In Review: Captain Phasma #1

This addresses what Phasma was doing after going in with the garbage, with a neat premise stated for future issues.

NOTE: According to the legalese under the book’s credits, the official title for this series is Journey To Star Wars: The Last Jedi — Captain Phasma #1. I’ll be referring to this series as only Captain Phasma.

The covers: I was able to locate nine different covers online, but there could be more. The Regular cover is by Paul Renaud and has Phasma standing with a monstrous blaster in her hands. Her cape is splaying out behind her as an orange explosion’s wake plays out. Over her right shoulder is the Millennium Falcon pursued by some TIE fighters, while over her left is Kylo Ren and Rey dueling in the snow. Nicely done. The Skottie Young Variant cover has a Li’l Phasma standing in a garbage masher, looking perturbed. Funny, but really sketchy. The colors blanket the art, making it seem sloppy. Todd Nauck’s Variant is a nice take on Where’s Waldo with an incredibly populated cover showing the deck of a Star Destroyer featuring a ton of characters engaged in some First Order business. I’d love to see this as a poster. The Funko Variant cover is by Diego Olortegui and has a POP! character interpretation of the character telling her troopers to move foreword. Neat, if one is a fan of this line of statuettes. There’s a Blank Sketch Variant cover that has only the title of the series at the top, allowing a fan to get an original illustration on it or have the series’ creators sign it. A great idea, but it isn’t impressive while blank. The Movie Variant cover has a close up of the character which looks neat. Paulina Ganucheau’s Variant cover is a homage that has the villain on Starkiller Base’s exterior, with the ground splitting beneath her. There’s a lot of text on this which gives it a retro feel, but distracts from the image. The sensational Mark Brooks does a Variant featuring Phasma before four stormtroopers with gigantic Kylo Ren behind them, his ignited saber raised. Flat out awesomeness! The final cover I could find is a Mark Brooks Sketch Variant, which shows the pencils and inks he submitted for the previous cover before colors were applied. A neat way to see the artist’s process and one worth picking up. Overall grades: Regular A, Skottie Young Variant C-, Todd Nauck Variant A+, Funko Variant B-, Blank Sketch Variant C, Movie Variant A-, Paulina Ganucheau Variant B-, Mark Brooks Variant A+, and Mark Brooks Sketch Variant A+

The story: Captain Phasma opens the issue by beginning a recording concerning the final moments of Starkiller Base. Writer Kelly Thompson then shows what wasn’t shown in The Force Awakens: Phasma getting out of the garbage. She makes her way to the nearest computer access point to find out how the defenses were so easily breached, dodging the debris and bodies being tossed about by the Resistance’s attacks. A blaster rifle bumps up against something, causing it to fire, with the blast ricocheting around the corridor and striking Phasma’s cape. This causes her to raise her head in acknowledgement to the battle occurring in the sky between X-wings and TIE fighters. Once at her destination, Phasma does something to preserve her position in the First Order and allows her to discover that there was a possible mole in the station. In the time remaining, Phasma is going to do everything she can to locate this individual, unaware that the station is soon to explode. Phasma’s perseverance under pressure is commendable and shows her to be worthy of being an officer, but there isn’t much tension in the story because anyone who saw the film and is aware of the upcoming sequel knows that she survives to make it to The Last Jedi. That’s not to say there aren’t some good moments, with Page 11 being outstanding and her words to some troopers on 12 cool. Thankfully, the issue ends with the destruction of Starkiller Base, allowing Phasma to move beyond the film. That I’m looking forward to. Overall grade: B

The art: There’s a lot of blurring off Marco Checchetto’s artwork and that’s an incredible disservice to what he does. The first page introduces the character beginning her report, but it’s the second, larger, panel on the page where Phasma truly stands revealed, and it’s as she’s leaving the garbage. She looks great, even if she’s surrounded by a mess. The chaos around her on Page 2 is great, but the explosion at the bottom of the page is undone by the blur to enhance the blast. It looks awful. This is repeated in the last panel on Page 3. Checchetto is communicating the action well enough; this blur only makes the computer distortion obvious, like bad blue screen effects on films from the 1970s. The double-paged spread showing the fighting between the ships would have been immensely better without all the blurring. Better is the return to the base’s interiors as Phasma gets to the console she needs and discovers the character she’s going to hunt down. 9 has Checchetto using some excellent layouts with circles to have the reader’s focus mirror Phasma’s, but there’s another of those disruptive blurs again. The most impressive image of the book is on 11, with this character living up to the awesomeness that was promised before Episode VII released. The tight quarters of the book’s final location on 19 are very well done, with the point of view moving around enough to cement in the reader’s mind how small the space is. There’s much to enjoy in Checchetto’s work, but will someone at Marvel quit blurring artists’ work. Overall grade: B

The colors: As with Darth Vader, Phasma’s costume provides difficulties for colorists. The title character of this book has a reflective surface, so any colors that surround her are also going to gloss over her armor. Andres Mossa does a good job in keeping Phasma’s costume shiny and reflective. The light that reflects in her helmet in the first panel is excellent. It’s quickly followed by a large panel that’s outstanding in luminescent colors. Laser fire is particular strong throughout the book, as there are several explosions. I wish that the battle on 4 and 5 had colors that weren’t as smeared to create speed, as what’s on that page is overpowering the ships. Greens are used to show Phasma’s point of view through her helmet and it’s a neat addition to her character that wasn’t seen in TFA. The colors on 19 contain some nice muted reds, giving the situation and the setting a frantic and evil feel. As with the art, the blurring of colors does not help the reading experience. Overall grade: B

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles has created settings, dialogue, narration, sounds, computer speech, and a scream. The font used for Star Wars comics’ dialogue is too thin to command any power for characters’ speech. Only when characters scream is there any strength. However, I was exceedingly pleased to see that the captain’s narration was given a different font from the dialogue, which is what narration should always have. There were some sounds in this book, which were good, though more would have made the destruction more engaging. A good job, but nothing spectacular. Overall grade: B

The final line: This addresses what Phasma was doing after going in with the garbage, with a neat premise stated for future issues. I’m hoping the horrible computer blurs were destroyed with Starkiller Base, as the visuals don’t require the effect. With this ending I am interested to see what Phasma does next. 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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