In Review: Star Wars #14

A weak entry in this saga. Hopefully it ends stronger.

The cover: Chewbacca is about to receive the full weight of Krrsantan has he leaps from on high onto the Wookie hero. Both Wookies are big and have bowcasters, but the bounty hunter has spiky armor on, so the world’s favorite walking carpet could be in for quite the smackdown. A good frontpiece by Mark Brooks, though it’s a little difficult to make out the villain clearly because of his coloring against the dark violet background. Chewie’s a little bloby as well. A brighter background would have assisted the characters. Note, the image used to accompany this review is at least fifty percent brighter than the physical copy I purchased. Overall grade: B-

The story: Jason Aaron writes this penultimate chapter of Vader Down, plotted out by him and Kieron Gillen. Leia is face to face with Vader, telling him he and the Emperor will ultimately fail for what they’ve done. Vader’s rebuttal is that her execution is long overdue. They’re surrounded by several stormtroopers, but they are not the Sith’s men. Commander Karbin appears, saying that he arranged for Vader to crash on this planet and be killed. He will capture Skywalker to please Palpatine, and the princess is just a bonus. That’s all Vader needs to hear to ignite his lightsaber, which is followed by Karbin igniting his four sabers. Smartly, Leia recognizes this battle is beyond her and takes off running. Meanwhile, the action shown on the cover is in full swing, as Chewie and Krrsantan are fighting each other, with Han unable to get a clear shot to save his friend. Leave it to the one character who can always be counted on to save the day to take the monster down. Though, I’m very surprised that this character has the item on him that allows him to take out Krrsantan. It seems a little far fetched, but I’ll give a partial pass in this installment: it moves the plot forward. Luke is also soon in trouble and is rescued by an unlikely source as well. The highlight of the issue is the fight between Vader and Karbin. The action and the banter are good, though the ending is never in doubt; though the last page’s cliffhanger does put a big question mark into how the next issue will begin. I’m still not comfortable with Page 6, and Page 8 seems to be teasing another plotline, though readers have gone down this road a bezillion times, even if those stories are now “Legends.” Overall grade: B

The art: Much of this book’s art by Mike Deodato is just too dark. It might have looked better had this book been in black and white than colored. Vader gets no clear image until Page 14; every appearance before this has a glare given to his armor obscuring much of him, or he’s shown from the back. I would think that his first appearance in this issue would justify a clearer appearance. I know it won’t make a wit of difference when this saga is collected in a paperback, but I wanted to see the antagonist. This obscuring of characters occurs at the bottom of Page 1, the top and bottom panels of 2, the first three panels of Page 3, and the bottom two panels of 4. I could go on, but it would be beating a dead horse. Deodato has done much better work than this, and this issue comes off like a rush job. Page 11 suddenly has the setting become night. This is done to emphasize the violent action that’s occurring, by it’s questionable why it couldn’t be done in the daylight? Murky visuals make for an okay book, but a drop in quality that’s been shown in earlier installments. Overall grade: C-

The colors: With all the dark panels, there isn’t much colorist Frank Martin, Jr. could do to assist them. The first two panels of the book are well done, as they are clear shots of ships coming in to land and Leia pointing at the reader. The final two panels are just a musty yellow, making the art seem unclear. Thankfully, Karbin has some strong colors to bring to this book and he ignites every panel in rusty orange when he appears. The lightsaber battle also provides some decent opportunities for Martin, Jr. to insert some colors. Sadly, the Wookies’ utterances are colored a pale yellow that has them blending in with the dark colors. A lot of browns and blacks constitute the remainder of this book, making this Star Wars tale look a smudged blur. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, Wookie speech, and Artoo beeps are Chris Eliopoulos’s work on this issue. The font used for characters is so slender it renders any strength from a character’s speech as impotent. Look on Page 1. The visual look of the font has Vader sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher since it’s the same font as Leia’s. This is a continuing disappointment in this franchise’s comic book adventures. Overall grade: C+

The final line: A weak entry in this saga. Hopefully it ends stronger. I expect better, Marvel. Overall grade: C+

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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