In Review: TIE Fighter #4

I shouldn't be rooting for these Imperials, but I've fallen for all the characters.

The covers: Two covers that show TIE pilots on the run comprise the subject matter of this month’s frontpieces. The Regular cover is by Tommy Lee Edwards and has an A-wing, B-wing, and Y-wing speeding close to the surface of a world, obviously to ensure that the TIE that was just shot down is out of action. The ship is totaled, but the pilot escapes death, shown running away from the flaming wreckage in the bottom right corner. I like this because the ships look so good and having the pilot as the last thing seen is really cool. The Variant cover by Leonard Kirk and Guru-eFX is even more explosive. A TIE Pilot is running right at the reader as two TIEs blow up behind him. I love the explosions, the pilot (who looks exceptionally cool), and the TIEs. This is really good. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+

The stories: Jody Houser is the author of both stories in this issue and they are great. The first begins with Cadets Rac Syrmo and Bansu Ro learning from Flight Instructor Yurib Nakan that they’re being reassigned to the 204th. “The Imperial Navy has commandeered the entire class of cadets for the latest war effort. Whether they’re ready or not.” The story then moves to the Pursuer where Colonel Nuress informs the three surviving members of Shadow Wing that Zin Graw, who died during the last mission, was having communications with hostile forces. “If flight officer Graw had survived the battle, she would have been taken into custody on return.” This creates disharmony among Teso and Ganem, while Jella continues to keep to herself. When the two cadets arrive the group is given a new mission that may end the war. I am completely in love with these characters and am already sad that next issue is the last issue in this series. The second tale focuses on young Ganem and his grandmother discussing his future as a pilot. The grandmother has some words of wisdom for Ganem, while he has some cautious words for her. This was a neat peek into the character’s past and is enjoyable. Overall grades: Both A

The art: The first tale is illustrated by Rogê Antônio and looks good. This is particularly impressive given that the only action in the issue is on the first page as Rac and Bansu complete a practice run. I like that Nakan has a scarred face, instantly giving him a backstory that the reader has to imagine for himself. The last panel on the third page is shown from a terrific point of view that emphasizes what they’re discussing. When the story moves to the Pursuer, Ganem is introduced with a slam of his fist on Nuress’s desk. This is a wholly appropriate action for him since he was in love with the deceased Graw who’s now being accused of being a spy. Nuress’s posture on Pages 5 and 6 is brilliantly typical for an Imperial in command: sitting at his desk with his hand together in thought, until something surprises him and he takes a finger to his lip. The reaction from the squad at the bottom of 6 is excellent. Broosh’s anger on 8 is also well done, with him ending in regret on 9. I love his face being lost in the shadows at the end of the page — this creates so much emotional punch. Antônio does an equally strong job with the silent panel on 12 that speaks volumes. The fourth panel on 14 shows two characters bonding in the thick of things, which is a visual change from how they were introduced. The last panel of the story is when the soundtrack would kick in if this were a film. Ig Guara is the artist of the second tale and needs to get more work on Star Wars books! This tale is set on Coruscant in the living quarters of Grandma and it looks just like the quarters shown in the prequels. Grandma has a wonderfully expressive face, with her reactions on 17 and 19 fantastic. I also like young Ganem, whose face tells much of his hopes and apprehensions. The final panel is an excellent conclusion. Overall grades: Both A 

The colors: The majority of the first tale is set within the Star Destroyer Pursuer, which one wouldn’t think would lend itself to a lot of variety for colorist Arif Prianto. Yet, Prianto does an incredible job. I love the rose speed lines in the first panel for the TIES, the blues that lead to their target, their emerald bolts of energy, and the oranges and yellows for explosion. Notice how Nakan has no background colors when he’s revealed, which makes him stand out strongly. The coloring of characters’ faces is really good, with the cadets and the Nakan exceptionally well done. Nuress’s room is in the expected drab Imperial colors, but a red chair and a stronger red for a sound direct the eye. The green for the computer screen looks cool. The one panel flashback is given faded yellows and tans to age the memory. The backlighting on the squad in the final panel is cinematic. Jean-Francois Beaulieu is the colorist on the second tale and things are too dark. The characters have dark skin, are wearing dark clothes, their quarters are dark, and looking through the windows one can see it’s night. These colors are realistic, but cheating for comic books is allowed. The best two colored panels are when Grandma makes an unintentional mess and the final panel of the story. A brighter setting would have greatly improved the story’s visual experience. Overall grades: Prianto A and Beaulieu D+

The letters: Scene settings, transmissions, sounds, dialogue, and whispered dialogue are created by VC’s Joe Caramagna. I like the scene settings that are in a very unique font that have an Imperial flair. I am glad that the transmissions between ships are visually different from the dialogue. My displeasure with Star Wars comics’ dialogue font continues with this issue: it’s too thin and contains no strength when people are angry. The sounds are good and are always welcome to see. The whispered dialogue occurs in one panel as two people quickly exchange words in a room. They are slightly smaller than normal dialogue, but still can be easily read, but communicate to the reader that they are being given in hushed tones. Overall grade: A-

The final line: I’m already sad that next issue is the final issue. I shouldn’t be rooting for the Imperials — they are the bad guys after all — but I’ve fallen in love with all of these characters and I just want them to be happy. Sadly, they are on the wrong side of this conflict. The revelation and discussion about Graw is excellent and the peek into Ganem’s past neat. The visuals are terrific and I would love to see the artists do more work in the Star Wars Universe. This is a great issue. 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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