In Review: Star Wars #18

I would recommend any other Star Wars book over this flagship title.

The cover: This Star Wars issue opens with an impression of Batman and Robin. Leia and Dr. Aphra are swinging into action, while behind them is an ominous looking droid. Both characters look great and the droid’s shape is enough of a suggestion to let the reader know that it’s not friendly. This illustration is by Lienil Francis Yu, with colors by Sunny Gho. The colors really put some punch into the art, with the pale pink of the droid a good background color for the princess and the doctor to be atop. Nice. Overall grade: A-

The story: The third installment of Star Wars “Rebel Jail” by Jason Aaron opens in an unexpected location: Ibaar in the Outer Rim. Han and Luke are watching the herd of Nerfs they’ve smuggled leave the Millennium Falcon. The two bicker over who brought them to this situation, with Han telling Luke that it’s his job to scrub the ship clean before Chewie goes back aboard. Luke says he’ll do it if he gets to fly the Falcon. Fans will know what Han’s reaction will be, and it is exactly that, however, Luke uses a little bit of leverage to get in the pilot’s seat, though it doesn’t last very long. The humor is predictable in these opening four pages and don’t have anything to do with Leia’s plight at Sunspot Prison. These pages come off as filler when followed by the main story. The power is still out in the jail, the killer droids are still murdering prisoners, and Leia and Sana have had to make themselves ally with Dr. Aphra. Speaking of the good doctor, she’s trying to rewire a massive IG-RM droid as it’s strangling Sana. There’s a lot, a whole lot, of arguing in this issue between these characters and not a lot of action. Their arguing does nothing to move the story forward and it doesn’t add anything to anyone’s character. See-Threepio and Artoo do more to move the story forward than do these ladies. This book seems to belittle all that the women did in the previous issue. At one point an antagonist goes into a prisoner’s cell to reveal something. There’s no impact of what’s said, because it’s not been revealed who this antagonist is, and since it’s not revealed whom he’s talking to, it also has no impact. I’m expecting the reveal of both characters next issue, but right now their scene means absolutely nothing to the reader. After everything seems solved, there’s more arguing. This was old in the first half of the book. There’s a minor cliffhanger at the end, but with my head still spinning around scenes with unknown characters and all the pointless arguing I’m left not caring. This story could have been told in half as many pages. Overall grade: D

The art: The character work by Lienil Francis Yu is his strong point on this book. He does very good work when he gets up close to the characters, Pages 7, 15, 18 and 19. His opening work with the Millennium Falcon is very basic; there isn’t a lot of linework in the ship’s exterior, making it simple looking. Better is the brief interior scenes of the craft, though they’re more suggestive than defined. The droid design is okay, incorporating looks from previous Star Wars book into those characters, though Threepio is fairly boxy. The protocol droid’s head also looks too small for his body in his final appearance on 17. The layout of Page 8 doesn’t work; it’s supposed to be thrilling, but is a cliche: I swear I heard Tom Servo commentary in my head as I read this page. Pages 10 – 12 are very difficult to make out due to the overly dark coloring. This is supposed to be a major scene; after all, three pages are devoted to it. Also too dark to see is a specific action on 16 in a key panel, the fifth. It is confusing: is it a spike or a punch being used? I can’t tell, can you? It is a droid, so either answer is possible, but this isn’t something that a reader should have going through his or her head while reading the book. There’s also not a lot of backgrounds in this book. This is very mixed work, and is not wholly successful. Overall grade: C-

The colors: Blanket colors are used to create an ominous tone, but they are smothering the art. Sunny Gho is doing the colors on this book, and they are hurting the visuals. The second panel on Page 5 loses much of its punch because of the colors being too dark. Things are even worse in the third panel, with the background lost. The three pages with the antagonist and the prisoner are the worst of the book; case in point, the blade is highlighted in white initially, which is good, but then in the final panel on 11 it’s given a pale purple which loses it in the rest of the violet setting. When the results of the knife are shown at the top of 12, it’s again lost in violet. All impact of this action have been lost because of poor coloring choices. A different colorist could have improved this book’s visuals twofold. Overall grade: D

The letters: Chris Eliopoulos provides dialogue, sounds, scene settings, transmission, and yells. A change has been made compared to previous Star Wars books from Marvel: the scene setting uses all capital letters instead of caps and lower cased letters. This makes the scene setting much more dramatic, which befits the scene, and is a huge improvement over how it’s done in other books. I hope this is a change that makes its way across all Star Wars titles. The dialogue is very tiny in size and very thin, with it coming off as extremely miniscule when paired with panels containing very few visuals. Overall grade: B

The final line: I would recommend any other Star Wars book over this flagship title, and that’s an utter shame. Completely disappointing story and art. Overall grade: D+

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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