In Review: Star Wars #68

A new creative team has created an outstanding first issue.

The covers: A trio to get before the Empire finds you! The Regular cover by Phil Noto has Chewie and Threepio in a cave being confronted by rocky creatures who are only shown from the back. There are golden veins seen within the creatures’ arms and heads, making it seem as if they are filled with fiery magma. Fantastic cover by the fantastic Noto who can do no wrong when it comes to Star Wars. Yes, I am biased. Chewie is especially awesome looking. Equally impressive is the Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher. This features the AT-ST Driver from Return of the Jedi played by, I believe, Robert Watts. The Kenner figure looks cool and the large portrait of the character looks phenomenal. I was so happy to be able to score this cover from my local comic book store. The final cover is the Greatest Moments Variant by Kaare Andrews that is a gorgeous close-up of Han and Leia before (or after) they kiss at the carbon freezing pit. The characters look tremendous, with the pain in their faces at what’s about to occur absolutely heartbreaking. In the background two stormtroopers can be seen and sparks literally fly before the couple. This is outstanding. Andrews needs to do more Star Wars work! Overall grades: All A+

The story: The book opens with a familiar sight: probes being launched from a Star Destroyer searching for the Rebels on the run. “Somewhere in the Outer Realm” General Rieekan has three missions for the leads: Luke and Artoo are sent to lure some Imperials from a refueling station in the Inner Rim, Han and Leia are going to Lanz Carpo, a crime ridden world whose leader has helped exposed Rebels over the years, to get access to Boss Carpo’s comm center and initiate calls to a regional Rebel drone, making it appear Boss is working with the Rebellion, while Chewie and Threepio will take the Millennium Falcon to K43 and blow up the tectonic disaster of world after luring several Star Destroyers there. “It’ll be our own little Death Star,” the general says. Leia and Han aren’t pleased working together, but Leia needs to go because the District Advocate on Lanz Carpo is Dar Champion, someone she knew when she was younger. Writer Greg Pak splits the story among the three missions fairly equally and all are highly enjoyable. It’s neat to see Luke working with Artoo on a problem that becomes a little more difficult than he expected. Han and Leia’s dialogue is on point, with him being cocky and charming and she trying to keep them on the down low. Naturally that doesn’t last long. The high point of the issue is Chewie and Threepio. There’s no translation of what the Wookiee is saying, but the protocol droid’s responses make what the furry hero is saying easy to understand. What they get into is fantastic. The bottom of Page 14 had me grinning ear to ear and then gasping at the action that follows. The last page introduces a new character and the reactions from the two familiar faces is priceless. I loved this story. This felt like classic Star Wars. Overall grade: A+ 

The art and colors: Phil Noto is both the artist and the colorist and this book looks fantastic. The opening page resembles the opening to The Empire Strikes Back with the Star Destroyer launching a probe. The Medical Frigate looks like the one from the films on the following page, as do the characters. I was able to recognize Rieekan before he was identified, Noto’s illustrations are so strong. Han’s emotion during the briefing is great, with him getting hot under the collar and in Leia’s face: take a gander at the at fifth panel on the second page — excellent! Notice how Leia is all smiles with Luke on Page 3 and he responds in kind, while Han in the background takes offense. I love Han and Chewie’s moment at the bottom of 4, with that Wookiee grin wonderful. It was neat to see Luke’s stance in the fifth panel on 5 as he’s waiting to hear where Leia is going. The panel that follows this contains a lot of visual humor with the characters’ reactions. When Chewie and Threepio get to K43 the panels become jumbled to show their rattling descent. I love circular panels and there’s a beauty of one that ends the seventh page. There’s a great humorous moment on 9 where there’s no dialogue and it made the text in the panel that follows it hilarious. Seeing what Luke wears on the eleventh page sent me into heaven — just so classy! The look of undercover Han and Leia was fun and very much like they belong in the Matrix, though it perfectly matched the denizens of Lanz Carpo. The final panel on 12 is an incredible match for the text. I could not stop smiling at the fourth panel on 14 — it’s such a joyful image. The action that immediately follows is jolting and serves as a great precursor to the surprise on 16 which is a full-paged splash. The three panels on 17 that show a sequence of actions are also strong. The new character that appears on the final page looks great and the reactions from the two characters that end this issue are perfection. Everything that Noto does is outstanding on this issue. Overall grade: A+

The letters: This issue’s text, created by VC’s Clayton Cowles, consists of narration and Threepio’s dialogue (the same font), sounds, dialogue, scene settings, Artoo dialogue, Chewbacca’s speech, a new species’ speech, and whispered dialogue. The first page’s opening narration would have been better had it been done in the classic opening crawl from the films, but it’s not given the space to do so. Having it the same as droid speech lessens it. There are several sounds that are fun, most occurring on K43. I like Artoo and Chewie’s unique fonts to make their utterances stand apart from the humanoids. The new species in this issue has their own unique font and that’s an additional, and very smart, visual way to differentiate them from others. The whispered speech is a smaller font than the dialogue, but is still very easy to read. I have to continue my grousing about the scene settings which continue to look blurry; using any of the scene setting fonts from the Star Wars limited series would be much superior. Overall grade: A-

The final line: A new creative team has created an outstanding first issue. The story has all the feels of a classic Star Wars story with every character true to their screen personas. The visuals are fantastic, with none looking copied from frozen film images. This is what you give someone to make them a Star Wars comics fan. Absolutely recommended! 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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