In Review: Thrawn #5

A villain is revealed and a high level Imperial seeks to enlist one of Thrawn's allies.

The covers: The Regular cover is by Paul Renaud and it’s a knockout. Thrawn is in the top half of the illustration looking forward with Imperial lights on either side of him. Below him are images of Vanto and Nightswan staring each other down. They’re standing on an Imperial logo while behind them is an space shot of Star Destroyers and TIES battling other ships. This looks incredible. This is definitely print, poster, and tee shirt worthy. The Variant cover by Rafael Albuquerque & Laura Martin is a really cool, moody piece. Thrawn is shown in a three quarter’s bust shot from the right blending into the stars of space. In the bottom left is a Star Destroyer leaving a planet as an explosion goes off at the top of the world. Great coloring on this as well, with the title character’s skin and eyes really standing out. If there’s any grousing to be done about this cover is there’s not enough of Thrawn shown. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant B+

The story: Jody Houser’s adaptation of Timothy Zahn’s novel is great. The book opens above Batonn as Thrawn and Vanto are watching the battle between a Star Destroyer and planetary weapons. The pair are in a non-Imperial ship to watch the fight safely. During the battle Thrawn notices a freighter that’s bypassing the skirmish. Vanto is ordered by his superior to contact the ship and claim to be a weapon’s smuggler. The freighter agrees to meet with Vanto, who puts on Thrawn’s old lieutenant’s plaque so the smugglers believe he stole it from a felled Imperial. Vanto gets on the ship and meets with the infamous Nighswan that they’ve been chasing. The identity of this character causes Vanto some issues, but, naturally, Thrawn has thought things through. The story then takes a turn when a supporting character, who saw a lot of action in the television series Rebels, returns, with a mission involving Thrawn and Vanto. As this occurs, Thrawn takes a step toward an unlikely character, while Vanto is approached by someone with something to offer. Great plotting in this issue with the characters being sensational. Overall grade: A

The art: One of the many joys of Luke Ross’s visuals on this book is how Thrawn dominates a panel or page, even if only his eyes are shown. Look on Page 2 how Vanto is in the foreground for the majority of the page, but Thrawn commands attention due to his lack of emotion and his piercing eyes. Heck, the final panel on the page only shows Thrawn from his nose up and he’s terrifying visually. And don’t forget to look at the the concentration and frustration on Vanto as Thrawn teaches the young man. The reveal of Nightswan on 5 is cool, with the setting being the complete opposite of what one would expect for this character, as well as the identity of the character being a great one. I love the tight close-up of the seventh panel on 5, making the dialogue receive a strong emotional boost. The tilting of a panel on 7 conveys a cool bit of movement. Most of 8 has panels skewed to increase the tension of the action. The reintroduction of a character on 8 is intense due to a slight smile on the individual’s face. 10 and 11 use holograms and it was neat to see them not clearly rendered, giving the conversation on the page a much rougher feeling than those often shown in Star Wars comics. The final image on 15 says much visually to the reader, allowing him or her to guess what’s going through the character’s mind. The use of shadows on a character’s face on the final page ups the sinister level of this individual considerably. Ross is truly showing himself to be one of Star Wars’ greatest artists. Overall grade: A 

The colors: Nolan Woodard is also doing an exceptionally well done job on this book. Using violets for the space is a neat way to create darkness without going wholly black. Contrasting these violets with the pale oranges of Batonn is smart. Thrawn’s skin is very dark blue in this book, making it seem he’s always in the shadows. And those deep crimson eyes of his are outstanding. The interiors of the freighter are tan and brown, increasing the worn down appearance of the vessel. The blues used in the hologram scene look great, giving the apparitions a ghostly feel. The last panel of the book is outstanding for the reds employed. Just great! Overall grade: A

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles creates scene settings, dialogue and narration (the same font), transmissions, and sounds. This is the first time I’ve encountered a Star Wars book where the scene settings aren’t blurry. Using a solid blue for the interior of those letters might be why they look better than usual. The dialogue and narration still looks incredibly weak, but the transmissions and sounds, with that outstanding klaxon, look great. Overall grade: A-

The final line: A villain is revealed and a high level Imperial seeks to enlist one of Thrawn’s allies in this latest issue. The story is clever and the visuals outstanding. This continues to be one of the most thrilling Star Wars titles from Marvel. Overall grade: A

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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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