In Review: Thrawn #4

This is recommended reading for all Star Wars fans. Outstanding.

The covers: Paul Renaud again creates a spectacular Regular cover for this series. In the foreground is a full image of Grand Moff Tarkin sitting in a chair. Just behind him is the title character with his hands behind his back. Six stormtroopers are behind Thawn, while behind them is wall sized image of the Death Star’s technical plans. This is spectacular. The characters look fantastic, the highly detailed imagery of the Death Star is amazing, and the coloring is stellar — all the reds makes his absolutely ominous. A simply incredible cover. The Variant cover is by Caspar Wijngaard and it, too, is awesome. Thrawn is at the bottom of the illustration, standing before a holographic planet and its satellites. His head is tilted up and is uncharacteristically smiling. Directly above him, looking at the reader, is the Emperor. To the right is Vader in profile and to the left is Tarkin in profile. Behind this unholy trinity is the massive red Imperial logo. A wonderful illustration of evil. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: As with the previous installments, Jody Houser is the writer, based on the novel by Timothy Zahn. Thrawn and his aide Eli Vanto are aboard the Thunder Wasp above the planet Cyphar to investigate a land dispute between the natives and the human colonists. Thrawn hopes that this will lead him closer to the identity of the elusive Nightswan that’s been sowing dissent though the galaxy. On the planet, Thrawn interviews Mayor Pord Benchel, Leonora Scath, Clay Tanoo, and Brigte Polcery to get the colonists’ point of view. Leaving them, even Vanto can tell that the last three are involved with what’s occurring. Thrawn praises him for his skills improving markedly. The Chiss agrees with his conclusions, however they have to interview Chief Joko of the Cypharians. What they learn assists Thrawn in making a plan which is carried out fantastically. There’s a great sequence of events on Page 9 told from Vanto’s point of view. The final actions that Thrawn takes are dramatic and the conversation that occurs on 11 perfectly captures the title character’s essence. The four pages that follow this have something overdue and surprising occur, ending with Thrawn on a vessel that fans know well. The last four pages have Thrawn and Vanto thrown into a new environment, with the title character making some very interesting choices. This series is set before the end of the recently concluded Rebels series, so the ability of the writers to create tension for Thrawn is incredibly impressive. An excellent read. Overall grade: A  

The art: What isn’t artist Luke Ross asked to create for this issue? He has several different designs of ships to create, several characters, a new alien race, military settings, rural human colonies, alien settings, and some outstanding action. There’s also an incredible amount of dialogue that Ross has to allow. This is especially true on the final four pages. It’s always impressive to see an artist who is skilled enough to create images that leave space for the text. Ross is definitely that artist. The opening page introduces the Thunder Wasp and Cyphar before transitioning to within the ship where Thrawn and Vanto are studying information on different displays. It’s incredibly smart of Ross to incorporate the space setting into much of the page and have it available for the text. The montage of images on Page 2 is a great visually summary of the growing difficulties the Empire is encountering. The close-up of Thrawn at the bottom of 3 communicates visually how tense his presence is making their interviews. The journey to the new locale on 4 is fantastic: great settings and great give and take between the characters. The design of the natives of Cyphar is neat, with them looking very different from anything else seen in the Star Wars universe, which is a feat unto itself, but also reminding me of artwork from Marvel’s original Star Wars run. So cool! Page 9 has many of the panels without text, making Ross tell the story solely with his imagery and he succeeds strongly. Page 16 is another montage of scenes that show a character’s growth with very little text and it’s the page that the Chiss’s fans will love. The most impressive pages are 17 and 18: there are a ton of characters in a fairly tight setting with an extraordinary amount of dialogue. Nothing feels crowded on these pages because Ross is a master of what to place in each panel. I’m loving Ross’s work. Overall grade: A

The colors: The colors continue to be a key element to this series. As with Ross, Nolan Woodard contributes strongly to this issue. I love the yellow glow around Cyphar. The muted colors on the holographic screens make them very realistic. Thrawn’s deep blue skin and red eyes always get the reader’s attention whenever he appears. The oranges used for Cyphar gives the planet a wonderfully alien feel. The reds used for the natives are great, with their clothing done in terrific matching tones. The battle sequence is set at night and Woodard really shines on those pages. The final four pages are also impressive. Considering how dark the environment is, it’s impressive for the reader to still be able to see all of Ross’s contributions. Woodard is knocking it out of the park. Overall grade: A

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles & Travis Lanham create this issue’s text which includes scene settings, dialogue and narration (the same font), character names, and two sounds. It’s easy enough to read the text, but, as with all Star Wars comic books, I take issue with the ultra thin font for dialogue that gives no weight to any character’s words. Having the dialogue and narration differed by their balloons and their colors also feels like a cheat; they’re two different forms of communication and should be visually different as well. The character names are italicized, which is a nice way to put focus upon them. There’s a major battle scene in the book, but the only sounds are from the planet’s orbit. Why Star Wars comics refuse to allow letterers to create blaster sounds escapes me. The sound effects of the Star Wars films are iconic and Oscar winning. Their exclusion only draws attention to their absence. Overall grade: B

The final line: Thrawn continues to show himself a shrewd and unmerciful leader. Seeing how the Empire and its commanders work is incredible reading, while the visuals are perfect companions to tell this story. This is recommended reading for all Star Wars fans. Outstanding. Overall grade: A-

To order a digital copy go to

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

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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