In Review: Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation #2

This is a cash grab and not a competent comic. Painful to endure.

The covers: A trio to track down and add to your collection if you can avoid all Imperial entanglements. The Regular cover is by artist extraordinaire Phil Noto and features fan favorites from the film Baze Malbus and Chirrut Imwe. This is a good bust shot of both men, with the Star Destroyer hovering above Jedha City in a circle in the bottom quarter of the illustration. I love Noto’s work and this is another great piece by him. The first variant is by Jon McCoy and it, too, is beautiful. Jyn is front and center, holding the crystal her father gave her. From her nose up, her face is in shadow, as if eclipsed by the logo behind her, which will be very familiar to Star Wars fans. Great cover. The final variant is by Kris Anka and showcases Chirrut and Baze. The former is in a bust shot, three quarters view, looking toward his left. Beside him is almost a full figured illustration of Baze. Both characters have been colored orange, giving them a somewhat sinister appearance. They are against a blue sky, part of which is the Death Star. Decent, but not for me. Overall grades: Regular A, Variant McCoy A-, and Variant Anka B-

The story: This issue, written by Jody Houser, begins oddly by having a flashback to 15 years earlier when young Jyn Erso is rescued from her hiding place on Lah’mu. This occurred much earlier in the film and serves no purpose being inserted at this point in this adaptation. With a turn of the page, readers are brought up to the present as Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook is about to be interrogated by Bor Gullet, a many tentacled creature, who will read his mind so that Saw Gerrera can know if he’s speaking the truth about bringing him information from Galen Erso. When the creature makes contact with him, by having its tentacles hold him down and bore in through his ears, Bodhi screams as his memories come pouring out. Meanwhile, Jyn and Cassian make their way to Jedha City to look for an operative that the captain believes can lead them to Saw. They see that Bodhi’s image is being broadcast on several holoprojectors in the city so that citizens can report any sightings to the Imperials, whose presence is noted by the stromtroopers on the street. When Cassian leaves her for a moment, Jyn is attracted to the calls of Chirrut Imwe who gives her something to think about. What follows is a key action scene from the film, followed with Baze and Chirrut joining them after they are captured by Saw’s operatives. There’s a few nice scenes showing Saw raising Jyn, before the temple that the resistance is in begins to ominously tremble. This issue moves the story forward, though the first page belongs earlier and the child that Jyn saves in the opening fight is absent. I also missed seeing some of the more unique characters that were present in the attack on the tank, who are nowhere to be found. Nits, I know, but the varied characters that are revolting against the Empire show the reader that it’s not just one race in the fight. Overall grade: B-

The art: Emilio Laiso and Oscar Bazaldua are the artists and I wasn’t keen on the visuals. Bor Gullet is barely identifiable, so hidden in the shadows is he/she/it. Page 3 is a full paged splash showing Bodhi’s pain as he’s forced to empty his mind to Bor and he’s drawn in silhouette. There are several times that characters are in silhouette rather than be fully illustrated. It was disappointing whenever this technique occurred. The introduction of Jedha City was okay, but where’s the Star Destroyer? That was a tremendous oppressive image in the film and it’s absent here. The attack on the tank is fine, but all the assailants are robed humans of the exact same size and build. Chirrut’s fight with the stromtroopers is accomplished in one panel, which is decent, though the layout of the battle is difficult to follow. Saw’s full reveal is good, with him looking as he did in the film. However, what happened to Jyn’s face? She’s got really big cheeks on 14, but have returned to their normal state on 16. Much of the one scene on the Death Star is just too dark, both in coloring and the overuse of characters in silhouette. The hologram of Galen that Jyn and Saw see is the most distorted hologram I’ve ever seen in a Star Wars comic. Why was this done to look so distressed? The final page is a dark page, with three characters’ backs to the reader and Jyn’s face swollen up again in the final image. The visuals tell the story, but there’s so much missing, both from the film and what should have been illustrated, that this comes across as a hurried job. Overall grade: D+

The colors: Much of this book is just too dark. Rachelle Rosenberg could have cheated with the conventions of the comic book format and lightened things up to make the art more visible. There are only two reasons to have the pages this dark: to create a dark, oppressive tone or to suppress poor visuals. Three of the panels on the first page are difficult to make out because of the colors. Bor Gullet is lost in the darkness of the page. The third page is extremely blasee with an abundance of blacks, due to the silhouettes, and the tints for the character’s memory. Faded colors are employed often to show distance to objects and characters in the foreground. They don’t work: instead making it seem like things are in a mist. Page 6 illustrates this with the panels featuring the tank looking as though a sandstorm has swept through the square. Nothing is bright, nothing is clear. Incredible frustrating. Overall grade: D+ 

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles creates scene settings, dialogue, screams, sounds, droid speech and hologram dialogue (the same font), alien speech, translations of said alien speech, and the tease for next issue. This is a rush job because some errors can be found. First, look at the dialogue balloon that contains Bodhi’s scream: its tail is a thin line, while the balloon itself is thicker. I can’t think of every seeing this inconsistency before in any book I’ve read in over forty years. Second, the dialogue is not a uniform font: panel five, Page 4. This also happens in the first panel on Page 5. If anything it should be louder, because Jyn hears the man over all the other noises on the street. Blasters continue to be set on mute in this saga. The tank scene is laughably silent for the majority of the action. Granted, this was not Cowles’s decision, but Marvel is throwing this series under the bus, or tank if you will, for making this franchise painfully silent. Even worse, no sounds for the death falling down upon Jedha. Disappointing. Overall grade: D+

The final line: This is a cash grab and not a competent comic. Only for completists. Painful to endure. Overall grade: C- 

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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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