In Review: Captain Phasma #4

Phasma is thrust into the upper echelon of Star Wars villains with this ending.

The covers: Four frontpieces to find on this appropriately numbered fourth, and final, issue of this series. The Regular cover is by Paul Renaud and features Phasma with her hands open to grasp the reader. There’s some teal liquid on those hands, teasing that it could be some creature’s blood. Behind her is a an extremely dark red background. That’s a big problem with this cover, the coloring — it’s too dark. I purchased a physical copy and it’s not as light as the image accompanying this review. The Movie Variant Cover is much better, with Phasma facing the reader, her slightly tilted, and her gun pointed forward. She’s flanked by two First Order troopers. This looks great and I would purchase this if it were a poster. The Elsa Charretier Variant has the title character shown from a three quarters view, facing the right. She holds her rifle proudly as First Order troopers march below her. Reminds me of a propaganda poster. This looks great! The final cover is the Rod Reis Variant. This is a bust shot of Phasma in profile, shown from the right. An image of the exploding Starkiller Base is shown in her head, revealing what her focus has been on for the run of this series. Very nice. Overall grades: Regular C+, Movie Variant A, Charretier Variant A-, and Reis Variant A-

The story: This was an exceptional ending to this series. Writer Kelly Thompson starts things off with a bang by having Phasma leap into throng of creatures that guard Sol Rivas. She breaks bones, heads, and bodies in her armored state. TN-3465 joins her, blasting their enemies back. The pilot tells her commanding officer that they’re overwhelmed and they have to pull back, Phasma simply says “No” as she continues to drop the creatures. As it seems the pair will be smothered, the Lupr’or join the battle, allowing Phasma to get to Rivas. What follows is tremendous character growth for Phasma. She is merciless in what she does, both with her words and actions. Pages 8 – 10 place the title character within the ranks of the most vile of Star Wars antagonists. But she’s not close to being done. Pages 12 and 13 has Thompson making Phasma say the most revolting of truths. So awful are they, that even TN-3465 has no response. The three pages that follow is the most brutal sequence in any Marvel Star Wars comic. It’s absolutely terrible, but absolutely fantastic for how readers will now think of this underused screen villain. The last trio of pages has the character speaking with another film villain and it’s equally stellar. Marvel, please get Thompson to write more Star Wars comics soon. Overall grade: A+

The art: This is how you open a book visually! A full-paged splash of Phasma leaping into a pit of aquatic monsters, TN-3465 throwing her rifle at her as she falls. Her cape billows out magnificently as lightning explodes behind her. Wow. With a turn of the page, she’s caught the weapon and lands on her feet to deliver a right cross to a creature. TN is soon on the scene, her pistol shooting at the ever growing mob. Phasma is closest to the reader on Pages 2 and 3 and the devastation she’s dealing is jaw-dropping and jaw breaking. The confrontation between the masses on 5 is another full-paged splash and it’s epic. When Rivas is encountered he looks much different than when last seen in Issue #1. He’s drawn as extremely cocky, making Phasma’s efforts sympathetic. That changes two pages later. The top panel on 9 is in silhouette and it’s fantastic. 12 and 13 is a conversation between the two leads and Marco Checchetto makes it extremely riveting reading, with even the expressionless Phasma chilling. TN’s reactions to what she’s hearing are wonderful. Even without the text, Pages 15 and 16 communicate so much power. I knew what would happen at the top of 16, but to actually come upon it made me gasp. The final image of the book is beautiful and frightening, for what Phasma is looking at and the dark tone that her presence brings, especially with her cape being exceptionally tattered. This is beautifully horrific art. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Andres Mossa’s work really intensifies this book’s visuals. For the opening fight the sky is a torrent of rain and lighting in blues and whites, while the monstrous humanoids fought are dark, disturbing fleshy pinks. Even the sounds that show the creatures being hit are a sick pink. When Rivas is encountered, his hair is shade of yellow that instantly demands the reader’s attention. The lining of Phasma’s cape is a red streak of hate that constantly intrudes into the captain’s panels. When either of the First Order officers fires her weapon it’s a brilliant shade of red that outlines a strong white, showing it to be death unleashed. The top of Page 16 is wonderful in different shades of pink to make the action a shock. Mossa does a great job on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, sounds, dialogue, a whisper, and narration are VC’s Clayton Cowles’s contributions to this concluding chapter. The sounds in the opening fight are great, but when any blaster or pistol is fired it’s regretfully silent. I am happy to see Phasma’s narration differed from the dialogue, as it should be, but the dialogue in this book, and all Star Wars titles, continues to be too svelte to hold any power; for example, Phasma’s dialogue comes across constantly as weak. This style was not created by Cowles. He’s just following the format begun in the first Star Wars comic since Marvel reacquired this license. This element continually is a weak link in this line of comics. Overall grade: B+

The final line: This series was a slow burn that became a supernova with its conclusion. Phasma is thrust into the upper echelon of Star Wars villains with this ending. I can only hope that the character is half as good in The Last Jedi as she is in this series. I was floored by this ending and hope that all involved will return soon to produce more stories of this armored officer. 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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