Like Darth Vader #16, this issue picks up on threads left over from “Vader Down”, helping make that crossover feel more like a part of the overall narrative and not just a one-off stunt. It also features Sana Starros, the character introduced as Han’s wife in the series’ second story arc, which also helps add to the impression that these issues are part of a larger whole, and not just a series of self-contained stories.
Like most of the “Vader Down” crossover, Star Wars #14 is filled with plenty of epic moments, like BT taking out a squad of stormtroopers with a flamethrower, every time Darth Vader gets a line, or the fact that R2D2 has some kind of poison antidote needle in his chassis. And Jason Aaron makes these moments cohere into some kind of a whole with the shared Obi Wan Force Ghost voice for Luke and Vader. (For all of its fun, the Han and Chewbacca vs. Krrsantan plot is just filler in the larger scheme of things.) Add slightly improved art from Deodato and Martin, and the “Vader Down” finale can’t come soon enough. (It comes out today as well and will be quite the family affair.)
Star Wars #13 has comedy, action, and holds Vader back to make him even more terrifying as Leia and her Rebel forces charge forward while the rest of the main cast of the comic is busy fighting the supporting cast of Darth Vader. Mike Deodato’s fight choreography isn’t blistering, but he excels at piecing noteworthy images together, like the progression of events where Luke wakes up from his coma, kicks the annoying BT and runs to comfort R2D2 as if he’s the family pet. “Vader Down’s” cliffhanger game continues to be on point with yet another duel of mind and body to take place in next week’s installment.
The second chapter of the “Vader Down” crossover between Marvel’s Darth Vader and Star Wars books, this issue makes it clear that this is going to be a narrowly-focused story – that is, chiefly concerned with one specific narrative rather than a story spanning multiple threads across multiple books. That said, regular series creators Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca turn in an exciting second chapter of the story, one which moves the overall narrative forward (however incrementally) but also puts the spotlight on the book’s regular supporting cast.
Even if Mike Deodato’s art doesn’t fit the space battle portion of the comic, Vader Down #1 is an explosive start to Marvel’s first Star Wars crossover and will give Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen the once in a lifetime opportunity to show what Darth Vader would do once the chips are down. It’s best read while playing “Imperial March” on an endless loop.
Star Wars #12 brings “Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon”, the second multi-part story of Marvel’s new Star Wars series to a rousing, triumphant conclusion, as all the various elements of the story come crashing together in Grakkus the Hutt’s arena, in the process reuniting the previously-scattered cast and putting to rest the mystery of Sana and Han’s marriage.
The penultimate chapter in the “Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon” story, this issue finds Jason Aaron and Stuart Immonen suitably ratcheting up the excitement and action, bringing the three separate groups of characters (Luke, Chewie & Threepio, Han, Leia & Sana) closer than ever to converging on Nar Shadda as the story heads into its finale.
Not only does Steve Orlando’s Midnighter comic star a gay man, it tells blunt, sex-positive stories about that character. The main cast of characters in the upcoming main Avengers comic All-New, All-Different Avengers has a small minority of white dudes.
While there is still a lot of work on the road to a utopia of complete social justice, there is a trend of progressivism in some of today’s superhero comics that is impossible to ignore.
While picking up the pace of the plot a bit from the previous issue, Star Wars #10 succeeds almost singlehandedly on the strength of one particular pairing of characters. After being teased in the cliffhanger of issue #9, this issue fully introduces Chewbacca into the “Showdown on Nar Shaddaa” storyline (in the same month as the first issue of his solo limited series launches) and pairs him with perhaps the unlikeliest of partners: C-3PO. The end result is comic book gold.
Continuing “Showdown on the Smugglers Moon”, Star Wars #9 is, essentially, an all-out action issue, advancing both of the story’s two plots incrementally in favor of extended action scenes. The end result is an entertaining issue that nonetheless reads briskly and is somewhat unsatisfying as a result, since not a whole lot of plot advancement or character development happens.
Though less photo-realistic and painterly than previous artist John Cassaday, Immonen is much more of a traditional comic book artist, eschewing strict realism for more representative & kinetic action and layouts. He also has a particular knack for using body language and facial expressions to express characterization, showing readers visually what a given character is feeling at a given time just by the look on their face or the way they’re standing. It’s a skill he puts to good use here, making vivid Luke’s aw-shucks naivete as he stumbles his way through a Nar Shaddaa bar fight, Han’s combination of chagrin and frustration at Sana’s continued instance that he’s A. up to no good and B. her husband, and the transition of Leia’s reaction to Sana from wry amusement to righteous fury as the woman proves to be no easy pushover.
For the most part, Star Wars #7 is skippable filler even for hardcore Obi Wan fans. The character does get a bit of an arc, but it is mired down in navel gazing narration and shoddy action set pieces. Colorist Justin Ponsor does nail the fact that Tatooine is the planet farthest from a bright spot in the universe with his light browns and faded whites and yellows with a tinge of red for its beautiful binary sunsets. However, this is just a tiny plus in a book filled with minuses.
Writing a Boba Fett fight scene must be tricky, due to the disconnect between his portrayal in the films and everywhere else. On screen, there’s not much to Boba Fett: in Empire Strikes Back, the audience is told he’s dangerous but he doesn’t really do much but look cool, and then in Return of the Jedi, he has brief fight with Luke before a jet pack malfunction sends him to his seeming death inside the Sarlaac Pit (something an “over-reliance on technology” message George Lucas would repeat with Boba’s dad in Attack of the Clones). From the films alone, Boba Fett is a cool looking character with a great reputation who, at best, doesn’t do much and, at worse, is kind of a chump.
Boba Fett is, essentially, the Star Wars’ universe version of Wolverine, two tremendously popular characters who built their following on the basis of a cool image, a mysterious past, and a tough guy mindset, whose popularity grew to the point that they came to dominate their respective franchises while everything that made them intriguing in the first place suffered for their ubiquity.
Following the series’ initial, action-packed story arc, Jason Aaron and John Cassaday settle in for a relatively quiet fourth issue. This is a breath-taking issue, a chance for the creators to focus on characterization and set some plots in motion. To wit, there’s Luke Skywalker, dealing with the reality of his (non)status as a Jedi following his confrontation with Darth Vader in the first arc
With this issue, Jason Aaron and John Cassaday wrap up the inaugural story of Marvel’s new Star Wars series, an action-orientated finale finds the Rebels fleeing from the surging fury of Darth Vader aboard their purloined AT-AT walker, desperate to reach the Millennium Falcon, as Luke does his best to ensure their mission wasn’t for naught. As a single issue, it’s all a bit rushed (particularly in the subplot with Threepio losing control of the Falcon to a group of scavengers, which added a nice bit of tension to last issue but doesn’t really payoff much here), but it’s to the larger story’s benefit that it only runs three issues. Overall, there’s not much plot here (Rebel mission goes south in part 1, they try to escape in issue 2, they escape in issue #3), but thankfully it doesn’t get stretched out any further than three issues.