In Review: TIE Fighter #2

Decent story of Imperials finding conflict from others after the events of Return of the Jedi.

The covers: Two choices for the second issue of this series. The Regular is by Tommy Lee Edwards. A monstrous TIE Fighter pilot helmet colored in orange is on the left looking down. Seven TIE Interceptors speed in the same direction against a light green background that has orange speed lines. This is okay, but the coloring makes the illustration somewhat unclear, especially on the pilot’s helmet. A black, white, and gray cover featuring Wyl Lark, a Rebel A-wing pilot of Alphabet Squadron is on the Variant cover by Jeff Langevin. This is essentially an advertisement for the upcoming novel by Alexander Freed out the first week of June. It looks fine, but since it has nothing to do with this book, supposedly, there’s not much for me to get hyped about. Overall grades: Regular B- and Variant C-

The story: Jody Houser starts this issue off right from last issue, with Shadow Wing about to engage with an overwhelming number of TIEs that have launched from a Star Destroyer. Commander Teso Broosh tells his pilots to defend their cruiser and the battle begins. The TIE Interceptors take out several of the fighters, but it won’t last. The Summit is told if they surrender they will be allowed to live, they have no choice. “No choice?!” says the Captain. “You are flying Imperial ships! If you think we’re about to let some Rebels parade around –” but he’s cut off by Broosh who tells the captain that the squadron won’t be able to cover the ship’s retreat. Something disastrous occurs on Page 6, leaving the choices of Shadow Wing to only one. Page 10 introduces an antagonist and his goal, which doesn’t please the squadron members. The top of 14 has one character do something impressive and it makes her awesome. Page 15 sets the story in a new direction and I’m incredibly interested to see what happens next. The last five pages are set several days ago with Lyttan contacting his brother, who’s also in the Imperial army, via hologram. The twins haven’t seen each other for some time so they briefly discuss how things are going for them. Tamu reveals what’s happening away from the battlefield with his family. This gave some solid humanity to the characters, showing that even on the enemy side people have families, hopes, and dreams. Overall grade: B+

The art: The first story is illustrated by Rogê Antônio. His work is very sketchy. Look at the linework in the Star Destroyer and the TIEs — it’s incomplete. This runs throughout the first story, even on people. The layouts are perfect, but the visuals look as though they were incredibly rushed. If it wasn’t for the coloring, the bottom panel on the first page would be incredibly simple looking. I like how each pilot is identified in the large panel that crosses Pages 2 and 3. The fighting is good, but the ships in isolation aren’t working for me, with their lack of details and the hasty looking crosshatching; look in the bottom right corner of 3 to see this. The second panel on 4 doesn’t help, with dots for eyes and incredibly thin fingers. The intense close-up in the middle of 5 is awesome looking, as are the characters and their reactions on 7. In fact, I really like the helmet overlay effect onto those characters. The stormtroopers are horrendous. Better is the antagonist on 10 who looks great in every panel he appears. When Antônio pulls back his point of view to have more than one character in a panel they become very simplistic. However if the panel is large, such as at the bottom of 14, they look great. Sadly, this doesn’t hold true for the final panel of the story. The five paged back up tale is illustrated by Josh Cassara. I was really impressed that Cassara didn’t make this a talking head visual experience, as both characters never move: Tamu is in the holoprojector and Lyttan sits looking into it. Moving the point of view around helps and the emotions that they display are good, though that’s a too strong response in the fourth panel on 18. Overall grades: First story C- and Back up B

The colors: The opening story is colored by Arif Prianto. I like that the background in space isn’t just a blanket of ebony, but is multicolored. The large panel on 2 and 3 is beautiful with the blaster fire, explosions, the background, and the intense oranges that highlight specific pilots. The faint red used for the TIEs’ interiors should be darkened — it comes across as weak and lessens the fighting experience. Coloring is key on 7’s panels that show the pilots and their helmets — very cool. I don’t like the lightening of colors to create depth on the page. This is true for page 11 with Broosh looking as though he’s fading away in the first panel. The penultimate panel of this story has a character’s hand disappear during an action and it shouldn’t have been colored red. Neeraj Menon colors the second tale with a lot of blues, for the holoprojector, and a lot of darker colors for Lyttan in his quarters. It looks fine, but the visual experience is blasé. Overall grades: Both B-

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna is the letterer for both stories and he creates scene settings, transmissions, dialogue, and sounds. The scene settings look great and would be fantastic if they were adopted into all other Star Wars titles. The transmissions are done in italics, making they look different from dialogue, giving them a mechanical tone, which is absolutely suitable. I’m not liking the thin font of the dialogue, however, since it makes characters, even ones that yell, sound weak. The sounds are great, but there aren’t enough of them: strangely weapons can be heard powering up, but not firing. This is not Caramagna’s fault, as it falls upon writer Houser to say if sounds are included. I wish she would have inserted many more. Overall grade: B-

The final line: Decent story of Imperials finding conflict from others after the events of Return of the Jedi, but the visuals don’t help it. Sketchy artwork and good to confusing coloring hurt the impact of this tale. If this is intended to get me excited to purchase the upcoming Alphabet Squadron novel, it’s not working. Overall grade: B-

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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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