In Review: Star Wars #42

A necessary transition issue that sets up the finale, but not exciting.

The covers: A trio to track down without the aid of any probot. The Regular cover is by David Marquez & Matthew Wilson. Han Solo raises his arm to urge the Rebel ground forces under his command to continue forward as they endure fire from an unseen source. There are tremendous explosions in the background which almost mask two X-wings that are flying forward. Nice idea but this is very blasé. The colors on every element is dark, save Solo, who doesn’t resemble Harrison Ford. I appreciate that the explosion behind Solo is somewhat bright to make him stand out, but the coloring is really muddy. When I looked up the cover online it was much, much lighter than the physical copy I purchased. Why? The Action Figure Variant cover is by John Tyler Christoper features a bounty hunter who has a fleeting appearance in The Empire Strikes Back: 4-LOM. The action figure looks terrific, a dead ringer for the actual figure produced back in the day. The real treat is the close-up image of the character, who has an awesome amount of detail and what appears to be just a bit of blood on his left upper chest. The image already looks good, but this little touch made it wonderfully ominous. Very, very cool. The Mile High Variant cover features the unexpected appearances of General Carlist Rieekan and Sana Solo, neither of whom is in this issue, but this cover by Rahzzah looks good. The general is the larger character, with a bust shot of him on the left side of the cover with him caught in the green glow of a radar display before him. He looks fantastic. To the right, taking up the bottom half of the image is Sana, carrying a blaster in each hand, with the larger one comfortably held over her left shoulder. This is the most bad ass I’ve seen her look and she’s great. Overall grades: Regular B-, Action Figure Variant A-, and Mile High Variant A-

The story: This penultimate chapter of “The Ashes of Jedha” by Kieron Gillen starts with the Rebels and Partisans’ plans to take out the city sized drill Leviathan. The first plan is presented by Leia and is essentially a guide for the reader to follow what’s supposed to happen. But this being Star Wars, the reader knows these plans will fall apart somehow. The two pages that follow consist of a conversation between Luke and Ubin Des, with the farmboy apologizing about Chulco Gi’s death, which he caused. Ubin tries to tell him it wasn’t his fault, and the intervention of another character confirms this for Luke. There’s some nice discussion of the sacrifices made in the film Rogue One. Page 5 has the scheme go into action, with a neat cameo from a character that’s similar to another found in The Force Awakens, this was very cool. A team of four gets within the behemoth and their dialogue is fun, with a nice moment of closeness to undercut the tension. The bigger problems come to those on the ground, who endure heavy fire and loses, with their morale hit hard. They’ve become incredible fatalistic, willing to continue their fight, but knowing they will die. This sparks one survivor to suggest to another that a change of leadership is needed, allowing the focus of this issue to fall on a character who has to make a decision that will carry this individual through the rest of the franchise. This was neat, but not the most exciting to read. Obviously this moment has to occur with this person; it was never shown in any film, so this is filling in a gap, but it didn’t thrill. Better was the action back on the Leviathan with one character being placed in the worst of positions on the final page’s cliffhanger. As a whole, this installment was necessary, as it moves the plot and a character forward, but not exciting. Overall grade: B-

The art: Continuing to cement his reputation as one of the best Star Wars artists is Salvador Larroca. From the first page things looks amazing. Leia is telling the fighters what their plan will be to take out the Leviathan. It echoes the briefing scene from A New Hope, but has enough differentiation to stand apart: Leia sporting her Endor attire, Chewie in bandages, a smaller room, etc. The characters are photorealistic from every possible angle, including the aliens, such as Chewbacca and Benthic. The holographic display of their target looks great, spinning about as other holograms do in the films. The hallway scene has a lot of shadow work and it works incredibly well with the drama of the script. The character that makes an appearance on 5 was really neat to see: I love this character’s design and hope that others of its kind will appear in other books. The entrance on 6 is done primarily in silhouette and suits the nature of the action. The next page shows the villains in a stunning setting; the design of this location is very sci-fi/fantasy. 8 and 9 has some great action, with the final panel on 9 looking great. Two characters have some neat back and forth on 12 – 14, given that one character can’t really move too much. Larroca makes the scene incredibly engaging, moving between panels with both characters and focusing on just one for some emotional punch. The character’s reactions are perfect. The large panel on 16 is my favorite of the issue, because of who is in it. The villain in the panel dons something that’s shown briefly and looks silly. The next issue could have this look better, but currently it looks dubious. Better is the final page, a full-paged splash of another villain who looks fantastic. Overall grade: A

The colors: The first two pages of this issue have a terrific teal used for the holographic projection of the Leviathan. Guru-eFX has the image cast a similar shine on the walls surrounding the image, but it doesn’t fall upon the characters between the wall and the projection. A slight blue on them would have made this more realistic. The blue and orange on 6 are strong colors within the dark setting. The reds on Page 7 are glorious and repeated extremely well on 10, 15, and 16. Contrasting these crimsons are the blues and whites on 8 and 9. The red blaster bolts stand out marvelously in the characters’ exchange. The orange on the final page gives the predominant character an excellent royal hue. Overall grade: A-

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles creates scene settings, dialogue, Wookiee speak, droid talk, Artoo’s bleeps, and Benthic’s unique speech. My same regrets exist for the scene settings and dialogue, but now I have to add Chewbacca’s speech to my disappointments. The dialogue balloons for the Wookiee aren’t long enough to contain his speech, making the start and/or endings to some of his dialogue, which is black, lost in the background. Extending the balloons would have allowed his speech to be completely seen. I like the droid speech and Benthic’s dialogue, but the rest of the book has lettering that lessens the joy of reading this book. Overall grade: C+

The final line: A necessary transition issue that sets up the finale, but not exciting. There is some action and some character growth and the visuals are top notch, but with not enough to do. On it’s own, this isn’t much. Combined with the previous installments this would improve. 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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