In Review: Star Wars #52

An absolutely thrilling story as Vader and Han play cat and mouse.

The covers: The Regular cover opens where the last issue ended: Darth Vader has the Millennium Falcon locked as a target for his TIE Fighter. David Marquez and Marte Gracia have gone super close-up on one of Vader’s eyes to show the reflection of his targeting computer’s scan. The Falcon is shown in classic old school computer animation as the classic 1977 film had. The coloring on this is great with reds and yellows dominating, showing how the setting of Mako-Ta is coloring the Sith’s normally ebony armor. Great idea for a cover that’s realized well. The Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher features Lando Calrissian: Skiff Guard Disguise and it’s awesome. This frontpiece looks like a faux Kenner carded action figure. The toy itself look like Billy Dee Williams in the iconic costume, with the helmet at the figure’s feet. The smile on the figure’s face is awesome. The “photo” that’s on the right shows Lando wearing the helmet in a close-up. This is just before Luke literally springs into action in Return of the Jedi. I love everything about this. The Galactic Icons Variant is a bust shot of Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi from the original film. I love everything about this by artist Rod Reis. The character is outstanding and he stands out well against a white background with the symbol of Rogue One behind him in blue. I feel fortunate to have picked up a copy of each cover this month. Overall grades: Regular A, Action Figure Variant A+, and Galactic Icons Variant A+

The story: Han Solo is in trouble. He thought he’d arrived in time to help rescue those on the Rebel base at Mako-Ta from the treachery of Queen Trios. Star Destroyers have arrived, causing chaos and death, and he’s now being pursued by Darth Vader in his TIE Fighter. Chewbacca is manning one of the guns and he wails in fear when he realizes who’s following them. Han gets an idea, “I’m going to bring us in fast. As long as our transponder is singing Rebel, those bay doors will open right up…” Vader, sensing the smuggler’s plans through the Force, shoots missiles at the Falcon, hoping to destroy it before can enter the Rebel ship. Who blinks or blows up first will have readers turning the page quickly to learn what happens. Kieron Gillen has this issue focus on Han’s attempt to get to safety and another character learning how to overcome an obstacle that was plaguing the heroes last issue. The dialogue between Han and Chewie is classic. I like the character the pair decide to employ to save the day, which has this individual getting some incredibly funny moments. Naturally Han has to come up with a way to lose Vader and it’s something only he or a crazy man would attempt. It’s fantastic. The final page has Luke mentioning a character from another film that will have fans screaming in joy at the reference. The ending is the perfect cliffhanger and will leave the readers cheering at what’s about to occur in the next installment. This is pure Star Wars fun. Overall grade: A+

The art: I’m liking the majority of the visuals on this book, however Salvador Larroca is obviously relying on some heavy photo referencing for this issue, especially for the final sequence. The book opens with a full-paged splash that requires the issue to be turned horizontally to clearly see what’s going on: Darth following the Millennium Falcon. One doesn’t have to turn the book, but it sure does show how well Larroca opens this issue. Chewie’s close-ups as he howls in fear look great, the ships look amazing as they speed about and dodge blasts and debris, and Han looks solid as he tries to get out of yet another sticky situation. Page 5 has got an absolutely beautiful image of the Falcon evading fire from Vader and the explosion behind it is fantastic. The inserted panel at the bottom of the page that shows Vader’s reaction is perfection. Everything on Pages 6 – 9 is great because I haven’t seen any of these images before in any films, so Larroca is creating his own imagery for these. There’s an explosion on 10 that’s epic and the repercussions from this moment carry onto 11 and 12. This is one heck of a boom and the ships and people that are shown as it’s occurring look terrific. The character that the story focuses on next becomes hit and miss: sometimes this individual looks great (Page 15) and times he doesn’t (14). The bottom panel on 16 is really similar to a scene from one of the films and that can be said of practically every panel that follows. I’m fine with artists using photographs to make their illustrations look as close as possible to the source material, but if I can identify the scene where this panel is taken from, it’s just too close and I’m taken out of the reading experience. Having been a Star Wars fan since the summer of 1977, I’ve seen the original trilogy many, many times. The panels unquestionably tell the story for this comic well, but I’m taken out of it because I can look at the image and know which movie, and when, it occurs. The final page of the book is a full-paged splash and it is sensational. Overall grade: B

The colors: Guru-eFX do a slick job on this issue with some beautiful coloring. The starry background for all the space scenes is in red due to the proximity of the Rebel base to the sun. This makes the cat and mouse chase between Vader and Han particularly tense. This also allows the emerald blasts from Vader’s TIE to really stand out. The strongest colors of the space scenes are the explosions which are jaw-droppingly powerful in orange and yellow. The orange clothes that several characters wear in the final half of this issue are great and resemble their look from the films as well. The interiors of Vader’s TIE are exactly as dark as they were in A New Hope, but I wanted to see Vader’s face a little more clearly — I do wish these had been a little lighter. The same came be said of the interior of the characters’ ships at the end of the issue. The coloring on Chewie is great, with his worried face marvelous in all its browns. I like these colors. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, droid speech and transmissions, Wookiee roars, sounds, Artoo’s beeps, and yells make up VC’s Clayton Cowles’s work for this issue. I like that the droid speech and transmissions are set apart from normal dialogue, and their being the same font makes sense since both are electronic. I also like Artoo’s noises which come in large blocky font. I continue to take issue with the dialogue font, which looks silly when increased in size for yells. The new font used for Wookiee roars makes the beloved co-pilot seem as though his words are harsher than in previous issues. This is a mixed bag this go around. Overall grade: B 

The final line: An absolutely thrilling story as Vader and Han play cat and mouse, while another hero decides to go on a hunch. The art is fine, though at times is too similar to movie stills. Still, this should please all Star Wars fans who can’t get enough classic Corellian in their lives. 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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