In Review: Star Wars #19

I'll never read this story again and will try to forget that I ever read it.

The covers: Four covers to find in this final chapter of the Star Wars saga Rebel Jail. The Main cover is by interior artist Lenil Yu and interior colorist Sunny Gho. It has Leia up close to the reader, carrying a metal pole. Her eyes are moving to the sounds she hears coming from behind her: the mysterious person responsible for all of this story’s troubles. A good, simple design with the main figure looking somewhat like Carrie Fisher, while the mystery villain is nicely detailed. The soft pastels give this a nice look; better than glaring colors used for interiors in previous installments. The first Variant is a Black and White cover featuring the art from the Regular cover; it’s only lacking Gho’s contributions. This looks really good. It comes off stronger than the Regular cover. The next Variant is the Action Figure cover by John Tyler Christopher. This features Leia in her “Bespin Gown” and it’s terrific. Every cover by Christopher is a gem and this is another winner. The large image of Leia is wonderful. The final Variant is a “Wanted” poster of Leia created by Francisco Francavilla. This is very sketchy; the image of Leia is rough, the lattice work at the top of the image is very uneven, and the lettering at the bottom is not neat. This looks incredibly rushed. Overall grades: Regular A-, Variant Black and White A, Variant Action Figure A+, and Variant Wanted D+

The story: A mystery man has arrived on Sunspot Prison and taken Han and Luke prisoner. Leia, Sana, and Dr. Aphra have the guns trained on the figure. He holds his finger on a detonator that will kill her friends unless she does what he wants. “This is your last chance to accept what I’ve been trying to show you, Princess Leia. I want you to win this war, I really do. I want to see the Empire fall. I want to give you the tools you need for victory.” Leia says she’ll put her weapon down so they can talk, but he doesn’t want that. “I want you to show me you have what it takes to lead the Rebellion. You have an Imperial prisoner in your midst. Shoot her, and I’ll let your friends go.” Aphra is not okay with this, while Sana is and trains her gun on the woman. The individual reveals himself and I would not have remembered who he was were it not for the note from editor Jordan D. White. This is a new character who has only appeared five months ago. This character’s justification for his actions make sense, but given that he’s only had one previous appearance, he doesn’t elicit shock from his actions. All he creates is a shoulder shrug and an indifferent “Okay” at his appearance. However, Leia has a terrific moment on Pages 6 and 7 that shows she’s not the weak individual the villain thinks she is. The issue climaxes in a good fight, the likes of which is not seen enough in any Star Wars comic. The resolution with Aphra, again, makes sense, but really renders her imprisonment, and the whole basis for this story line, as unnecessary. Luke and Han provide a punchline, at best, and the final three pages tease more stories to fallout from this. A lackluster conclusion from a meandering outing. Overall grade: D+

The art: Leinil Francis Yu is the penciller and Gerry Alanguilan the inker. The visuals are the best when characters are up close to the reader. Leia and Aphra look good in the second panel on Page 1. Leia looks excellent throughout the book, especially when she shares scenes with the villain. Sana is also an impressive figure, and she tussles with Aphra in this issue. The evil doctor is also rendered well, with her final image on 13 strong. The villain of the issue is difficult to make out, as he’s constantly in shadows, even after revealing himself. After all this build up, I really wanted to see the baddie clearly, but that’s not going to happen with Yu and Alanguilan. Luke and Han don’t fare much better, receiving one close up and then given sketchy or blacked out faces. The villain’s final page contains a major question because of the visuals. It could be one of two things: a key or a communication device. Granted, either will help him, but a reader should not be left puzzling what an object is because the visuals do not clearly identify it. The final page has a trio of new characters wearing familiar costumes. The individual in the center is the widest version of this group I’ve ever seen in a Star Wars book, and I’ve reading since Marvel first had the franchise. Ships are also not these artists’ strong suit. The Falcon is first clearly seen on 6 and it looks good, but is terrible on 7: yes, “it” is occurring but hasn’t covered the entire ship yet, so the details on the portion of the ship where “it” hasn’t yet happened should be there and they are not. The ships that appear on 12 are amateurish. The Falcon’s final appearance has it extremely plain. The action sequence that goes from 8 – 11 is the stand out moment of the book. Given what the environment is, Yu and Alanguilan have captured it well and made it very exciting. If only the story allowed for more action. Overall grade: D  

The colors: Of this entire story, this is the brightest installment and that’s a vast improvement over what’s been done. The two colorists are Sunny Gho and Java Tartaglia. A reader can clearly see who’s speaking in the second panel on Page 1, though the villain is little more difficult, though he is being backlit in red. It’s questionable why the remainder of the all the characters’ conversations go crimson, as Leia is the only character to go towards the villain, while the other two stay where they are. When “it” occurs the crimson thankfully vanishes and the colors become normal. This is as things should have been all along: characters and actions are clearly seen, and this is the best part of this issue. Why Page 16 goes tan and yellow is questionable and why the villain is being kept in darkness on his final page is also a mystery. Highs and lows in the art, but this was the best in this story’s run. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, an editorial note, droid speech, and yells are created by Chris Eliopoulos. The yells and droid speech are good, but the dialogue continues to frustrate with its lack of strength. Hopefully Marvel continues to employ the scene setting font that was introduced in this story and use it for all Star Wars comics. Overall grade: B

The final line: Okay, Marvel, you tried a different look for this flagship book. Like the visuals of the Lando series, they didn’t work. Let’s call it even, and never return to this type of art. Why? I’ll never read this story line again and will try to forget that I ever read this in the first place. Overall grade: D+

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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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