In Review: Captain Phasma #3

This is a Phasma I would follow.

The covers: Phasma’s helmet is on the ground. Reflected in its head is a character walking away. Did this individual take Phasma down or is this Phasma herself, out of her armor? Only one way to find out and that’s to pick up this issue. This is a good tease on the Regular cover by Paul Renaud. The Movie Variant uses an image of Phasma flanked by two First Order troopers. It’s a good photo, but oddly constructed with red lines on black, suggesting they’re on an escalator. Mike Mayhew is responsible for the C cover. This is dynamite stuff! In the bay of a Star Destroyer, Kylo Ren walks forward with his lightsaber ignited. Following close behind is Phasma. Surrounding the pair, standing at attention, are several troopers. The backdrop of space can be seen through the forcefield. This is one to track down. The final cover is the D by David Lopez. This is an illustration of Phasma staring at the reader during a snowfall. Her black cape with its red piping stands out against the fall, as does her silver armor. I like this because it looks like an actual illustration from a comic book, though Lopez doesn’t do the interiors. Overall grades: A B+, B A-, C A+, and D A-

The story: The penultimate issue opens with Phasma in disguise on the planet Luprora. She and TIE fighter pilot TN-3465 are there to kill Lieutenant Sol Rivas, who has information that puts the captain’s future in jeopardy. The pair looks upon some ruins on an island that a local tells them Rivas was taken to. Unfortunately, several creatures’ tentacles writhe in the water and lap upon the island and structure. Phasma kneels at the water and dips her hand in to find it less salty than expected. What this means writer Kelly Thompson is keeping secret for a while, instead having Phasma ask when low tide occurs. Upon learning that it does nothing to quell the creatures actions, TN says, “What I wouldn’t give for our fighter’s weapons to be functional. We could blast this from the air with ease.” The trio return to the Lupro’or village, where a necklace around a child’s neck causes Phasma to react strongly. This is the best issue yet, with Phasma working several angles at once, showing that she’s a character with a quick, devious mind. Additionally, there’s a brief flashback that teases moments of her past. It’s a brief moment, to be sure, but has me yearning to see more of her background. There’s a neat reveal on 8 and if one was feeling too sympathetic for TN she shows her First Order background well with how she treats another on 9. Page 11 features a fantastic speech from Phasma that demonstrates the power of words upon others. The conversation on 12 was needed, as it’s the calm before the storm, and Phasma’s closing lines on the page are incredible. The cliffhanger at the end of the issue is the perfect ending, showing that the leads have achieved very little. This is the strongest issue yet in this series. Overall grade: A

The art: Marco Checchetto is the artist for the issue and does a fantastic job in creating the settings. The exterior of the world has it constantly in a downpour. To create rain without obscuring the characters or their destination is the mark of a strong illustrator. Where Phasma wants to go on the first page is the stuff of Lovecraftian nightmares. The disguise that Phasma wears doesn’t show her face, but is more robotic looking than her stormtrooper helmet. It sets her apart from the other characters and makes her an alien influence in the settings. The second and third panels on the fourth page show a terrific, subtle movement by Phasma that’s followed by a dramatic gesture by her. This shows the character’s methodical and direct nature beautifully. The two page conversation that follows is great for the setting and the characters’ reactions. The reveal on 8 is worthy of a full-page splash, with the background creating its epic look. TN’s emotions on 9 were a little frightening, but a good reminder of what this character is a part of. The speech on 11 is great, with Phasma’s cape sweeping about her dramatically and ending with fists raised, recalling General Hux’s speech in The Force Awakens. The point of view for the final panel on 12 shows that Phasma cannot face other with her words — great positioning and understanding of the characters. The action begins on 13, getting gigantic quickly, with the fallout on 15 excellent. The last page is a full-paged splash that has no sounds, sadly, but the number of characters and their design will create an inhuman wail that explodes off the page. Another plus to the visuals was that I didn’t see, nor was I really looking for, illustrations that looked like photos inserted. Checchetto is an excellent artist and doesn’t need to do this. Overall grade: A

The colors: A dark, rainy world doesn’t really allow a colorist a huge palette to work with, but Andres Mossa makes this book look great. The blues on the first page set the page in the constant downpour, but without hurting the artwork. The red that comes out of Phasma’s visor makes her look evil. This is reinforced on Page 4 when she’s shown looking down at child. The colors go warm in tans and browns on 5 and 6, which make the tone of the book become earthy and allows the natives’ green screen to pop off the page. When the characters begin to put their plan in motion, the rain stops, and Mossa gets to create some stunning blues for the backgrounds. There’s a chant that’s repeated late in the book and it stands out strongly with yellows within block letters. The flashback sequences are tinted in browns and tans to age them slickly. The final page introduces some new characters who have some wonderful colors in blue and coral. Overall grade: A

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles creates scene settings, dialogue, an editorial note, sounds, and chants. Cowles continues the settings and dialogue’s style as set forth in previous Star Wars series, keeping continuity going. The sounds and chants are the best part of the issue, with some big sounds accompanying some big visuals. My favorite of the image is the chant: it’s big and disturbing, perfectly matching the tone of what’s been said and done. The final page has me wanting to see what these characters would look like. Overall grade: A-

The final line: This is the best issue yet, with Phasma’s past teased as she’s trying to capture an elusive foe. The title character is at her calculating, cold best, truly representing the First Order. The visuals are also the best so far, with some great character moments and some epic action. This is a Phasma I would follow. 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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