In Review: Star Wars: Forces of Destiny–Leia

A neat prequel to The Empire Strikes Back that will please Star Wars fans of all ages.

The covers: Six collectible covers for fans to find for this premiere issue. The A cover is by Elsa Charretier with colors by Sarah Stern. Riding on a tauntaun on Hoth during a mild snowfall, Leia looks over right shoulder at the reader. The two characters are good, but the background is too loose — look at the ion canon. The B cover by Elsa Charretier with colors by Matt Wilson has got a lot going on. First, there’s a image of Leia in her Hoth fatigues looking somewhat down at the reader. She’s got a hand on her hip, while the other holds a comlink. Behind her is a silhouette of her face in profile. Within that silhouette is Echo Base, featuring the ion canon and two Imperial Walkers. The illustration and coloring are perfect! The RI-A cover is a front and back (wraparound) Animation Art cover. Leia and Artoo are shown within Echo Base. The back cover features the title of the cover and an expanded image of the hall the pair are in. This, too, is excellent. With a hand to shield her eyes from the reflection of the sun, Leia looks to the far right, standing atop a small snow covered outgrowth. Behind her Luke is on a tauntaun with Han standing next to the beast. These are my three favorite characters from one of my favorite sequences of any SW film, so this RI-B cover by Annie Wu is great. The Con Exclusive cover is by Charretier with Wilson. This is exactly the same as the B cover, just without any text. If one is heading to a convention this year with IDW in attendance, this is a “must-buy.” The final cover is the Hall of Comics Retailer Exclusive cover by Chrissie Zullo. This is an ultra cute Leia in Hoth fatigues, hands on either side of a doorway, head slighly cocked as she smiles at the reader. This is also a cover to chase down. Overall grades: A B, B A+, RI-A A, RI-B A+, Con Exclusive A+, and Hall of Comics Retailer Exclusive A+

The story: Elsa Charretier & Pierrick Colinet’s story begins with Leia feeling as if she’s not in control of her destiny, pushed back and forth by so many outside forces. She’s riding a tauntaun on Hoth, accompanied by Han Solo and Hera Syndulla, also on similar beasts. The princess is having difficulties controlling her beast and pulls on its reigns to move its attention away from something it’s stopped to smell in the snow. However, doing so causes the beast to bolt and she falls off the creature. Staring up in the sky, she yells at the tauntaun to come back to her. Seeing the beast’s foot by her head, she smiles. “Oh, you came back. Good boy!” She turns her head to see it’s Han on his mount. “Always am,” he says. “Can I get my treat?” Back on her tauntaun, she and Han trade barbs, while Hera tells Leia she should see the beast “as a partner, not to impose your command on it.” Leia reminds the Twi’lek they’re running out of time to find something, which has the story go back to forty-eight hours earlier inside Echo Base as she gives the Rebels in the main hanger a morale raising speech. The story then returns to the present where something goes wrong for Leia. What follows is Leia on her own trying to survive a familiar foe found on the ice planet. The action is good, with Leia’s dialogue strong and funny when appropriate. Page 17 has a cameo by two familiar characters aboard the Excecutor. By the end of the issue, Leia has shown she is in charge of her own destiny and she makes a strong statement about working with others (the lesson begun with the tauntaun completed). This is intended for younger readers, but older fans will find themselves smiling at the dialogue and the cameos of characters that appear in The Empire Strikes Back. A solid read for all Star Wars fans. Overall grade: B+

The art: Not only the co-writer, Elsa Charretier is also the artist of this book and her visuals are tops. I like her design of the characters and the way she lays a page out; for example, Page 2 shows Leia’s fall from the tauntaun, a humorous fourth panel that details her drop, which is followed by three panels that lead up to a funny reveal at the bottom of the page. The point of the view of that final panel on the page is very well done. A lot of exposition has to be given on Page 3, but Charretier lays out the panels perfectly so that the characters are not drowning in the their dialogue. Echo Base is wonderfully populated with several people, and the moments when Leia hesitates and then shows her resolve are very well done. The motion of the characters at the bottom of 5 and the middle of 6 are also very strong. 12 – 14 have the most action of the issue and notice should be given that Charretier has slightly tilted the panels to the right, adding some speed to the way in which a reader will consume the images, as well as read the dialogue and sounds: I really like the fourth and fifth panels on 13. White is used extremely well on 15 and 16 to represent the volume of snow on the pages. The way in which the whites are lessened on 18 is neat. The final page returns to the opening images, ala Forrest Gump, with a wonderfully ominous image in the final panel. Charretier should be illustrating more Star Wars books! Overall grade: A

The colors: Sarah Stern is the issue’s colorist and she makes the art shine, even on this ice cube of a world. Leia’s narration stands out against the icy wastelands in a bright yellow. When the action kicks in, the backgrounds go from frosty blues to harsh oranges and reds. Notice how green is used in the seventh panel on Page 2 to reflect Leia’s happy state. The fifth panel on the following page has a red background not because action is occurring, but to draw attention to the character’s dialogue that is central to this issue’s theme. The interiors of Echo Base are given a cool violet to show the setting is dim, but not wholly dark. Stern’s work at the bottom of Page 10 is dynamite. The colors, and lack of colors, on 15, 16, and 18 makes the images really stand out. The darkest colors of the issue are appropriately on 17 and return for a character in the final panel on the last page. Overall grade: A

The letters: This issue’s text has narration and dialogue (the same font), yells, and scene settings created by Tom B. Long. There are also several sounds in this book, but they look to have created by the artist. The narration and dialogue is easy to read, but each should have been their own unique font; they are different forms of communication to the reader. The scene settings are smartly big and bold, informing the reader where the story is heading next. Overall grade: B+ 

The final line: A neat prequel to The Empire Strikes Back that will please Star Wars fans of all ages. The story has a good message without getting preachy and the visuals are outstanding. I would happily welcome this team back to a galaxy far, far away…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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