In Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi Adaptation #1

This book is an injustice for Marvel and Star Wars fans.

The covers: Mike Del Mundo has created the perfect cover for this first issue, showing the moment when Rey handed Luke his lightsaber at the end of The Force Awakens. This is a great way to remind the reader how that film ended and get them pumped for what’s within. Nice use of moss in the shape of the Rebellion’s symbol. It would have been more obvious had the porgs not been included in the foreground, but it’s okay. Joe Quesada & Richard Isanove’s Variant cover features Rey sitting atop her speeder from Jakku. She looks great, the vehicle looks cool, and the colors are great. But it has nothing to do with this film. There were several moments from this issue that could have been done, but this was chosen? Nice, but odd. Much better is the Movie Photocover that features Kylo in profile before he removes his helmet for the last time. This looks great, the colors are striking, and I love when covers have the logo moved to allow the visuals to shine. This most certainly does. Overall grades: Regular B, Variant B, and Movie Photocover A+

The story: Credit to writer Gary Whitta for following what was shown in cinemas. One of the joys of comic book adaptations was that they would transport readers back to the films they saw since there wasn’t any other way to see them except in theaters. Welcome to the 21st century, most films are out on DVD six months or less after they premiere on the big screen. One way comic adaptations can still get some purchasing strength is to include scenes that weren’t in the film. Whether these scenes were cut from the script or were in the novelization, these new moments are designed to get fans to pick up the comics. This book has two new scenes and they involve Luke Skywalker. The book begins with two pages set on Achc-to before Rey arrives as she did at the end of The Force Awakens. Luke narrates that the universe is full of secrets and he has chosen to block out these secrets and the universe itself. Unfortunately the Force demands to be heard at times and though he tries to keep it back he realizes “Something…Someone has found me.” After this discovery, the story moves to the Resistance base located on D’Qar. Ackbar informs Leia that a First Order flotilla has arrived. The Resistance learns among its ships is a dreadnought. They need time to finish the evacuation of their base and Poe Dameron has an idea. Meanwhile aboard one of the ships, General Hux joyfully learns they have arrived on “…the entirety of the Resistance, in one fragile basket.” This leads to the reveal of Poe’s plan, which has plenty of action, but is flawed in one major way and he goes forward with his choice on Page 9 against the words of a superior. A character’s death on 14 will have repercussions later in the series. Snoke arrives via hologram a few pages later and I was happy to see that Whitta skipped the unintentionally humorous actions of Hux as the conversation occurs. Finn wakes up after his injuries from the last film before the story returns to Achc-to and what Luke says to Rey. Though only in two panels, Luke is given some narration while he’s momentarily alone and it’s great. The book ends with the Jedi telling Rey why he’s on the planet, while the Resistance learns the First Order has some terrible technology. This story is a nice compliment to the film and the brief focus on Luke’s point of view is enough to pick this up. Overall grade: A

The art: This element is the reason not to pick up this book. The art is by Michael Walsh and it’s just not good. Things begin to look questionable on the first page with the close up on Achc-to, with that second panel not great. Things improve with the fourth panel showing the huts where the denizens of this world dwell. The distant image of Luke that ends the page is a solid tease. The first panel on the second page looks like a sketch due to the poor work on the rocks (and these rocks constantly have line work and splotches that bleed into the gutters. Marvel, could you clean this up? All this does is reinforce the sloppy nature of the illustrations). Luke doesn’t look like Mark Hamill on this page, instead looking like Jeff Bridges from True Grit. The cross-hatching on the rocks and Luke’s face, as well as other faces, isn’t working. When the story goes to the Resistance ships above D’Qar the charcters are sketchy. Poe does not look good in any panel on Page 3. Leia’s visage is also not good. When Poe goes on his daring flight the blaster shots are blobs, the ship is incredibly sketchy (see Page 8), and nothing in the visuals (or the story) tells the reader where BB-8 has gone or why — the poor droid’s panels in this location are visually confusing unless one has seen the film. Throughout the book the ships look unfinished, with lines not connecting and/or a lack of detail. These pages look like a rush job. Snoke’s introduction to the series is decent, though there’s nothing in the visual to suggest why Hux hits the floor. The penultimate panel on 17 is terrible: the hand, the characters’ faces, and the clothes are suggestions, rather than completed visuals. This runs throughout the book. Going on with these comments aren’t pleasant to write, so I’ll stop. I wanted to enjoy this book, but these visuals cannot spark any joy. Overall grade: D-

The colors: Mike Spicer’s colors also do not help the visuals. The colors are washed out. Nothing is bright or bold. The scenes in space should have a tremendous amount of colors for what’s occurring, but they do not. Granted, the artwork isn’t giving him many options to place colors, but the colors seemed to be blanketed, rather than blended. Look at the sky on Pages 1 and 2: what a blasé sky. The ships are colored so darkly they blend in too easily with the background of space. Blaster fire and explosions, which should be explosions of color, are blobs of colors. This is the most lackluster collection of colors I’ve seen in a Star Wars book since the last film adaptation. Overall grade: D-

The letters: I appreciate that VC’s Travis Lanham has Luke’s narration in a different font from the dialogue. The scene settings are slightly different in this book from other Star Wars’ books, as there’s no double letter effect under it — this is an improvement. The dialogue is still the same wispy, wimpy font of other SW books, however. BB-8’s dialogue seems a little smaller than in previous books; it does come off as weak. And Chewbacca’s wookiee speech–What happened? It looks animalistic. Granted, Chewie isn’t human, but it looks much more dignified in previous books, as this looks primal. There are several sounds in this book, but they’re undercut by the bland colors they’re given. Overall grade: C-

The final line: Marvel has a terrible track record with the visuals of their three Disney Star Wars adaptations, and this continues that depressing streak. The story has fun inclusions, but the visuals are horrible. The art, colors, and letters look as though they’re from a first time independent publisher. This book is an injustice for Marvel and Star Wars fans. Overall grade: D+

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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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