In Review: Star Wars #36

A fun issue with Artoo as a spy aboard a Star Destroyer out to rescue his counterpart See-Threepio.

The covers: A trio to track down on this droid-centric issue. Artoo makes his way past some unconscious stormtroopers on the deck of a Star Destroyer. A neat image by Mike Mayhew, but the coloring is making it difficult to make out the details in the visuals. There’s a lot of white in this cover. Darkening the background would have helped considerably. The Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant cover is by Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, and Laura Martin. This action illustration has Han and Chewbacca giving and taking blaster fire as they’re trying to make their way through some rapidly closing blast doors. This famous scene occurs in Episode IV and the artists have captured it nicely. Both heroes look great, with Han fixed on taking someone down and Chewie angry at his situation. The coloring is also snazzy, with the blaster shots really bright.¬†Princess Leia Organa is in her Hoth Outfit on the Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher. This is the cover I had to purchase. The figure on the Kenner card looks just as the actual toy was designed, but it’s the bust shot of Carrie Fisher in her iconic roll that’s stellar. She looks amazing. Christopher continues to makes these must own variant covers. Overall grades: Regular C, Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant A-, and Action Figure Variant A+

The story: An X-wing drifts powerlessly toward a Star Destroyer. The vessel detects the derelict’s presence and brings the ship aboard. A containment team of stormtroopers discovers that the ship has no pilot, though the astromech droid is remains intact. As they begin to take the little droid out, an appendage opens on the front of the droid that lets loose a barrage of electrical blasts. Artoo-Deeto is on a mission to rescue his counterpart, See-Threepio, who’s been captured and is about to be dissembled for information on the Rebellion. Jason Aaron has a lot of fun showing how tenacious the droid is as it makes its way through the battleship, taking down any who stop it from completing its mission. There are several particularly brutal fates for many of the troopers, showing that Artoo is a force unto himself. When Threepio is shown it’s particularly frightening as a helmeted soldier discusses what he’s going to do to the golden droid. The droids escape from the ship, that’s no spoiler, really, and 13 has some outstanding banter between the pair that ends hilariously. The two pages that follow contain a surprising appearance that made the futility of the Imperial troops absolutely deadly. I was shocked at what occurs, yet knew this foreshadowed this character’s punishments in future films. Pages 18 and 19 have the welcome arrival of another pair of characters that had me cheering. Those cheers were squashed by the final page’s reveal, teasing what the next issue will focus upon. “Revenge of the Astromech” is a fun story. Overall grade: A

The art: With the exception of the Imperial officers trying to track down the deadly droid, the characters in this issue are helmeted or are droids. This allows Salvador Larroca to really shine, because no one does a better droid or stormtrooper than he does on Marvel’s current Star Wars titles. The opening page is broken into three full bleed vertical panels that show the Star Destroyer and the drifting X-Wing. It’s a neat way to show the smaller craft tumbling toward the larger. The bolt of energy that Artoo emits at the bottom of Page 2 isn’t considerable, but its effects on the stormtroopers when shown on 3 is hilarious. The angle chosen for the Imperial officer on that same page is great, as the character is looking down upon the reader, much as he would do with anyone he felt was beneath him. Each time this officer and his subordinates appear they look incredibly photorealistic, though just as last issue, when they appear with other characters, such as Artoo, the other characters don’t look as good. I don’t know what Larroca is doing to achieve this amazing technique, but it’s inadvertently having a negative effect on other characters. The top of 4 has the stormtroopers looking a little squat as they race past Artoo, but this is the only panel in the book where this occurs. Stormtroopers are shown from every possible angle in this issue, as they meet different fates that the astromech droid submits them to. There’s a surprise appearance by a familiar looking droid in the bottom panel of Page 7 that will delight fans of the most recent Star Wars film. Threepio’s introduction is almost a full-page splash and he’s very vulnerable looking in his positioning. The cameo by the character on 14 and 15 is outstanding, with this individual only shown from the back, but will be recognizable by any reader. The final page reintroduces some characters who recently were in this series and they look fantastic. I’m enjoying the majority of Larroca’s visuals on this book, but I wish his nonhuman characters looked as realistic as the humans. Overall grade: B+

The colors: Edgar Delgado does a super job with the colors on this book, starting with a neat rosy halo around the planet that the Star Destroyer is passing. The flesh on the Imperial officers looks terrific, adding to their realistic appearances. A Star Destroyer has fairly dark interior colors, and Delgado stays faithful to that established color scheme, though he brightens panels with sounds, especially those emitted by Artoo, and Threepio’s yellow covering. There’s blaster fire on a few pages and it’s very bright, as one would want from laser blasts. I’m liking all that Delgado does. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue, Artoo’s speech, a sound, informational narration, screams, droid speech, and a transmission are created by VC’s Clayton Cowles. Artoo’s speech is the high point of the book, looking bulbous and bright, making each squeal of the famous droid resonate. The informational narration is done in a unique font, making it stand out as the feisty astromech does something surprising. For all the blaster fire and creative deaths inflicted on stormtroopers, it’s disappointing to see that there’s only one sound in the entire issue and it occurs when Artoo lets loose with an electrical blast. This is the smallest sound in the entire book, and seems monstrous when the remainder of noises in the book are mute. Mr. Cowles, I wish you had been loosed to create more sounds. Overall grade: B

The final line: A fun issue with Artoo as a spy aboard a Star Destroyer out to rescue his counterpart See-Threepio. The droid shows he’s got grit with several stormtroopers having horrible deaths, but he is on a mission. The visuals are fine, but come off uneven when humans are in the same panel as helmeted figures or droids. Still, this is a good read for anyone who loves droids or Artoo-Detoo. 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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