In Review: Star Wars: Age of Resistance Special #1

Three different stories gave me very different reactions.

The covers: There are three credited frontpieces for this issue, though I found five online. I would really like Marvel to state all of their cover possibilities within their books and name each Variant category. The Regular cover by Phil Noto is a beautiful piece that features the three characters of this issue. A large bust of Amilyn Holdo looking at the reader dominates this cover. To her right is Maz Katana and down in the lower left is BB-8. Behind them is a window framed in muted orange showing space. A small gray world is in the upper right and just below this is a large circular computer screen. This is great, but let’s be honest, everything by Noto looks outstanding. The Puzzle Piece cover by Mike McKone & Guru-eFX also features all three characters, but their entire bodies are shown. Holdo is on the far right, with her arms crossed and head turned to the left. Her dress is blowing slightly to the right. On the left is Maz flying with her jetpack as seen in The Last Jedi. She looks good. Beneath her is BB-8 looking upwards at Katana. The background is primarily red with several TIE Fighters zooming to the bottom left and several X-wings zooming from the center to the right. A small patch of blue space is on the far right, helping collectors fit this piece in with the others. I really like these covers. There are, possibly, three Variant covers by Patch Zircher & Chris O’Halloran. The first features the Resistance characters from the film and the other features those from the First Order. Against the blue background of space filled with several planets, Poe Dameron is at the bottom center holding his X-wing helmet. Over his left shoulder is Rose Tico holding a pistol, and over his right is Finn holding a rifle ready. At the top is Rey with her lightsaber out and held closely. The First Order cover has helmeted Kylo Ren in the lower center wielding his lightsaber with both hands. Over his left shoulder is hatted General Hux with a pistol up, while over his right is Captain Phasma holding her rifle up with both hands. Dominating the top, and the entire piece, is Snoke seething at the reader. Snoke looks nothing like his film counterpart. The background is composed of a space and planets, but the void is given a harsh red There is also a Greatest Moments Variant that features Luke looking upset he has to carry Yoda on his back on Dagobah. The Jedi in training turns to his right to look at the reader as the Jedi Master on his back smiles. Various plants frame the image with Luke’s X-wing in the swamp. This look rushed compared to the other two pieces. Overall grades: Regular A+, Puzzle Piece Variant A, and Resistance Variant A-, First Order Variant B, and Greatest Moments Variant C-. 

The stories: The first story is “Maz’s Scoundrels” by Tom Taylor. This ten pager has Maz hiring Han Solo and Chewbacca get her to the Steeple, a (wannabe) castle of Baron Smareeva who stole something from her that she wants back. The dialogue between the three characters is fun, especially when she’s complimenting Chewbacca, with him loving everything said about him. The confrontation between her and the villain is full of fun lines and the way in which she gains her lost item is good. The reveal at the end of what the item is foreshadows future trouble in a untold tale. This was very fun. I’m indifferent to Maz, who was great in The Force Awakens, but pointless in Episode VIII. If Taylor can get me to care about this character, I’m impressed. “The Bridge” by G. Willow Wilson is the second ten paged tale which focuses on Amilyn Holdo and how she attained military rank in the Alliance. The Candor comes under attack by the First Order and its captain killed. Being the next highest ranking person aboard, she assumes command and has the ship execute a maneuver that is questioned by several. I really dislike Holdo in the film and this didn’t help. I don’t like her leadership style. This story justifies her actions as shown in the film, but I just don’t care for her. Much more to my liking is “Robot Resistance” by Chris Eliopoulos. Poe Dameron has landed on Jhosh and sends BB-8 into a First Order data center to download troop movements and get out. Should be simple, right? Not when BB-8 witnesses something that he can’t help but intervene in, making his mission and survival more complex. This story has shades of a theme from Solo and it’s wonderful. I know Eliopoulos is illustrating books for Brad Meltzer, but I’m more than willing to pay extra if he writes more Star Wars stories. Overall grades: “Maz’s Scoundrels” A, “The Bridge” D+, and “Robot Resistance” A+

The art: The first story is illustrated by Matteo Buffagni. The familiar characters and vehicle resemble those from the films, which should be the goal of artists working on a franchise book based on a film. I’m not thrilled with the design of the vehicle that completes the characters’ journey to the Steeple, resembling something more suitable for G.I. Joe. The Steeple and its exterior surroundings look very simple. The interiors are better. The first panel on 8 starts fine, but why does the character’s foot look like that? All I can think of is the Buffangni can’t draw feet, as they only appear in only two panels in the entire story. The large panel on 9 is based on a scene from the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Cute, but it had me leaving the Star Wars story to think about Guardians. The reveal at the end is neat. A mixed bag of visuals. “The Bridge” is illustrated by Elsa Charretier. She has illustrated several stories for IDW Publishing’s Star Wars Adventures, which are Star Wars stories for younger readers. This tale starts with a very whimsical element reminiscent of Little Shop of Horrors, but this doesn’t last long due to the dramatic story. I like the look of the characters, with the non-humans looking very cool. One element of her artwork that identifies Charretier is letting the colors define the shape of objects instead of using a line to enclose or define it. For example, Holdo’s hair in the third panel on the second page and her leg in the third panel on the fourth page. It does take me out of the story as I’m looking at the visuals. Ships are key to the story and they’re incomplete looking, with the full-paged splash of the story having the larger vessel look poor. I’m just not a fan of her choices. She’s also providing most, if not all, of the sounds. She should not. I do like the final story’s art by Javier Pina. Poe looks great, the droids are exceptional, the antagonists menacing, and the settings excellent. Poe’s reactions are fun as he’s on a communicator to the little droid during his mission. The point of view at the top of Page 6 is excellent. The four panel sequence on 8 is neat as the shapes of the panels increase the strength of those making the actions. The character shown on the final page looks incredible and makes me feel so happy just seeing this individual. Overall grades: “Maz’s Scoundrels” B-, “The Bridge” D+, and “Robot Resistance” A+

The colors: There are also three different colorists on this issue: Chris O’Halloran, Nick Filardi, and Guru-eFX. O’Halloran is pulling a lot of the visuals by creating tone and depth into everything. Only Maz and the sounds really stand out in the tale, with everything else having very bland colors: it’s primarily browns and tans on faded blues. The last panel is especially dark. Too dark. Muted colors also rule in the second tale colored by Filardi. When the heroes’ ship is hit and reds are used to increase the tension the art really shines. The exterior sequences of the ships battling is blasé. Even the holograms are extra dull looking. The final tale has incredibly beautiful colors. The exterior settings take place at night and are colored a terrific blue to communicate it’s night without destroying the artwork. Sounds and electric sparks, of which there are several, are powerful with this colors. The colors assist the art to create a great visual experience. Overall grades: “Maz’s Scoundrels” C-, “The Bridge” D+, and “Robot Resistance” A+

The letters: Thankfully, VC’s Travis Lanham is the book’s sole letterer. He creates dialogue, scene settings, Wookiee dialogue, sounds, and BB-8’s speech. The dialogue font is slightly different than the one used in the flagship Star Wars book and I like it. The scene settings are fantastic, instantly standing out for the box that contains them and the very easy to read font. Chewbacca’s speech is still in wavy letters, used to give him an extra warble, but it doesn’t need to be. However, what is done in this issue is that all of his dialogue is centered in the dialogue balloons, with only one exceeding the shape, but it does so for a necessary emotional reason. I was glad to see this and it made Chewie sound consistent. There are several sounds in this issue and Lanham does a terrific job on them. I hope that other writers include more sounds in their Star Wars tales because Lanham increases the action of the tale and the visuals with his sound work. BB-8’s sounds look as I hear them in the films. I’m really liking Lanham’s work on this book. Overall grade: A

The final line: Three different stories gave me very different reactions. I enjoyed the final story more than the first and considerably more than the second tale. The visuals are incredibly varied, as are the colors. I would love to see the creators of the final tale get a monthly or limited series involving Star Wars characters. 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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