In Review: Star Wars #45

A successful transition issue as the heroes shape their plan and put it in motion.

The covers: Three is the magic number if one wishes to own all the covers to this issue. The Regular cover is by David Marquez & Matthew Wilson. Luke and Wedge are sitting in a pilot’s lounge or bar, with the younger fighter showing how he took out a TIE fighter with his X-wing. There’s a small hologram of the battle between the two men. Luke looks completely absorbed in his tale, as he would be, while Wedge looks either surprised at Luke’s sky or doubtful at what the farmboy accomplished. This is an okay cover, teasing at what’s in this issue, but the background characters are very sketchy, being composed of incredibly thin linework. The Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher is yet another stunning faux Kenner cover. This time the focus is on the major domo for the galaxy’s most famous Hutt, Bib Fortuna. The action figure is, as always, awesome, with it’s mouth open in mock scream to show off its teeth, much as the actual action figure did. The illustration next to the figure is beautiful. Bib is an ugly as sin character, but Christopher’s likeness of him is fantastic. Once again, another variant I have to track down for my own collection. The Mile High Variant cover is by the enormously talented Paul Renaud. This is a gorgeous cover that I’ve included to accompany this review. Luke wearing his gold jacket is front and center, his blue lightsaber held strongly in both hands. He’s surrounded by low mist, which also obscures the feet of all the gun toting stormtroopers that have just surrounded him, as have two scout walkers and a trio of TIE fighters. Before the skyscrapers are two head shots of a concerned Ben Kenobi and malevolent Darth Vader. This is poster, print, and tee shirt worthy. And utter fantastic. It doesn’t have anything to do with this issue, but it’s simply superb. Overall grades: Regular B-, Action Figure Variant A+, and Mile High Comics Variant A+

The story: Mutiny at Mon-Cala continues in this second installment by Kieron Gillen, but one could start here without reading the previous issue and not be lost at all. In at mess hall on Mako-Ta Base Han, Luke, and Chewie come in for a drink. Luke wants a milk, since the “last time I went in for a drink, I ended up fed to some bloodsucking alien queen.” Someone grabs Luke’s shoulder from behind and the Force user sends the individual backwards. It’s Wedge, who Luke is instantly gratified to see. Chewbacca puts a massive arm around the pilot and helps him to the bar so they can all share a drink. Meanwhile at the High Council Chamber, Leia is speaking with Jan Dodonna, who notices she’s unusually somber. They have a quick exchange of words before Admiral Ackbar approaches her. She’s there to speak to the council about what’s occurred during her mission to Mon Cala. She gives her report and then proposes some very rebellious action. Her proposal is debated, which is interesting to hear, given there are many possible flaws with her plan. The story then returns to the mess hall where the four heroes are joined by two other familiar names. I loved these briefs scenes and would love to have an issue just focusing on four fighters retelling stories of past battles. That would make an appropriate filler issue…Marvel…hmmm? However, Leia arrives and the big four are soon off beginning the mission that’s she proposed. There’s one major jaw dropping moment in the issue on Page 18 that is quickly dealt with, but — WOW! — did that stun me. The issue ends with the protagonists continuing on their way with one addition. Nothing major in this issue story-wise, but the characters are very enjoyable. Overall grade: B+

The art: Salvador Larroca illustrates this issue and the story doesn’t lend itself to any action sequences until the last seven pages. This could be troublesome for any artist, with the book becoming nothing more than a series of panels with talking heads. However, Larroca is detailed in his art and is able to move the point of view around well enough to make the opening two-thirds of the book visual interesting, populated with many different characters and solid settings. Case in point, take a look at the mess hall: it looks really great. When Wedge gets pushed to the ground, Larroca keeps his identity a surprise until the bottom of the second page, showing the pilot from the back or side. Luke’s nose is odd looking on Page 3, but it improves after this. The Rebel High Council meeting is also good looking, with the characters looking particularly exceptional. It’s a virtual who’s who of important people, with a scream worthy inclusion of two characters from the television series Rebels present. The final setting of the book has Larroca no longer able to reference characters through stills as this is a new location and the characters there not seen before in other Star Wars books. I like the design of both new characters because the more aliens present the more exotic Star Wars feels. Whom the heroes find was scream worthy and the reaction from one of the leads at seeing this character was wonderful. The final panel of the book is a cool way to wind things up until the next installment. This issue is better than the previous issue because photos weren’t inserted for backgrounds. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Larroca continues this trend. Overall grade: A

The colors: The characters are the draw in the mess hall thanks to the color work by Guru-eFX. The walls and table are in the most bland tan, which is the typical color of Rebel environments between Episodes IV and V. The X-wing pilot outfits are a good splash of color that make them instant focuses. Characters’ flesh has them standing out during the council scenes, and this applies to humans and aliens. The dais that Mon Mothma stands upon is a cool light blue, almost teal, that makes the leader the focus, and the same colors highlight the background behind her and Leia. The final setting of the issue has a gorgeous sky and land that employs colors not often seen in Star Wars comics. The colors of the aliens in this locale are strong greens and they are sensational. The work put in by Guru-eFX in this issue is good. Overall grade: A

The letters: This issue’s text includes scene settings, Wookiee sounds, dialogue, yells, transmissions, and a beep from Artoo crafted by VC’s Clayton Cowles. I like Chewie’s dialogue, the transmissions, and the sole droid sound. This issue has another obvious example of why the font used for dialogue is not good: look at Luke’s outburst at recognizing Wedge. That yell at the top of 3 looks ridiculous. That font is simply too flowery for that strong an emotional response. All the yells look wrong. And the spiky box at the top of the penultimate page has no reason to be that shape. Only so much of the blame for this text, and others, in this issue can be put at Cowles’s feet, as these poor text choices have been going forever. Overall grade: B 

The final line: A successful transition issue as the heroes shape their plan and put it in motion. The story is interesting, though not much action occurs until the end, and the visuals are a vast improvement over last issue. Hoping that the story becomes more exciting next issue. 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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