In Review: Star Wars #37

Recommend for Star Wars fans and those looking for an entry point into this saga.

The covers: A trio to collect for this issue, with each being extremely tempting. The Regular cover is by the immensely talented Mike Mayhew showing Scar Squadron emerging from a ship. They are ready for action as they exit their vessel quickly, led by Sergeant Kreel, who’s sporting the lightsaber he obtained in their last adventure. Everything about this cover works: the characters are clearly introduced, each trooper is unique, and the coloring is gorgeous. The Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant cover is by Greg Smallwood and features Darth Vader looking upon the empty robes of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The point of view is looking down upon the Sith, his lightsaber is still lit, and the reflective floors of the Death Star makes the Imperial lighting create a sense of vertigo below him. This is the first 40th Anniversary Variant I’ve picked up because it’s that good. I swear I can hear a farm boy yelling, “NO!” each time I look at this. The Action Figure Variant cover, which I also picked up, is by John Tyler Christopher. A Rebel Commander on Hoth is the focus. The figure looks great, with that bushy mustache, and the card that features a close-up of the character is amazing. I am in love with these series of covers by Christopher. Overall grades: All A+

The story: There are two tales in this issues. The first is a twenty page tale titled “Imperial Pride” by Jason Aaron, with the second story titled “The Sand Will Provide” by Aaron and Dash Aaron, which is a ten pager. The first tale returns to the unit of stormtroopers called Scar Squadron. Sergeant Kreel is practicing with the lightsaber he obtained in a previous outing and is not doing very well, being shot by several of the practice droids at once. A voice before him states, “You are too slow. Too cumbersome.” Darth Vader emerges. “Too much a stormtrooper. Try all you might, Sergeant Kreel, you will never be a Sith.” What follows is an incredible conversation between the trooper and the Sith Lord, the likes of which I’ve never encountered in any Star Wars comic. Their conversation quickly turns tense, with Vader asking a disturbing question. Kreel’s response is fantastic and then Aaron cranks up the intensity with the arrival of an even more powerful character. Page 6 features some dialogue that will have every member of the 501st enthralled. I don’t cosplay, but I was riveted to what is said. The story then moves to a different system where the locals have a minor problem that’s solved by some new allies, which then moves the story elsewhere to dramatic doings. To describe what happens would ruin the action, but there’s plenty there to thrill every reader. The arrival of some characters on Page 17 had me screaming. What they see, say, and do is fantastic. Their discover will set this series on a story arc that I can’t wait to get my hands on. This was perfect Star Wars storytelling. The second tale has a narrator discussing the life of a Tusken Raider on Tatooine. It’s not an easy life, as shown, and it makes these sand people incredibly sympathetic. As the story progresses, several familiar characters and locations on the desert world are encountered, with the final page being magnificent. This, too, is a fantastic tale. Overall grades: Both A+

The art: Salvador Larroca is the artist on the first story and it’s fantastic looking. The first page is a full-paged splash of a close-up of trooper Kreel holding his lightsaber in his hand. He is amazing. When he battles the droids on the second page it looks fantastic, even if he’s losing to the probes. Vader’s entrance is excellent, with the final panel on Page 4 terrifying. Kreel’s reaction to the new character on 6 is fantastic. With a change of setting, new characters are introduced on 7, with the larger character being monstrous and the villagers wholly sympathetic. The setting is also very cool looking. An action is skipped between Pages 8 and 9, but its results are fully on display on the latter, with it being both humorous and harsh. If a reader doesn’t think this panel harsh enough, the last panel on this page will definitely be considered as being so. Action more familiar to Star Wars fans begins furiously on 11. A three panel sequence starts on 13 and it’s a moment that will linger with a reader for some time. That full-paged splash on 15 is magnificent. The final panel on 16 has this issue’s lead characters looking ferocious. The ships on 17 started me screaming like a nine-year-old, and when the characters appeared I was practically jumping up and down. I like how Larroca didn’t show these characters clearly, as the action in the setting should overpower their appearances. The first of the characters to be shown clearly is at the top of 19 and it’s an emotional visual. This artwork is the gold standard for Star Wars comics. The second tale is illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino and it’s very photorealistic, but often too murky to make out what’s occurring on the page; for example, Pages 2 – 4. Additionally, there are smaller panels placed within the first panel on 4 to highlight some specific actions, but none were needed as the characters’ posture communicates the action clearly to the reader. The interiors of a familiar location is especially murky. The best pages in this story are 8 and 9, which move the point of view around well and are easy to understand. The penultimate panel of the book is a mess, though. This story would have had a greater impact if the visuals had been clearer. Overall grades: Larroca A+ and Sorrentino C-

The colors: Colors help and hurt each tale. Edgar Delgado is the colorist on the first issue and everything about that story’s visuals are assisted by the colors. The glow of the lightsaber, the laser blasts, the explosions are perfection on the page. Even Vader, who’s clothed in black, is easily seen in every panel. The orange shoulder pad designating Krell as a squad leader makes him stand out in every panel he’s in and provides a nice bit of color in the opening scene. Oranges and yellows are key on the story’s final pages, overwhelming the characters that arrive on the scene, but appropriately so. Lee Loughridge is the colorist on the second story and it’s too darn dark. Brighter colors would have helped the artwork, but instead make it indecipherable at times. Cheating is allowed, this is a comic book, so realism doesn’t have to be catered to. The second and third pages are just blob of violets, and the crucial final panel on 4 is terrible. The penultimate panel of the page is also poor. Again, this could have been a much better tale if it could have been clearly seen. Overall grades: Delgado A+ and Loughridge C-

The letters: A sole letterer, VC’s Clayton Cowles, letters both stories and his work, what he’s allowed to do, is adequate. I’m continuing to be disappointed that Vader has a font for his dialogue that’s the same as others, when his voice should be differed because when he speaks it should make his foes tremble. There are also no sounds in this story, though there are several laser blasts and explosions, large and small. The scene settings are okay, though they create no excitement when they appear. All of these shortcomings were established in this series before Cowles took over, so he is only following the continuity set earlier. The book is easily read, but could have been much more exciting with some changes. Overall grade: B

The final line: This issue is a dollar more than usual, but the increase is worth it. The first story is amazing, and the second, though it has visual flaws, is also excellent. A set of antagonists are set on plaguing the Rebellion and their expected confrontations with the heroes look to be exciting. I appreciate an experimentation in trying some new visuals in a book, but those in the second story just cannot hold a candle to those in the first. That said, I recommend this book to Star Wars fans and to those looking for an entry point into this saga. This looks to be the start of something really good! 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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