In Review: Star Wars #71

Alien worlds! Action! Intrigue! Romance! Thrills! This Star Wars has it all!

The covers: A threesome to find before the Empire shuts down access to this series in four issues. The Regular cover by Phil Noto is a fantastic image of Luke standing with his lightsaber held ready to take down the four Imperial droids that surround him. The mechanical men have blasters at the ends of their arms. The young Jedi looks solemn as he readies himself for the fight, but in the background his recent companion Warba looks bored as she lays on a rock, wishing him to hurry up. The Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher has the artist creating a faux carded Kenner figure of an Imperial Gunner. This character is incredibly black, with elements of the figure hard to make out. Sadly the same can also be said of the portrait to the figure’s left. I’m such a fan of these variants, this is still the cover I picked up. That said, if I saw a copy of The Greatest Moments Variant cover by Terry & Rachel Dodson I would also pick it up. This features the scene from Return of the Jedi when Boba Fett flies at Luke above the Sarlacc Pit. Luke has swung his lightsaber, slicing off the barrel of Fett’s gun before the bounty hunter can land on the skiff. Great moment and excellent artwork. Heck, all of these covers are worth tracking down. Overall grades: All A 

The story: Greg Pak keeps all three of this simultaneous plots running smoothly in this issue. See-Threepio has been taken underground by the rock people of K43. Chewbacca is still on the surface, trying to evade fire from a pair of TIE Fighters. Ol’ Goldenrod is taken before the Elders of Kakra who recognize him as a being made of ore, a cousin to their rock. One of the elders asks why he serves the flesh and touches the droid’s forehead. Threepio is reminded of three key moments in his life from A New Hope. Before the droid can say too much, someone with heavy breathing arrives on the scene. On Lanz Carpo, Dar Champion holds Han and Leia at gunpoint. There’s a skrimish, a change of mind, and a great comment that’s in the penultimate panel on Page 11. 13 has Han and Leia in a unique situation that made me smile and foreshadows feelings that will come to light in The Empire Strikes Back. As this is occurring, Luke and Warba are going to attempt to rob the local Imperial Payroll Garrison to get money to bribe the secretary of the local sub-governor. Since Luke is a Jedi, he’s going to have to do the heavy work. But is robbing the garrison the real reason to have him enter it? The manta he chants as he goes about this work made me smile like an nine-year-old from 1977. Each story has action, surprises, and beautiful character moments. This is Star Wars storytelling that is so smooth it’s like glass. Incredible. Overall grade: A+

The art: The first page by Phil Noto, who handles both the art and the colors, has Threepio being dragged, though he’s still on his feet, backwards to see the Elders. His head knocks against one of the stalactites, visually showing he was indeed made to suffer. His situation is countered by the more immediate peril of Chewie racing away from the TIEs. Seeing the Wookiee run from these killers is great. The reveal of the Elders is neat, with magma streaming all about them a neat touch. The four panels on Page 4 are fantastic flashbacks, albeit from a different point of view than that of Episode IV. I also love the two panels on 5, with the latter really capturing the epic scale of that film. The entrance on Page 7 is awesome and is only missing a famous musical cue. I like that Han and Leia’s story starts with Dar holding his gun. There’s no background behind the character, making him look incredibly important and the weapon he’s holding obvious. Leia and Han are in a panel that follows this and they are very small, making them look weak. Leia’s close-up on the page is wonderful. The action on Pages 9 – 11 is outstanding; it’s exactly what the reader wants to see the character do. I love the reds used on 11 and 12, increasing the tension of the moment. The final image on 13 is a great way to show this pair together, yet they are still uncomfortable with the situation. Given what fans know of this pair, this visual is delicious. Luke and Warba’s conversation looks great, and the way in which Warba spies their target is neat. The action on 16 is what I wish the films could have given fans. I really like that there are no characters on 17 and the reader has to imagine what’s occurring. The last illustration on the page is a good throwback to visuals on 14. Page 19 is a full-paged splash of my favorite Star Wars character so I was beside myself with joy seeing this character like this with that expression on his face. I got all goose pimply. It’s beautiful. The last page has one character showing two different faces, and the reader realizing something one character hasn’t yet learned. Again, so delicious. Noto is an illustration god. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles is responsible for the issue’s scenes settings, sounds, droid speech, Wookiee roars, Kakraian dialogue, dialogue, and whispered dialogue. The scene settings look good in this issue because they’re on backgrounds that don’t have them becoming blurry, as they’ve become in previous issues. Colors are key to this style of text. The sounds in this issue are great, with several on Lanz Carpo and Sergia. The droid speech is in italics, giving it a metallic flavor. The Wookiee roars are in large warbling letters to match Chewie’s speech. The elder of Kakra that speaks is given a blocky font to match his body. I’m still not thrilled with the dialogue font, which still makes all characters sound weak; it really looks poor when used for the first speaker on 7. That font is made smaller for the whispered dialogue in one panel, which suits it perfectly. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Alien worlds! Action! Intrigue! Romance! Thrills! This Star Wars has it all! I am loving this run of this soon-to-end series (SOB!), but what a perfect way to wrap up this run. The story captures the tone of the original trilogy perfectly and the visuals have all the whimsy, wonder, and heart of the films. It doesn’t get better than this. Highest possible recommendation. 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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