In Review: Star Wars #39

A smart story that returns to Jedha after the events of Rogue One.

The covers: A bust illustration of Benthic, one of the few survivors from Rogue One, graces the Regular cover by David Marquez & Matthew Wilson. Being one of the most visually interesting and underused characters in the film, it’s neat to have him play a larger role in this issue and be featured so predominantly on the cover. There’s just enough of him shown to make him interesting, but enough remains in the shadows to make him sinister, which is perfect for his character. This is a great tease. The Action Figure Variant cover is by John Tyler Christopher featuring an “Imperial Commander.” The figure is a generic commander, but looking at the large, gorgeous image on the card, fans know that this is General Veers, played by Julian Glover. Christopher has captured him with a deliciously confident look upon his face. This illustration is based on the scene where Veers addresses Vader in his meditation chamber. Overall grades: Regular A and Action Figure Variant A+ 

The story: Brought by Chucloc Gi and Ubin Des to meet with the survivors of Saw Gerrera’s partisans on Jedha, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Leia Organa are hooded and have an audience with Benthic. Han tells them to take off their hoods so they can talk or just hurry up and shoot them. Their hoods removed, Leia tells them that the Rebellion will assist anyone stopping the Empire from mining kyber crystals on Jedha. Benthic retorts, “We will never follow your orders.” Leia quickly adds, “We know. We don’t want you to.” She states that aboard their ship they have supplies, the first of many, so that the partisans can better secure their future. This doesn’t impress Benthic who goes on to state what Saw had them do, but it still resulted in Jedha becoming a dying world. One of the dead leader’s actions causes audible surprise from Luke, prompting the new leader to ask him if he would do the same. Luke stays silent, until Han says something to cause the ragtag group to make a decision. The best Star Wars stories are the smart ones and this tale by Kieron Gillen is extremely smart in having the Rebellion seek out the survivors on Jedha to help them against the Empire. This allows minor characters from the films, such as Benthic, to have a much larger role, plus it allows the established characters to visit a setting that’s new for them but familiar to the fans. After a brief scene aboard a Star Destroyer that reestablishes the villainy of the antagonists, Luke has a major scene in the remnants of Ai-jed that Chucolo and Ubin witness. It shows the young Jedi being more masterful with his abilities against a large group and it’s a WOW scene. The book ends with the Imperials launching something at the planet and one of the heroes delivering a wonderfully ironic and true statement. This was a great story. Overall grade: A

The art: What’s not to like about the work of Salvador Larroca? His name is sure to be canonized with artists such as Simonson, Dorman, Duursema, and Wheatley for his incredible visions of the Star Wars Universe. The book opens with some great back and forth between the rebels and the partisans. This could have resulted in several panels of talking heads, but look at how Larroca gives this dialogue great characterization with his visuals: Page 2, panel one’s slightly tilted head denoting laughter, the supplication of the second speaker in the second panel, with the weapon visible, and the strength of the speaker in the third panel. Without the dialogue (but why would you avoid the text?) a reader is capable of understanding each individual’s personality based on the images. That the sign of an outstanding artist. When a horrendous act is brought up, Larroca has a monstrous close-up of Benthic’s head to emphasize the alienness of the character, which can justify the act for the reader. The villains of the book only get four pages in this installment, but one has a fantastic bust shot on Page 8 that’s gorgeous. Luke’s appearance beginning on 10 has him dressed as he’s not been shown before and he looks awesome, reminding me of Lawrence of Arabia. The conversation that he has with two characters is in very dark quarters, symbolizing the darkness that they discuss. When Luke goes into action my heart sings; all that was missing was John Williams’s score. The movement that Larroca creates is top notch. This book looks beautiful. Overall grade: A

The colors: Guru-eFX returns to color this book and they’ve got the difficult job of keeping things dark, due to ruined Jedha and the interiors of a Star Destroyer, yet keeping the artwork visible to the reader. They do an excellent job in creating the tone, but allowing all the visuals to be seen. Take a look at the opening six pages. Characters in the foreground are colored well enough to stand out against the constantly swirling miasma of destruction that surrounds them. This misty background is done in different shades of violet to create the night, adding to the forbidding tone of conversation. The dark Star Destroyer allows the villains’ skin to stand out on their pages, and some backlights done in Imperial crimson increases their sinister actions. The explosion of light on Page 12 depends on the colors to make the moment dramatic and Guru-eFX succeed. Luke’s blue lightsaber is an eye catcher when it appears near this issue’s conclusion. The coloring sells the hellish image on Page 19, looking as if Dante dreamt it up. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue, Benthic’s unique speech, Artoo’s beeps, scene settings, one sound, and yells are created by VC’s Clayton Cowles. My usual complaints about the dialogue and scene settings remain, as do the lack of sounds (especially when a lightsaber comes into play), but praise must be given to Benthic’s speech. It’s a unique font with each symbol correlating to a letter, so, if one feels the need, one can learn to read Benthic’s speech, much as one can read Aurebesh. Giving this character his own unique font makes him more real for the reader. Overall grade: B

The final line: A smart story that returns to Jedha after the events of Rogue One. The characters and visuals are outstanding, making this a must-read Star Wars adventure. Recommended. 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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