In Review: Star Wars #63

This is a disappointment to Star Wars fans.

The covers: Two covers to find before the Spike is destroyed. The Regular cover by Gerald Parel has an enormous bust shot of traitorous Queen Trios looking down upon Han, Leia, and Luke as they stand upon Shu-Torun, surrounded by its constant flames. I like this cover, with the title going down the left side, which is a great way to give more space to the imagery. The characters are a little dark to make out, but I like this cover. The Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher features a character from Return of the Jedi: Klaatu: Skift Guard Outfit. The figure has a fantastic snarl on his face that shows more teeth than the original figure had. Additionally, this interpretation of the figure is much thinner that the toy, which was too fat. I am disappointed that there’s no gun or other weapon for the figure to hold, but that’s really fanboy nicking. The illustration of this figure’s photo is great, with the scales and colors outstanding. Once again Mr. Christopher is going to have me purchasing two copies of the same book. Overall grades: Both A

The story: Queen Trios and Commander Kanchar are having a tete-a-tete about what they’ve done to keep Shu-Torun surviving. He has done it to keep the Empire supplied, she to keep her people as free of Imperial rule as possible. She verbally pokes him for getting played as a distraction, while he says, “Master of all you survey…Close confidante of Darth Vader himself…All you had to do was betray some dupes! You must be happy with yourself, Trios.” Pouring herself a beverage she replies, “I am Queen of Shu-Torun, Kanchar. I get to be many things…to be ‘happy’ is not among them.” Their conversation then turns to the Spike, the construction that allows the planet to exist. Trios makes a very telling comparison to the Spike. The next five pages turn to the Rebels with Leia stating their plan to take down Trios and who will be responsible for what in their operation. There’s a four page sequence that follows that’s fun, with some fantastic dialogue on Page 13’s third and fourth panel. After this is when the story takes a turn for me because it focuses on one of the operatives that I just do not care for. Whom he’s partnered with doesn’t help the situation. Their dialogue and actions come off as cliché, with the ending not being something I would remember. I’m hoping that my joy with Kieron Gillen’s story will increase when it moves to other characters’ contributions. Overall grade: C

The art: Angel Unzueta returns as artist this issue and his photorealistic visuals are hit and miss with the familiar cast. The opening five are original characters and settings, so they look fine. The second panel on the opening page is a wonderful way to introduce both individuals, small in a large room as the constant hell of the world rages outside. Trios emotes better than Kanchar who is stuck in permanent scowl. The details in her clothing are fantastic. The panel that closes Page 3 is outstanding, with her intense as she places her hand on the window. Page 4 is a full-paged splash that shows the Spike and it’s a monster looming over the mountains. It definitely deserves this much space to be shown as it is targeted by the Rebels. The points at the top of the structure increase its nightmarish form. Page 6 is also a full-paged splash, but shown from the exact opposite angle, with Leia standing outside the Millennium Falcon to look at the thing. The three characters look exactly like their film counterparts on the top of 7, but why is Luke mouth breathing? It’s as if he was to have dialogue and it was left out. The interior of the Falcon is fantastic! If Unzueta were to have characters simply walk around its corridors I would be happy. Leia looks fantastic on the pages where she reveals the plan, resembling her character from The Empire Strikes Back. Luke does not fare so well on Page 9; Skywalker has always been difficult for Unzueta. Benthic looks great on every page he appears and I’m looking forward to seeing what Unzueta does with him. The action sequence on Pages 11 – 13 are very well done, with the older character being nicely designed. I don’t like what’s placed on one character on 14, which would stick out to even the dumbest Imperial. Leia and Han look terrible in the second panel on 17 — what’s up with those lines? Leia fares much better on the pages that follow, with her close-up on 19 outstanding. The attitude that flows from the visual of the speaker in the final panel is outstanding. Stuff to like with these visuals and stuff to question. If Unzueta is going to photo reference so heavily, I’d be more happy if he chose to cut, paste, and manipulate photos as John Byrne did so successfully for Star Trek comics. Overall grade: B-

The colors: The opening four pages have the character colored extremely darkly. Why? The figures are surrounded by several ginormous windows which show the raging and tumultuous lava outside. Shouldn’t the lighting be brighter here? Plus the window panes have blue electricity creating them — another light source. There’s no reason for Guru-eFX to have these characters colored darkly. The details in the artwork are lost because they are so dark. The final panel on 4 is neat for the coloring to establish the forcefield. These colors are partially repeated on the next page, with the Spike looking ominous surrounded by so much orange. The interiors of the Falcon are also too dark. It’s a comic book, reality can be cheated with. Brightening things up would make the visuals easier to see. There are some really cool lighting effects on Pages 11 – 13 and the blaster fire is beautiful. Page 16 has some gorgeous colors with a terrific contrast of orange and blue. The lights again look cool with the final panel on 17. The gold Trios wears stands out handsomely on the final three pages and I love how the final panel has her against a blue and white background that makes her pop. As with the visuals, the coloring results are mixed. Overall grade: B-

The letters: This issue’s scene settings, dialogue, Benthic’s speech, Threepio’s speech, Wookiee roars, and the three word tease for next issue are crafted by VC’s Clayton Cowles. The scene settings are not great due to the white space under each letter creating a blurry effect. The other Star Wars books produced by Marvel employ other fonts and one of those should be used on this title. The dialogue is very thin, making yells sound tiny, such as on 12. Benethic and Threepio’s speech visually adds to their differentiation from other speakers. I don’t understand why Wookiee speech now has wavy letters that have me thinking that they’re being spoken by Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi. I’m really not liking any of the lettering choices on this book. Overall grade: D+

The final line: Odd choices abound in this issue: the plot is clunky, the art hit and miss, the colors too dark at times, and the lettering a mess. This is a disappointment to Star Wars fans. It can only get better from here, right? 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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