In Review: Thrawn #6

This book is a terrific read. Absolutely recommended.

The covers: Two covers to collect for this final issue. The Regular cover is by Paul Renaud and is a perfect illustration for this book. Thrawn wears his white Imperial uniform with his hands behind his back. Behind him is a massive bust of Darth Vader, and behind this Sith is the Emperor. A trio of Star Destroyers and three TIE Fighters fly to the title character’s left. This is gorgeous as it shows the three biggest villains in Star Wars history. The Variant cover is by Luke Ross and Nolan Woodard, the interior artist and colorist of this series. On this cover is Arihnda Pryce running with an older man and woman in tow as they are pursued by several stormtroopers and an Imperial Troop Transport. An explosion goes off behind the transport and to the far right Thrawn and Nightswan meet face to face. A giant bust of Thrawn in his white suit rises out of the sands of Batonn. To the left are three Star Destroyers while the Imperial logo is behind the title character. I like this, but Thrawn should have been bigger. The focus comes off him easily due to the characters beneath him doing so active. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant B

The story: Jody Houser wraps up this issue, based on the novel by Timothy Zahn, in fantastic fashion. Thrawn and Nightswan meet face to face on Batonn. Thrawn reveals he knows something about what Nightswan has been doing with the mining guild because of the large amount of metals the Empire has been recently taking from other worlds has gotten his attention. Nightswan tells the Chiss that he’s uncovered his Imperial files to learn his origin, but Thrawn surprises him by telling him the truth of why he was taken by the Empire. As if this wasn’t enough to rattle Nightswan and the reader, the offer that Thrawn makes to Nightswan is a shocker. This answer to this offer is left unanswered as the story turns to Pryce who’s with her mother and father. Someone arrives at her parents’ residence that complicates their situations, but Pryce shows her true self to get out of this spot. The story then goes back to Thrawn and Nightswan with the offer discussed and both men showing that they’re more different than they are similar. There’s a great scene in orbit above Batonn where Thrawn shows himself to be a master strategist, capable of surprising his own officers. The alliance made on Pages 16 and 17 is great, leading right into a recently concluded Star Wars television show. Pages 18 and 19 have Thrawn getting a promotion, making a statement, and encountering someone who will be very important in the future. But it’s the last page that will leave fans screaming, for someone’s life is about to get very interesting. This was an excellent conclusion. Overall grade: A

The art: Luke Ross also ends this issue in fine fashion, definitely solidifying his position as one of Star Wars’ top artists. The first three pages of this book beautifully show the interactions between Thrawn and Nightswan meeting at a distance. Moving back and forth between the characters, Ross builds great tension, showing characters’ reactions to the other’s speech, with Nightswan having most of the surprises thrown his way. The slight smile on Thrawn’s face in the fifth panel on Page 3 is outstanding. The back and forth continues, but between Pryce and an unexpected foe on 4: the use of black borders between the overlapping panels make the tension and the speed of the scene intense. The action on 5 is great, easy to follow, and done with panels that are slightly tilted, showing the action to be jarring to the structure of the book itself. Nightswan’s face is darker than Thrawn’s on 6 and 7, making his thoughts as unknown as the Chiss’s; this was a neat visual touch. Speaking of dark faces, notice how Pryce’s begins to darken on 8. Having these characters make dark decisions rubs off on their visages, much as they do on Thrawn. The scenes above Batonn are neat, with the number of ships being epic and the actions that occur equally impressive. The five characters whose images are teased on 17 is outstanding, allowing a knowing reader to remember that these characters will have a major impact on Thrawn and Pryce. 18 and 19 show two important characters interacting with Thrawn; those fingers and smile on the latter continually make me squirm. The last character on the page is scream worthy. And speaking of screams — the last page is beautiful for the smile and the lack of one on another character. This book looks great. Overall grade: A

The colors: Just as impressive as the art are the colors by Nolan Woodard. The oranges and yellows that are used for the landscape of Batonn make this world seem as inhospitable as Tatoonie. Thrawn’s dark blue skin has him swallowed by darkness often, making him ominous. His biting red eyes give him a devil’s appearance combined with his dark skin. I like the light blues used for the quick flashback panels, visually telling the reader the events he or she is witnessing are not set in the present. Space scenes are done in violets rather than blacks, giving the setting a very alien feel, which is befitting of a Thrawn comic. Pages 18 and 19 are engulfed in red, which is not the typical color scheme for this locale, but it suits the words and the actions. The coloring in the fourth panel on 19 just grosses me out and it should. I love the greens and violets on the final page, plus the blues in the final panel are stunning. Overall grade: A

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles provides the text of this book which includes scene settings, dialogue, sounds, and a transmission. I never been happy with Marvel’s scene setting and dialogue on the Star Wars books, and I’m not happy with those in this book. I do like the sounds that are used, punching up the action well, though I would have been happy to have some sounds in space as well. It’s not Cowles’s call to decide what sounds are used, but it’s continually frustrating to read a Star Wars comic based on a film franchise that’s won several — several — Academy Awards for sound to have action scenes in space muted. Overall grade: B-

The final line: This book is a terrific read, reintroducing one of Star Wars’ best villains back into the franchise. The story is great, filled with tension from the masterful plotting of the title character. The artwork is great, with characters and settings excellent and the colors beautiful and grotesque. Absolutely recommended. 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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