In Review: Star Wars #40

This is the type of story you wish would never end. Recommended.

The covers: A big six covers for this third installment of “The Ashes of Jedha.” The Regular cover is by David Marquez and Matthew Wilson. Leia is facing the reader, holding a wooden staff as her cape billows in the wind. Before her are four stormtroopers, the source of her serious face. Nice, but there’s more of the troopers’ backsides than of the heroine. There’s also a textless version of this cover. If you like the Regular, you’d like this. Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer have created a super Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant cover. Luke’s X-wing speeds down the Death Star’s trench as two of his proton torpedoes fly into the reactor’s shaft. The sense of speed on this is sensational, with the line work fantastic. The colors are also great, with roses used for the craft’s engines. I love everything about this and it was the cover I purchased. There’s also an Adi Granov Variant cover. Leia is in her white outfit, similar to her mother’s from Attack of the Clones. She has an X-wing helmet under her right arm, with her left hand on her fighter. She looks great and her cape billows out behind her on his image as well. There’s also a Textless Variant of this cover. Both are worth seeking out. The final cover is a Mile High Comics Variant by Rahzzah. A gigantic bust of Admiral Ackbar looks to the left, with one of those large scanner from the opening of The Empire Strikes Back behind him. In the lower right is a fantastic image of Leia, clothed as she is on the other covers, with her hands on her hips, considering some news. This is also a cover to seek out. Overall grades: Regular B, Textless Regular B, Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant A, Adi Granov Variant A, Textless Adi Granov Variant A, and Mile High Comics Varaint A

The story: The orbital drill has landed on Jedha, but the partisans, led by Benthic are trying to stop it. Getting to the top of the machine, the Tognath stabs the sole guard, much to Luke Skywalker’s horror. The killer snaps at the Jedi, “Enough staring, Skywalker. Can you open it?” Luke ignites his lightsaber and cuts a hole, allowing the pair to jump in. Benthic kills all the crew, save two men. He demands the Imperial officer lower the machine’s shields. The officer is firm in his refusal, but is unable to complete his response as he’s shot. Benthic levels his gun at the remaining man who says he cannot, as he’s only a technician. The partisan tells Luke to signal the others: “It is time.” The ground assault begins, with Chulco and Ubin encountering a difficulty, and an aerial attack commencing with the Millennium Falcon containing Han and Leia. Writer Kieron Gillen makes this battle exciting and turns up the intensity with a great twist on Pages 10 and 11. I was happy to see restraint from one of the villains, as he was beginning to imitate Vader’s handling of officers too often. The middle of the issue has Leia reveal something fantastic from her past, which justifies her drive. The last third of the book takes the story in a new direction, with a terrific surprise. In addition to the location, the character’s motivation for going was great. Gillen continues his winning streak. Overall grade: A

The art: The art by Salvador Larroca is also outstanding, with the assault on the drill being riveting. The first page shows the device as a monstrous creation, with lighting and debris flying about it. Benthic’s attack on the guard on Page 2 is shown primarily in silhouette, but it’s ferocity is still evident, and intensified by Luke’s response. The pair’s entrance into the drill’s interiors is incredibly fluid, culminating with several blaster shots at the bottom of 3. The officer’s smugness in the second panel on 4 is outstanding, while the fear on the technician is equally impressive. The Falcon appears on 6 and it’s beautiful. Han and Leia look sweet, with Han being photorealistic. The looks that Luke shoots Benthic are full of so much emotion, they explode off the page. Pages 10 and 11 introduce a new element into the story and its design is as strong as its size; as a side note, it reminds me of the Tarkin from way back in Marvel’s initial Star Wars run. Page 14 showcases a conversation that is wonderful, with the background disappearing as it progresses, putting the focus on the speakers to make the conversation more intimate and heartfelt. It succeeds wildly. The creature that appears on 17 is fine, though it’s hard not to think of Maud’Dib. The solution to this monster’s menace is fine, though Ian Ziering did it first. The final page is a full-paged splash and is outstanding for what it shows and what it keeps hidden. It creates a great promise that I’m sure Larroca will deliver. Overall grade: A

The colors: With Jedha being a wasteland after the events of Rogue One, dust and debris is everywhere. Guru-eFX use oranges and tans superbly to remind the reader of this devastation. These colors allow other hues to pop off the page, starting with the white lightning around the drill, its blue lights, and Luke’s eyes and his lightsaber. A faded blue is used to translate Benthic’s dialogue, pulling the reader to the translation boxes whenever the character speaks. The Falcon is flawlessly colored in this book, being beautiful in its mottled whites against the orange skies. Every characters’ flesh tones are outstanding, making the characters look like still images from the films. The final location of the book has a red coloring making the locale ominous. The colors increase the art’s tension considerably. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles creates scene settings, dialogue, Benthic’s unique speech, yells, and sounds. I really like Benthic’s speech and the sounds, though Luke’s saber needed a sound when it was ignited on Page 2. The yells are good, though they don’t need to be in prickly dialogue balloons to show their stress — their size and thickness make it evident that they are different from the dialogue. The dialogue and scene settings continue to be less than stellar. A mixed bag for this issue’s text. Overall grade: B

The final line: Another strong issue as a battle occurs, a dangerous element is introduced, and one character leaves the group to discover something. Excellent story and art make this a book to seek out. This is the type of story you wish would never end. 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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