Star Wars Round-Up: Issues Released 11/18/15

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Today, Taylor, Patrick, and Andy discuss Star Wars 12, Vader Down 1 and Kanan: The Last Padawan 8.
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Star Wars 12

Star Wars 12Taylor: The Star Wars prequels will forever live in infamy for all of the things they (George Lucas) didn’t get right. To go through the list of these wrongs would be an exercise in patience since virtually everyone has something different they hate about the prequels aside from their unified loathing of Jar-Jar Binks. So instead of a complete list, here’s just one of the things I hate: too many lightsabers. Remember the battle in Attack of the Clones on Geonosis where there we’re what seemed like 20,000 Jedi with lightsabers battling bug like baddies? I think Lucas’ hope was that this scene would be epic an cool since before then we’ve ever only seen 2-3 lightsabers at once. However, like much of the content in the prequels, it was just too much and the scene was pretty terrible.

Maybe Jason Aaron loves that scene or maybe he just wants to give us all nightmarish flashbacks to that movie, but for whatever reason it is recreated in Star Wars 12. When Grakkus’s gamemaster activates and EMP device all the blasters present stop working. However lightsabers do, so what else would you expect our heroes to do in such a situation?

Lightsabers for all!

Everyone grab a lightsaber – two if you’re Chewbacca because you’re tall and hairy and who’s going to stop you? I think the idea is that this is supposed to be fun. We never see Han with a lightsaber, so in theory it should be fun to see him wield one, right? For my money the answer is no. It’s all just so goofy and over the top. Han Solo is many things but a saber dueler is not one of them. Without a blaster I think he would find a different way to fight, just not with something so ancient and hokey. Of course some readers might appreciate seeing Leia pick up a saber here. In much of the extended universe stories she becomes a Force adept and her brother is Luke Fucking Skywalker so in many ways her use of a saber is justified.

This segment aside, I feel like the issue lacks a certain pizzazz. Sure, it’s full of action and chaos, but much of the issue feels like everyone is going through an old song and dance. Even if the issue is lacking in narrative flare, artist Stuart Immonen turns in a wonderful effort rendering our heroes and the action. In particular, I was impressed by how well he rendered the familiar faces of Luke, Han, and Leia. Often when reading a Star Wars comic I’m taken out of the story when the faces I’ve known literally my entire life look somehow off. Here though, Immonen captures their likeness perfectly.

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Vader Down 1

Vader Down 1Patrick: I think “Star Wars comic” might end up being a new genre of comics. Whether it’s because the Lucasfilm Storytelling Group’s involvement, or the steady hand of editor Jordan D. White, there are a couple of qualities that unite these series. They all employ artists that, while not lacking in personal style, tend towards realism. All of these series end up aping cinematic storytelling techniques, even going so far as to keep sound effects off the page, and making sure the majority of the panels are wide-screen presentations of explosive action. For my money, that “cinematic” presentation is as much a part of these comics’ identity as the characters and lightsabers.

Vader Down 1 doubles down on that commitment to cinematic storytelling, with the incomparable Mike Deodato penciling a stunningly dense space battle. The story finds Vader following one of Dr. Aphra’s leads on Luke’s location to planet Vrogas Vas. Not surprisingly, there are like a shit-ton of rebels there to blow Vader out of the sky. Deodato uses all the familiar angles when depicting the action – there might be more innovative ways to show a Rebel pilot in his X-wing, but the films already did such a good job of establishing that visual vocabulary, so Deodato just leans into it. Which isn’t to say that he’s hampered by it in anyway – Deodato does break from widescreen panels on a few occasions, but always because the storytelling demands that the pattern be broken, as in this badass split panel.

luke vs. vader

This is also moments before their respective ship crash into each other, so having them share the space and face each other is awesome. If all this cross-over event ends up being is an extend cat and mouse game with this two, I’m totally in.

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Kanan: The Last Padawan 8

Kanan 8Andy: A lot of the fun of expanded universe tales comes from filling in the gaps of who a particularly interesting background character is and how they came to be . In many ways the Kanan series itself serves as an example of this, providing backstory and character to the brooding mentor from the Star Wars : Rebels tv series, Kanan himself. This exercise can really flesh out a story and provide deeper character shading that the show or the films cannot spare time for. These stories can vaulter into the redundant, giving explicit reasons or descriptions of a character that one can infer from the regular narrative. This issue trends towards the later, with what becomes a less efficient telling of information given to us in the first couple pages of Kanan 1. In fact all of the story moves reposition us back to immediately where we picked up on Kanan’s story in the first place, making it unclear why the narrative diverted further back in the first place. This ’attack on the temple’ has serviceable enough beats for a reader looking to get their Rebels fix, but the lack of character development makes this particular excursion perhaps a bit self explanatory.

Swords

With All of my poo-pooing of the sluggish narrative aside, the action in this issue does have a zingy glee to it. This sequence beautifully implies the path of the blade as well as the physical and emotional relationship between the characters. It’s a simple device but an immensely effective one at embueing the pace and stakes of the scene with the movement of the blades.

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As an added touch, Pepe Larraz provides some truly delightful facial expressions that bring heart to this exercise. The specificity in these bold expressions tell everything you need to know about the characters in the scene and the contrast between the openness and the scrunchiness of their faces are just plain fun to look at.
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Evidently, there were some non-Star Wars comics released this week. Click here to check out the other comics we wrote about this week!

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