In Review: Star Wars #38

An intriguing first chapter, with several highs and lows from the contributors.

The covers: The Regular cover by David Marquez & Matthew Wilson has Luke in a white robe whipping about him. His lightsaber appears just as white as his robe. The background is extremely red because he’s on what’s left of Jedha after the events of Rogue One. In the background several TIE fighters are emerging from a Star Destroyer that’s barely visible under the title. That’s one major ding against this cover: the ships are difficult to see. The other is Luke is too small, he should be closer to the reader, and he looks extremely elongated. I’m not liking this cover. Not much better is the Michael Walsh Variant cover which has Luke riding one of the creatures of this world. Even with the sun behind him, Luke is easily made out, while the mount is primarily shaded — this doesn’t make sense. I do like the coloring, but the character work isn’t working. A change for the better is found in the incredible cover on the Pepe Larraz Variant. Why hasn’t Larraz returned to the Star Wars franchise after doing such a stellar job on Kanan? This frontpiece features Luke in the foreground, wearing his jacket from the end of Episode IV, and he proudly holds his lit lightsaber forward as if urging those behind him to charge. In the background is Leia, Han, Chewbacca, and the droids. Above him is the Millennium Falcon, receiving some heavy fire, with two X-wings speeding behind it. Wow! Fantastic! Also stellar is the Terry and Rachel Dodson Variant, which I used to accompany this review. A full shot of Luke has the hero wearing a tan shawl whipping about in the wind, his X-wing parked behind him. Behind him is a beautiful bust of Leia. I need this as a print or poster! The Star Wars 40th Anniversary covers are almost done and this installment comes courtesy of Kris Anka. Luke and Biggs Darklighter joyously greet each other just before they take flight to destroy the Death Star. Above the heroes are two X-wings zipping toward their destiny. I love this moment in the film and Anka did a great job on this. The final cover is the Action Figure Variant by John Tyler Christopher. I’m continually in love with these variants and this is another must-own for me: AT-AT Driver. The figure looks great on the Kenner card and the artwork to show the character in action is stunning. Yeah, I really need this. Overall grades: Regular C+, Walsh Variant C-, Larraz Variant A+, Dodson Variant A+, Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant A, and Action Figure Variant A+

The story: Chulco Gi and Ubin Des are pinned down behind a snowspeeder by stormtroopers. Ubin is pessimistic about their chances until Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa arrive on giant galloping creatures. Leia says she’s with the Rebels and they’re “looking for the partisans who worked with Saw Gerrera.” Just as it seems they’ll escape, a monstrous ship appears out of the dust and fires upon the trio. Fortunately their ride out is on the Millennium Falcon, piloted by Han Solo, who’s missing his trusty co-pilot. Writer Kieron Gillen is touching on a major story point left open after Rogue One: Where are the kyber crystals coming from now? The conversation between Chulco and Luke was very interesting, with the former mentioning an order that had me beaming. Leia and Ubin’s conversation is much more related to the bigger picture of rebellion against the Empire. The two characters introduced on the Star Destroyer left me a little cold. The male character seemed like one of the rejected characters from an early draft of Raiders of the Lost Ark, while the female character was cliché. The pair only get five pages, so there’s not much time spent on developing them, but Gillen has done a good job with new characters in previous issues, so I’m willing to believe that this pair will become more than they are in this issue. The last two pages of the book telegraphed whom the characters were going to meet before he (?) is seen. I found this minor character from the film visually interesting and am looking forward to seeing what Gillen does with this individual. Overall grade: B+

The art: The first page of this issue introduces the partisans under fire. I liked that artist Salvador Larroca doesn’t show either character clearly, as they’re enduring blaster shots and are in the middle of a substantial dust storm. The inclusion of snowtroopers as the antagonists threw me for a visual loop, since there’s no snow to be found, though after a moment I realized these suits would protect them from the debris blowing about. Luke’s arrival is a fantastic full-paged splash with him on his mount rearing up over the snowspeeder. It made me think of Lawrence of Arabia. Han’s introduction is with perfect scoundrel poise. The escape from Jedha has a lot of great movement, with the mounts, the blaster fire, and the blasting off terrific. The surface of NaJedha was very unexpected; it looks okay, but it’s very old school science fiction with me wondering why the characters weren’t going “Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!” with each step. Better is Page 9 that’s a three vertical panel visual that features a fantastic object in the sky. The smile that ends 10 is wonderful. The two pages that focus on Leia and Ubin have a lot of tension, due to shifting between the characters and the great gestures each makes. Page 13 introduces two new villains. I’m not liking the design of the male’s limb: it’s too simplistic, showing that the Rebels at the end of The Empire Strikes Back have better technology than the Empire and I can’t buy that. The female character is wearing an outfit that seems very out of place for the setting: I can’t justify a dignitary wearing something so elaborate on that ship. The action that occurs is done extremely well, however, so Larroca’s visuals could win me over with my issues involving these characters’ design. The reveal on the final page is good, but why is the character speaking two feet above the protagonists’ heads. I like the visuals, though there are a few speed bumps. Overall grade: B+

The colors: Guru e-FX do a solid job on this issue, starting with a strong use of browns and tans to show the wind storm. The troopers’ blasts look sensational against these colors. Luke’s lightsaber, Leia’s eyes, and the Falcon’s exhaust is a beautiful, heroic blue on these pages, too. NaJedha has a dramatic change of colors compared to that Jedha, which was neat to see. The object that Luke and Chulco look at on 9 is colored perfectly. The colors on 11 and 12 are a little too dark, making it difficult to see the art, but it does make the meeting much more tense. The skin for the characters on the Star Destroyer look incredibly realistic, with the woman’s clothing very bright in gold and blue. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, yells, a Wookie’s roar, droid speech, Artoo’s two outbursts, one sound, and a character’s untranslated speech is created by VC’s Clayton Cowles. This element has all the expected looks of previous Star Wars comics, with the attributes that I’m not fond of and blaster fire being silent, while a neck snap has a sound. Overall grade: B

The final line: An intriguing first chapter, with several highs and lows from the contributors. Another installment will change how I feel about this issue, but on it’s own it’s acceptable Star Wars fare. Overall grade: B+

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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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