In Review: Star Wars: Rogue One–Cassian & K-2SO

An average comic that tells how the most entertaining character of Rogue One joined the Rebellion.

The cover: Thankfully there’s only a twosome to collect for fans of different frontpieces. With the symbol of the Rebellion behind them in crimson and a squad of X-wings flying out of some clouds, Cassian and K-2SO are back to back. The human has his gun drawn and the droid looks over his shoulder at foes the reader cannot see. Good job on this by Julian Totino Tedesco with the characters and colors great. I really like the shading on this making the film favorites look strong. The Variant cover is by the artist of the Kanan limited series, Pepe Larraz, and this cover tells me that he should be doing more Star Wars work as soon as possible. The title characters are running away from a building that’s still exploding on a frozen world. Cassian and K-2SO are almost in the reader’s face as they look behind them at their pursuers, five TIE fighters with guns blazing and a Star Destroyer. The ships look terrific, the characters great, and the sense of motion captured in this illustration superb. Marvel, get Larraz some more work! Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+ 

The story: The first page of the issue previews an incident that happens later: Cassian rewiring K-2 from the droid’s point of view. When the droid states he doesn’t know his designation, Cassian is happy because what he’s doing to the droid is working. Though, K-2 quickly adds, “However, I am compelled to report that only 29.73 percent of my memory has been erased. Which means I must detain you and, if you resist, terminate your life.” He places his hands around the captain’s neck and begins to throttle him. Narration from the captain moves the story to the past, a few hours earlier, as Cassian is taking Rebel spies Kertas and Rismor to Wecacoe so they can gather some Imperial intel. These two agents say very little, as their species communicates in scents. This was an interesting characteristic from writer Duane Swierczynski that I’ve not encountered in any other Star Wars stories. Cassian’s not expecting there to be a large number of stormtroopers, but his intel was incorrect: there are several outside the building they need to enter. Not to mention there are several KX-series security droids accompanying them. Being a prequel to Rogue One, any reader will realize that this is how K-2 was turned to the Rebellion and that’s exactly what the story tells. The turning was spoiled by the preview on the first page, but there are several good moments. They include Cassian showing his athletic ability, K-2’s honesty after programming, and the closing page’s dialogue. I was surprised with the fates of Kertas and Rismor and I salute Swierczynski for going in a different direction than what typically occurs with new characters. This is a decent prequel. Overall grade: B 

The art: The non-human characters look better than the oxygen breathers of this book. The opening page shows Cassian in close-up and it’s obvious that that’s who the character is, but it’s not a great likeness of actor Diego Luna. The characters in the background, Kertas and Rismor, have a nice visual moment with some silent communication that’s more entertaining than Cassian. When K-2 begins to choke his future master, it’s a good visual bit, though the Rebel spies look to be smiling. The ship that the Rebels fly to Wecacoe looks great. It looks as though it fits into the Star Wars Universe and is heavily detailed. The double-paged splash of 4 and 5 looks fantastic, showing a myriad of characters, droids, and Imperials. This illustration had me thinking that the entire book would be illustrated as lavishly. As the characters make their way through the downtown area to get to their destination, artist Fernando Blanco continues with an extraordinary amount of wonderful details on the citizens and the settings, done from some great points of view, such as the third panel on Page 6. The reveal of the site on 7 is also good, but once inside the building the details disappear. There’s also some questionable issues related to size, as the item the trio is looking for seems too large to be fit inside the building shown on 7. Look at Cassian’s hand in the second panel on 10 compared to the size of his head — What happened? Cassian is very loosely rendered inside this building: Page 8, panel 4; Page 12, panels two and five; and all of 16. K-2 is so dark on his first eight pages, I’m glad his details can be made out on the cover so I know what he looks like. That’s a common complaint of the droid: he’s so dark it’s next to impossible to make out any details in him. The stormtroopers look outstanding, with Blanco creating an excellent page where they confront K-2 after his turning. The final page has a really empty cockpit that needs a lot more tech, or a better design, to have it fit into this franchise. Overall grade: C

The colors: Not helping the artwork are the strange choices in colors. The first page is too dark. Yes, the scene is set in a dark room, but cheating with reality is a comic book staple. And if it is supposed to be dark, why is Cassian’s face violet? It had me initially thinking he was looking into something with a light source. The background of the last panel goes a stark orange with a odd tan shape, making me think an explosion was occurring. Nope. It’s revealed that nothing is going on behind the characters during this scene. The colors are outstanding on 2 – 7, though there are signs of trouble because of the last two panels going a cool blue. With a turn of a page I realized I would have been happier if the colors had stayed blue. It’s very difficult to make out the artwork. Worse still is when panels are entirely colored orange during an alarm. It’s like Star Wars went to Star Trek’s red alert, but chose orange instead. When the alarm stops the colors again go dark. The middle panel on 12 has the background go a stark orange, yet the character is not standing before the open door, as the fifth panel shows he’s standing in front of a closed one. There is nothing in that orange panel to emphasize stress or threat to warrant the orange background. The coloring on K-2 should have been lightened considerably to make his visage recognizable to the reader. He’s sadly a void with some highlights. Once in the blazing sun of the exterior, he’s still black as night. The coloring by Marcelo Maiolo is hurting this book. Overall grade: D+

The letters: Dialogue and narration, droid speak, sounds, and scene settings are crafted by VC’s Clayton Cowles. The narration and the dialogue should have been differentiated by their fonts, rather than the shape of their dialogue balloons. I was glad to see a different looking scene setting text used rather than that used in other Star Wars books, but it’s pretty boring. That said, I was overjoyed to see some sounds in this book, such as the alarm (which is great) and blaster fire. However, the sound for the book’s biggest explosion is too thin and elongated to hold any strength. There are several pluses over other SW books, but some problems still exist. Overall grade: B

The final line: An average comic that tells how the most entertaining character of Rogue One joined the Rebellion. The visuals really hurt the story. For Star Wars completists only. 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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