In Review: Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation #4

A change in artists brings a vast improvement in this series, with this being the strongest issue yet.

The cover: There’s only one cover for this issue, which I think is a first for a Star Wars comic. The spectacular Phil Noto has created an amazing frontpiece that features a bust shot of Darth Vader, the Sith Lord’s head slightly titled down. Within his helmet is the bacta tank that he’s first seen in, with two of the Emperor’s Royal Guards on either side of it. Kneeling before the tank is the Sith acolyte that informs Vader of Krennic’s arrival. Outstanding cover. Overall grade: A+

The story: The book opens with alternating panels that show Director Krennic’s interactions with Galen Erso in the past and how he’s trying to leave Eadu after the Rebellion has attacked the Imperial facility. This is nice job by writer Jody Houser to show how Krennic has ultimately ended up betraying Erso, but there’s nothing telling new readers that the Rebellion is responsible for this destruction. On Page 3 the X-wings are shown flying away, but there’s no mention of them or what they’ve done. Looking at this issue on its own, that’s a handicap. The farewell between Galen and Jyn is good, as is the escape from Eadu and the conversation that occurs immediately afterwards. Two pages are devoted to Darth Vader’s scene with Krennic, and it could have gone longer, but Houser has to condense the film into six issues, so this was about as much space as the moment warranted. There’s a scene between Mon Mothma and Jyn that’s really nice and true to both characters. The conference scene quickly and concisely has Jyn’s character turning and then the team is assembled and they leave for Scarif, but not before giving their call signal. After an awkward start, Houser gets the story rolling smoothly. Overall grade: B 

The art: This is the best drawn issue of this miniseries so far and that may be due to Emilio Laiso doing the visuals on his own. He worked on two previous issues, but with another artist. Working solo, the visuals are much better. One of my major complaints of previous issues has been characters in silhouette. The fourth panel on the first page had me wondering if this artistic choice was going to continue, but it reappears only once or twice; this is a huge improvement. Laiso does a good job with his characters; when Bodhi is first shown I knew this book was going to be better looking. When Jyn kneels down to her father he creates a lot of motion with the character, not only in her posture but with her clothes. Plus, the rain around the characters is great. Krennic’s two pages with Vader are nicely done, with the Sith getting a lot of strength in very few panels. Jyn is stunning looking on Pages 13 and 19, with Cassian also beautiful on 7 and 17. I’m sure that several of the illustrations are photo referenced, but Laiso is moving the point of view around so often, but not in a frantic way, that he’s able to capture and maintain a consistent look for every character and set piece. Marvel, I hope Laiso continues to be the artist on this series. Overall grade: B 

The colors: With better artwork comes better opportunities for a colorist to shine and that’s exactly what Rachelle Rosenberg does. Colors are used on the first two pages to visually differentiate the past from the present, with the past getting a sepia tone. After all the explosions in orange on the first two pages, Rosenberg uses violets on the third page to set the time as evening; if she had used blue or black, the artwork would have disappeared. I love the blue that accompanies the arrival of the stolen Imperial shuttle and the glowing ramp lights it has. Reds are used wonderfully on Mustafar for Vader’s castle, with them casting their colors on every item within it. The exteriors of Yavin 4 are given pale colors, which represent how bland Jyn’s world is without her father. Notice that after Jyn has made her life changing decision, the final panel has the exteriors go warm — she has a found a reason for her life. Overall grade: A-

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles provides the book’s scene settings, dialogue, K-2 speech and transmissions (the same font), and sounds. The font that’s been established for dialogue since Star Wars returned to Marvel continues to be weak. This is apparent when Vader speaks with Krennic. The Sith speaks through a mechanical device, yet his speech font is the same as Krennic’s and his dialogue balloon shape is also the same. This neuters Vader considerably. When characters yell, they have no strength with their words because they visually look frail, even if accompanied by an exclamation point. The scene settings are boring, being plain capital letters. Blasters are also continue to be silent in Star Wars comics. This pattern was established long before Cowles did this book, but I sure wish he and other letterers could be unleashed to make the text of Star Wars’ comic book adventures strong. Overall grade: B-

The final line: A change in artists brings a vast improvement in this series, with this being the strongest issue yet. 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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