty feeling. The backlighting on the Dark Priest’s entrance is terrific, focusing the characters and the reader on the character. Notice how the backlighting turns to yellow, a more calming color, when Beckett reveals his face. The sound effects for physical fighting are strong in red. The second chapter of this tale has the best coloring because there’s so much for Boyd to work with: the creature, the ship, the characters, and the gorgeous water. For such horrific doings, these pages are beautiful. The final chapter is really dark. Granted, this installment takes place in a dark interior, but I would have preferred to see more of what was occurring. The last panel of the issue has a colorful explosion behind a character, but there’s no reason for it to be so colorful. Due to the mixed art, the colors are mixed as well. Overall grade: B- 

The letters: VC’s Travis Lanham creates the chapter headings for all three parts, scene settings, dialogue, sounds, yells, screams, and a whisper. The scene settings and dialogue are in the familiar fonts that can be found in all of Marvel’s Star Wars books. I’m not fond of either, but moving on. The yells and screams are done well, looking how one would expect them to sound. The sounds are extremely fun. They are done in several different fonts and sizes and are really fun to read aloud. Overall grade: B+

The final line: The story is fun, but mixed visuals hurt the book’s impact. Star Wars fans will be in heaven, though new readers might return this to the shelf with the different art styles. This does create a desire in me to read more of Beckett and crew’s exploits and I hope that some are created. Overall grade: B

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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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