In Review: Star Wars #8

Beautiful artwork with only half a story worth reading.

The cover: New artist, inker, and colorist, Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger (since when don’t inkers rate cover credit?), and Justin Ponsor, have created a terrific cover that features my favorite character: Luke Skywalker. It seems Luke has picked the wrong place to enter with Artoo-Detoo, in, what looks like, a cantina, with several weapons pointing at them. Luke looks surprised at his situation, but notice he’s not frightened — he looks focused. And take a gander at his left hand: it’s down low and open, just within reach of his lightsaber. This looks like the calm before the storm. Immonen, who I admit to being a big fan of since his Legion of Super-Heroes days, has done a sensational job on this young Luke, Von Grawbadger has inked it to perfection, putting heavy lines where the reader’s focus should fall (Luke’s face, his jacket, and gun), and Ponsor has done a bang up job with Luke being the focus because of his jacket, Artoo stealing a bit of thunder with his shiny surface, and the background seemingly smoky. I’d like this as a poster. Overall grade: A+

The story: High above an unnamed planet, a Star Destroyer releases several TIE Fighters and TIE Bombers to “set the skies on fire” to allow their scanners to work so that they may locate two ships they believe to be on the planet’s surface. Down below on the planet, Sana Solo has Han and Leia at gunpoint. The smuggler is shocked to see the woman, endlessly correcting her that she’s not his wife. This revelation of a Mrs. Solo has Leia naturally upset, and she turns to her ship to leave the bickering couple. With Han shouting the princess’s name, Sana realizes that it’s Leia Organa before her, and she has quite the bounty on her head. I really am not thrilled with Jason Aaron introducing a never mentioned spouse — <COUGH>FIREFLY<COUGH> –, as it’s been done before with practically the same character in the same genre. I also felt no tension whatsoever. I know that Han and Leia will be fine for The Empire Strikes Back and Sana will be never mentioned again. Better is Luke’s attempt to find the home of the Jedi. Again, I know he’ll be fine for the film sequel, but this could/should result in character growth, seeing him learning something from what’s to occur, rather than the stunt of a missing spouse to create conflict. What happens to him on Nar Shaddaa was quick, and rightfully so: he’s still just getting out of farm boy mode, so I was fine with what transpired: hello, character growth. I also liked the quick comment from an individual at the bottom of Page 13. I also really liked the response from the individual that Luke was speaking with. This is not a setting for small talk; this is all business. Sadly, the last five pages return to Han, Leia, and Sana. I just didn’t care. And I cannot believe the dialogue of the character in the third panel on Page 2: both his responses seem completely alien to the Star Wars lexicon. I’m fifty-fifty on this issue’s story. Overall grade: C

The art: This issue is a visual treat with Stuart Immonen’s pencils and Wade von Grawbadger’s inks. Their character work is amazing. The main characters look just like their younger selves, with Han and Leia perfect as the bickering couple on the verge of a relationship. The middle panel on Page 5 has a spectacular image of Leia that makes reading her dialogue impossible not to hear in Carrie Fisher’s voice. Han looks the best on 19, with a cocky look during a confession and a realization at the bottom. Luke is my favorite Star Wars character and I’m loving the way he looks in this issue. The close-up at the top of Page 10 is a spectacular likeness of Mark Hamill, and when Luke goes into action — and there’s quite a bit of action — he looks awesome. I especially love the partial double-page splash of 11 and 12 when the Jedi takes a tumble. Everything about him and the individual that threw him is perfect. The first panel on 13 is a game changer for the story, and the characters’ reactions in the second panel communicate this to readers, which is quite a feat considering that these were masked characters in the films. The second close-up of Luke on 14 is gorgeous. The bottom panel of 15 is both scary and funny, since everyone has a common goal. I thought it was really neat to see Luke at the head of this group. Immonen and von Grawbadger also really do an outstanding job with movement in this book. Han, Leia, and Sana have some really nice actions that clearly show they’re not rigid figures. The opening two pages and the last two pages also show they’re also no slouches with ships. I’m not a fan of ship combat in the films, but if the visuals on this book continue to look this good, I’d be more than happy to see more of it if these two artists are involved. Overall grade: A+

The colors: This issue has spectacular colors that capture the vast worlds that comprise the Star Wars Universe. Justin Ponsor has done an exceptional job. Star Destroyers and the many TIE ships are not exactly known for their wide range of exciting colors, but they’re gorgeously lit up against a bright world on the first two pages. The oranges in the second panel create an excellent sense of depth to the action. The oranges are even more lush on the planet’s surface. The interior setting that Luke ventures into perfectly captures the mood of a similar setting in A New Hope. I especially like the back lighting behind Luke at the top of Page 10. When something appears at the bottom of 12 it’s beautiful and fierce. Ponsor nailed this item’s color. Simply put, this is a superior coloring job. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Chris Eliopoulos has created scene settings, transmissions, muttered dialogue, dialogue, yells, and Artoo sounds. Eliopoulos does a good job, but I’m not happy that he wasn’t allowed to have big sounds for the several big actions that occur. Marvel continues to mute the wonderful sounds of Star Wars. Overall grade: B

The final line: Beautiful artwork with only half a story worth reading. I’ll be much happier when Han and Leia are doing something new. Overall grade: B

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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