In Review: Star Wars #56

This is an acceptable start, though the visuals have some questionable moments.

The covers: A trio to pick among for the start of a new saga. The Regular cover is by Jamal Campbell and is set within the cockpit of the Volt Corbra, Sana Starros’s ship. The captain is under stress, turning her head to rebuke Han Solo who’s put a hand on her shoulder to yell something. Luke is behind the pair looking in awe at the danger that’s coming at them. And what is that danger? Just below the characters is the exterior of the ship showing it being pursued by a quartet of TIE Fighters. Great action imagery with gloriously bright colors. I like this! The Action Figure Variant cover is by John Tyler Christopher and features, what was at the time, the most deadly Star Wars action figure to own: the Gamorrean Guard. I remember my brother and I hurling this heavy lump of plastic at one another and it would create monstrous sized bruises! Christopher has, once again, created an awesome faux Kenner carded figure. The figure looks great, but where’s the ax he came with? The “photo” of the character from Return of the Jedi is perfection. These variants are definitely ones to track down. The Galactic Icons Variant cover is by Rod Reis and looks good, but I’m starting to question what constitutes an “icon” on these covers. This frontpiece features 21-B, the medical droid first seen in The Empire Strikes Back. This looks good, as do all of Reis’s covers in this series, but I would rather have a cover featuring Sana Starros. The Regular A, Action Figure Variant A+, and Galactic Icons Variant B+

The story: Kieron Gillen opens “The Escape” in a bar on Barnahof in the Outer Rim. Four stormtroopers enter with their blasters drawn. They approach Sana Starros who’s at a table with a Nuxan. One of the soldiers pulls out a holoprojector showing the faces of Leia, Luke, and Han. “Have you seen any of these humans?” The bounty hunter says no, but hiding under the table are the three fugitives, each with a gun held ready. A trooper notices that there are three untouched drinks on the table, causing Sana to respond, “I’m a thirsty woman.” The troopers leave and the heroes rise from their hiding spot with Han spouting some sarcasm. The Nuxan continues his business deal with Leia to help them find the Rebel fleet. The three leave with Sana flying them to their destination, for a price. “I’d rather take your money than the Empire’s.” Naturally things don’t go as planned. Once in the Dene Gois Cluster some familiar foes are encountered, leaving the trio, and their droids, having to make a tough call. This is the start of multipart story and introduces the premise and the setting. Pages 13 – 17 are outstanding and had me really looking forward to where this was going. However, the final two pages do a complete one-eighty, leaving me wondering what the heck is going on. I’m a diehard Star Wars fan and will be back for the next chapter, but I’m feeling lost. Overall grade: B

The art: There’s lots to like about the work by Andrea Broccardo, though there are some odd illustrations at time. The first page is solid introduction to the troopers, Sana, and the Nuxan. The full-paged splash on 2 is from a good angle, looking up and behind the table Sana is at to show the heroic trio hiding down low. But there’s a lot of empty space in the top quarter of the image. Pulling in closer to the characters would have solved that. The characters in the bar look good and the fourth panel on the third page establishes the setting well. I like the smudges of dirt on the heroes, subtly showing that they are dirty because they’re on the run. The second panel on Page 4 has an incredibly awkward looking hand. That pinky will haunt me. I like the heroes wearing hoods, with the imagery foreshadowing Luke becoming a Jedi. Sana’s ship looks exceptional when it appears and I like the panels that have her in the cockpit. The large panel on 7 is brilliant, leaving me wanting to see Broccardo do a series focusing on the characters’ ships. This is reinforced by the final panel on the next page. Page 9 ends with an okay image of Han, but now he’s got the weird hand. I would suggest characters not make this gesture in future issues. 11 and 12 have the heroes bolting down a corridor and it looks great. The introduction of the droids had me cheering. Pages 13 – 17 look outstanding: I love the environment and the creature that finds them is flat out awesome. The characters that are in the large panel on 17 are the best looking armored characters I’ve seen since Mandolorians (and the top panel has Han with the hand — ICK!). The last page features the trio at a table and they don’t look as though they belong there: Luke’s upper body is bigger than his lower half and Leia, who is farther from the reader than Han, is larger than the smuggler. The setting looks too similar to English Victorian castles. I like this art, yet have concerns in several places. Overall grade: C+ 

The colors: Guru-eFX does a solid job on this issue. The bar has the dark colors one would associate with a dive, but things are bright enough to see every element of the art. The holograms are in Star Wars blues, but they aren’t as electric as they normally are done. The greens on the Nuxan accentuate the smelly demeanor that’s discussed. The smudges of dirt on the heroes aren’t overdone, but are noticeable. The exterior scenes in space are stellar. I love the powerful yellow trail blasting out of the Volt Cobra. The first panel on 7 is gorgeous, with everything looking beautiful. The panels that show the interiors of the ship are outlined in a neon blue to make each pop against the wonders of space. The droids are colored perfectly, with them looking metallic, but not glaringly reflective. Pages 13 – 17 are at night in the rain and they look exceptional, with Page 14 reminding me of Universal’s classic The Wolf Man movie. The sounds on these pages are in bright colors, giving them a particularly loud voice. The backlighting that accompanies the new characters are cool. The final page is really bright, but it’s supposed to be. I’m liking this work. Overall grade: A

The letters: The text of this issue is crafted by VC’s Clayton Cowles, featuring scene settings, dialogue, droid speech, Artoo’s sounds, sounds, a yell, and the tease for next issue. I’m not a fan of the dialogue, looking too frail for anyone to utter, nor the scene settings, whose outlines create blurs against any background. The droid speech is smartly separated from biological characters due to its italicizing, and Artoo’s bleeps are joyfully large block letters. The sounds from the creature on 14 remind me of Richard Corben’s work, making the monster a classic horror when it roars. Overall grade: B 

The final line: The premise is established and the characters are put in place. This is an acceptable start, though the visuals have some questionable moments. A decent issue, but nothing to write home about. 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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