In Review: Star Wars #12

An excellent conclusion to a fantastic arc.

The cover: Luke has his lightsaber in front of him to defend himself and his friends, Leia, Han, and Chewie. A fantastic image with Luke large and in charge from artist Stuart Immonen, inker Wade von Grawbadger, and colorist Justin Ponsor. Skywalker is fantastic looking on this and I love that his coloring is brighter than those he’s protecting, so he really stands out. Overall grade: A

The story: Han and Leia have just arrived on Sana Solo’s ship, and I do mean “on”, to watch Dengar beat Chewbacca down. Their guns are trained on the bounty hunter, but he refuses to back down, until someone intervenes in spectacular fashion. Luke and Han have come to the Smuggler’s Moon to rescue Luke and looking to the skies they see a squad of TIE Fighters going in the same direction, so they know where the Tatoonie native is. The young Jedi is battling a cybernetically enhanced monstrosity in an arena as the rich and powerful watch. As the creature lifts him up to take a bite out of him, Luke yells, “Ben! I could really use one of your miracles right about…”, and then something happens. This conclusion feels like a Star Wars story because all the leads are working together toward a common goal, they’re hopelessly outnumbered, and the villains are terrific. This was a coming together that the previous arc seemed to lack. Jason Aaron has really outdone himself with this issue and this storyline. Grakkus the Hutt does not go down easily, with a terrific turn of events on Page 7. Adding to the threats of this issue is the arrival of several Imperial soldiers. Combined with the monster loose in the arena, there’s trouble at every turn in this issue. I loved Artoo’s contribution to the battle on 10, foreshadowing a classic scene from Return of the Jedi. I wasn’t thrilled with what happens on 13; yes, it fit the story, but it came off as an excuse to show those characters with those items. This is my only nit with the story, everything else is gold, including a fantastic final two pages with one character appearing to make a statement, while another is silent and reflective. Awesome is too small a word for what occurs. Overall grade: A   

The art: I’ve been a fan of Stuart Immonen‘s work since he was on Legion of the Super-Heroes and combined with inker Wade von Grawbadger they’re making magic with this book’s visuals. The opening two pages that resolve Dengar’s threat are gorgeous, from Han and Leia’s close-ups, Dengar’s defiance in the third panel, the surprise in the fourth, and the fantastic setting atop Page 2 — this is excellence right out of the gate, and it only gets better. The Gamemaster looks sensational at the top of 5, like Frank Frazetta graced the book. He’s such a visually exciting character I hope he returns at some point. The close-up of Luke at the bottom of the page is outstanding. The sense of motion is also strong with this pair of artists, especially when Grakkus goes into action; no one is doing a better thrown body than Immonen and von Grawbadger. When lightsabers swing it’s powerful stuff (Pages 10, 13, 14, and 17). That last page is really thrilling given the costume that the character is wearing — seeing this individual look like that and wielding a lightsaber is goosebump enducing. And who doesn’t like a shot of stormtroopers tearing off several rounds? Page 16 has got a fantastic panel of that occurring. The final panel of the book is simply stunning. I need this as a banner, poster, and/or tee shirt. This book delivers perfect visuals. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Justin Ponsor also does a super job on this book, contributing perfect colors. This book is set on a dingy, dark world ruled by a Hutt. Bright coloring is not a possibility. However, Ponsor makes this book a colorful outing. He knows exactly when to add colors and when to leave the background empty, such as at the bottom of Page 1. He colors yells and sound effects to make them stand out from the drab setting. His lighting effects are outstanding, such as on 2 and when lightsabers and blaster fire come into play. The red skin of the Gamemaster makes him stand apart from others in a scene, just as Luke’s yellow jacket does for him. The best page in the book by Ponsor would have to be 17: characters’ skin colors are wonderful and that lightsaber is magnificent. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Bringing dialogue, yells, Wookie speech, sounds, and Artoo articulations to life is Chris Eliopoulos. The wispy font used for character dialogue continues to be a bugaboo with this series, as it makes strong characters, such as Grakkus and the individual who appears on the final two pages, seems unbelievably weak. The lack of lightsaber sounds were also saddening: they were absolutely needed on Page 13, as it’s a major moment, and their lack throughout the book makes their use impotent. Their omission is not Eliopoulos’ call, but I wish Marvel would allow sounds to be more prominent in this franchise. Overall grade: B-

The final line: An excellent conclusion to a fantastic arc. Luke Skywalker’s search for Jedi knowledge takes him down a dangerous path that ends spectacularly. Overall grade: A-

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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