In Review: Star Wars #43

A disappointing conclusion that's visually dark.

The covers: A big four covers for fans to find if they’re completists. The Regular cover by David Marquez  and Matthew Wilson is a very stylized rendering of Leia and Queen Trios passing each other with long spears in their hands. Trios looks much more intense about the battle, while cinema’s favorite princess looks more pensive as they pass. I like the pose of both figures and the use of black in the illustration is good. If the background had been brighter the characters would stand out more, because they’re blending in too easily. The Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher is a must-own illustration because it’s a Kenner Action Figure cover featuring an Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot. The figure is fantastic, but the image of the pilot, which is pulled in tight to him, is gorgeous. I’ve got to find a copy of this. Rod Reis is the artist on the Galactic Icons Variant cover and pilot Poe Dameron gets a handsome bust shot. This looks good, but I’m anxious for these characters to feature the original Star Wars heroes. The Mile High Comics Variant is by Rhazzah and it had me scratching my head momentarily, because hadn’t there just been a Star Wars cover just like this? There was and it was the previous issue, which featured General Rieekan and Sana Solo in almost the same poses as the two characters on this frontpiece. General Crix Madine is against a Rebel radar system on the left side of this cover, with a small image of Chewbacca roaring on the right. Very nice and the coloring on Madine really makes this pop. Overall grades: Regular B-, Action Figure Variant A+, Galactic Icons Variant A, and Mile High Comics Variant B

The story: This is the concluding chapter of “The Ashes of Jedha” by Kieron Gillen and it’s a disappointment. Opening as the last issue ended, Trios has a gun on Leia and the droids. She surprisingly asks the princess to punch her. Leia obliges and notices a camera up high. She blasts the eye and says, “Let’s cut to the chase. It was you who leaked the plans for this thing. Why?” Before this can be answered the story moves to Solo and his raiding party, who come upon several dead bodies. “We’re late for the fight…” The story moves again, this time to Luke who’s about to battle General Kanchar, who’s attached a blade rippling with energy to his robotic hand. The hand can do more than deliver a shock, as Luke soon discovers. Taking each character’s plot thread, Leia’s story has the most far ranging effects after this issue. Trios isn’t a new character to the Star Wars Universe, having appeared in other comics, and she gets some considerable strength and importance in this finale. Luke’s battle with Kanchar concludes too quickly, considering the build the villain has had the previous issues. Han’s action scenes are a blip and, like Luke, conclude too quickly. For example, Han has a scene with a character that should have a lot more emotion than it has because it’s completed in three panels. Not helping is the art making the moment set primarily in darkness, so the reader has no idea how to read the characters’ emotions. The Falcon‘s exit is much more dramatic. The coda of the final three pages are nice, with Han getting a fun line, however, it’s not enough to make up for a seemingly rushed ending. Considering the build, the climatic battles held no punch. Overall grade: C+

The art: Salvador Larroca’s visuals are also all over the place in this issue. The first two pages with Leia, Trios, and the droids look fantastic. However, when the story moves to hand on Page 3, what’s happened to Han’s face at the bottom of the page? The characters have gone from crystal clear precision, to a smudgy scoundrel. The smudgy visages continue at the top of Page 4. That’s Kanchar? He looks like a Klingon from Star Trek. It’s also difficult to look at scenes with Luke, with the character’s faced obscured or hidden (often shown from the back or in extreme shadows) fighting a villain in the shadows, and then go to the clarity of the scenes with Leia and Trios. It was like looking at two different artists on the book. Page 12 is the most disappointing of the book because the reader is denied seeing the characters’ faces. Having so much of their faces in shadows leaves the reading of the characters’ lines questionable. The payoff is to see the faces, but instead the reader gets the back of a head and a forehead from a lead character. There are some photo insertions with fire and rocky structures, which stick out awkwardly in this issue. Much better is the Falcon‘s exit which is exciting, showing the ship from several neat angles and one character has an epic leap. Also good are the scenes on NaJedha: the setting is good and the characters sharp. However, Luke and Han’s parts of this issue just do not deliver and they mar the previous visual enjoyment of this story. Overall grade: C+

The colors: The colors by Guru e-FX are the saving grace of much of the visuals. They are very bold. The bright colors of Trio’s armor has her constantly standing out, and her scenes with Leia against the blue and violet walls of a chamber make both really stand out. The crimson background of Jedha in its final stages is a strong color that makes each of its appearances memorable. The neon blue white of the Falcon‘s exhaust looks especially beautiful against the reds. The crystals on NaJedha also look beautiful. The bright colors make this a vivid reading experience. If only the art had allowed itself to be consistently clear to allow Guru e-FX to work their magic. Overall grade: A-

The letters: This issue’s text includes scene settings, dialogue, droid speech, a whisper, a yell, Benthic’s speech, and a roar from Chewbacca. All are created by VC’s Clayton Cowles, who’s is following in the footsteps of what previous Star Wars letterers have done. The scene settings are a boring font that looks more at place in a novel than in a comic, the dialogue is a too-thin font that creates no strength in any character’s speech, and the lack of sounds is dreadful. For the latter, look no further than Page 9’s third panel. If ever there needed to be a punch sound effect, it’s in that panel. The panel is set up for a punch to the right of the characters. Without it there’s no emotional payoff for Luke’s battle with his antagonist. A lack of blaster fire makes the shots fired in the characters’ escape impotent. Overall grade: C+  

The final line: A disappointing conclusion that’s visually dark and with text that’s inappropriate for every panel. This story started out so strongly. Overall grade: C+

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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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