In Review: Star Wars #41

Luke is surrounded by the Dark Side, while Han and Leia battle a city sized machine.

The covers: Three very different covers on this issue set in a galaxy far, far away…The Regular cover has Luke brandishing his lightsaber in a strong wind. Created by David Marquez & Matthew Wilson, the future Jedi looks into the gale that’s kicking up a fair amount of dirt, but he’s seems unconcerned by the large number of cultists of the Central Isopter that are to his right. The cultists look good, like crimson beetles with those helmets and their robes drawn about them. However, there’s too much blank space at the bottom and there’s some empty space in the top left as well. Pulling in closer to Luke would have helped. The Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher is another super faux Kenner carded figure, this time the bounty hunter Zuckuss. Everything about this is great and I will once again be tracking down one of these frontpieces for my personal collection. That said, there’s a new series of Variant covers that begins with this issue: The Galactic Icon Variants. This bust shot of Rey against a white background created by Rod Reis is a vision. If all the covers in this series look like this, I’ll have to track them down as well! Overall grades: Regular C+, Action Figure Variant A, and Galactic Icon Variant A+

The story: On what’s left of Jedha, Luke is being led by Chulco Gi to explore the Force with the Cult of the Central Isopter. Skywalker is told that this is the ultimate temple of the cult. He’s suddenly hit by a disturbance in the Force, which has him saying, “This…This is the worst place in the galaxy.” He is told by the cultists that this is his first lesson. Suddenly he spots something falling in the distance, but is told by the cultists to ignore it. Meanwhile at the Partisans’ base, Benthic tells Leia and Han that the Imperials have deployed something else, so Han says he’ll go take a look at it. It’s a Continent-class crawler, a strip miner the size of a city, and even Han says destroying it may be harder than it seems. This firmly plants where Kieron Gillen has the issue going: Luke discovering what there is to learn from the cultists and Han, Leia, and the Partisans trying to take out the crawler. The tale is balanced well between both, going back and forth just as tension reaches a fever pitch in one story, he moves to the next, and then back again. What Luke learns, at this early stage in his training was problematic for me. His action on 16 seems out of place, yet, since it is so early in his training, understandable. This lesson seems a little severe, even for Star Wars. Better is what happened on 18 and 19: this is what I want to see Luke doing. The mission to take down the crawler is good, with a similar technique employed before it was made famous in one of the films, though the ending dialogue from Han was too similar to that of a character from The Last Jedi. I felt like I was getting hammered like George McFly, “Do you understand, fanboy? Do you understand what this is all about?” The last page suggests that there’s still hope to stop the Imperials, but it will have to wait for the next installment. This issue was undeniably readable, and I sped through the pages quickly, but it left me mixed. Overall grade: B-

The art: The scenes that focus on Luke with the cultists are epic. Salvador Larroca has done a stunning job to make it look like Luke is standing on the precipice of Hell. The first page contains a large image of the temple and it’s shape is unquestionably alien; it gave the same feeling as first seeing the alien ship in the film Alien. The constant blast of lightning increases the forbidding tone of the environment, and the insect look of the cultists increased it. The reveal on 15’s fourth panel made me gasp, so, Larroca, you did your job well. The image of Luke at the bottom of the page is beautiful: my favorite character looks exactly like Mark Hamill. What follows on 16 is also drawn well, with much of it happening in silhouette; which should appease parents if they don’t want their children to see graphic violence. I would have liked to have seen Luke’s face more on 17, to see the impact of what he’s done on him, but instead the reader sees a profile or a distant image of the farmboy. The cultists look terrific. I would hope they appear in other books, as what lies beneath those masks and robes is as tantalizing as what Boba Fett looks like. The full-paged splash that introduces the gigantic strip miner is impressive. It looks more like a vehicle out of Warhammer 40,000 than Star Wars, but is completely appropriate for what it does. Han’s reaction to seeing it on Page 5 is as visually funny as his dialogue is. The attack that begins on 8 is exciting, with the vehicles exuding a tremendous sense of motion and realism. I was actually a little upset when the scenes with the vehicles cut away to show characters piloting or reacting to them, but I realized that that was a necessity. Considering how much debris is blowing about in these sequences, Larroca makes it easy for the reader to see what’s occurring. Larroca continues to impress on this book. Overall grade: A

The colors: I’ll say it again, considering how much debris is blowing about in every panel, it’s amazing anything can be clearly be seen. That’s a definite skill of the Larroca and colorist Guru-eFX. Luke’s settings are stunning in red: red clad characters, red lighting, red debris, and red mountains. Guru-eFX uses every possible shade of crimson to ensure that the reader isn’t looking a mass of red that overpowers the artwork. They make it work every time. Having Luke as the sole character in a white robe on these pages has him catching the reader’s eye every time he appears. For the attack on the strip miner, browns are used, instantly creating an earthy feel for the pages and making the actions seem even more dirty. Again, every shade of brown is used so that the reader isn’t seeing a blob of color on the page. When explosions or blasts occur they truly pop out against the browns. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings dialogue, yells, Benthic’s unique font, droid beeps, sounds, and Wookiee speech. I’m loving Benthic’s speech, which continues to make him an incredibly alien character just from the look of his dialogue. The yells and few sounds are good, but that wispy dialogue and the oddly constructed scene settings continue to frustrate. Overall grade: B 

The final line: Luke is surrounded by the Dark Side, while Han and Leia battle a city sized machine. The visuals are outstanding, but the story leaves me mixed for what happens with both groups. I couldn’t stop reading this issue once I began, but I wasn’t thrilled with it. 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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