An Opaque Reflection of Anakin in Darth Vader 19

by Spencer Irwin

Darth Vader 19

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I could easily spend hours listing qualities that make Darth Vader one of media’s most terrifying villains, but one of the most prominent is simply how inscrutable he is. His mask and his voice give away almost nothing about his emotions, his goals, or his thought process, rendering him cold and unknowable — and nothing’s scarier than that. Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli have made excellent use of this attribute in their run on Darth Vader, and issue 19 is no exception. Despite offering up a mirror, an echo of Vader’s former life, in the form of exiled Jedi Eeth Koth, the Sith Lord remains as fascinatingly opaque as ever. Continue reading

Star Wars 52: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Michael: In The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader has a score to settle with Luke Skywalker — solely for the reason that he is the rebel who blew up the Death Star. But Luke was only able to take that final shot because Han Solo intervened and blasted Vader’s Tie-Fighter out of the way. It is the dogfight of A New Hope. In Star Wars 52 we get the rematch we never knew we wanted: Han vs. Vader. Continue reading

De-Romanticizing War Stories in Poe Dameron 29

by Patrick Ehlers

This article containers SPOILERS. If you have not read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

This arc in Star Wars Poe Dameron has been all about telling war stories: who does it, and why they do it. The answers thus far have been pretty straightforward. Poe tells Rey and Finn what he was up to during The Force Awakens so they can bond over their differing perspectives on a shared experience. It brings them closer together. And Artoo and Beebee honor their fallen droid brothers by recounting the serial number of every robot lost in the attack on Starkiller Base. These are noble war stories, and that’s weirdly consistent with the tone of the original trilogy. For as much as Star Wars was about Vietnam, Lucas perhaps didn’t have the historical perspective to capture the tone or cadence of war stories from that conflict. With Poe Dameron 29, writer Charles Soule taps into a sense of hopeless, confusion and pointlessness, rounding out his list of reasons to tell war stories with one of the hardest explanation out there: because they happened. Continue reading

Star Wars 50: Discussion

By Patrick Ehlers and Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Patrick: With the conclusion of the “Mutiny on Mon Cala” story arc, things are looking up for our heroes. And why wouldn’t they? One of the features of Marvel’s interquel Star Wars series is that we know an awful lot about both the past and future of these characters. There’s a dramatic irony baked into the entire concept of this series. Any time Luke, Han, and Leia are in mortal danger, we can override our fears for their safety by simply remembering that they all live to fight another day. But that’s only half of it, right? We also know that the Rebels are on the run by The Empire Strikes Back. Writer Kieron Gillen and artists Salvador Larroca and Giuseppe Camuncoli use the oversized issue 50 to pivot from inevitable safety to inevitable danger. Continue reading

Doctor Aphra 21 Highlights The User and The Used

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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I have been constantly struggling with my feelings in regards to the titular Doctor Aphra. Under writer Simon Spurrier, Aphra has become a more Deadpoolian character than she might have been before: riding the line between amusing and despicable. Dastardly villain or loveable rogue? Still uncertain. However Star Wars: Doctor Aphra 21 makes one thing clear: Aphra will do anything to survive. Continue reading

Approaching Old Stories From a New Angle in Poe Dameron 28

by Spencer Irwin

This article containers SPOILERS. If you have not read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The fact that The Last Jedi picks up almost immediately where The Force Awakens left off leaves the Poe Dameron comic in a bit of a tight spot — the Star Wars comics have been mining the fertile ground between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back for decades now, but Poe Dameron doesn’t have that kind of space to work in, instead leaving Charles Soule and Angel Unzueta only tiny blank gaps of backstory to fill in. We here at Retcon Punch have been a bit frustrated by this over the past few issues, generally preferring the sweet, chemistry-filled framing device (a conversation between Poe, Rey, and Finn) to the actual stories it’s being used to tell. Poe Dameron 28, though, finds success by approaching these vignettes from a new angle, building a mystery around who actually is telling the story. Continue reading

A Story Deepened by Shades of Gray in Darth Vader 17

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Throughout their run on Darth Vader Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli have created (and/or reintroduced) a fascinating set of supporting and one-off characters, but for my money, the most intriguing is Jedi Master Ferren Barr. Last month Patrick already seemed suspicious of Barr’s methods, and in Darth Vader 17 the creative team doubles down on the shades of gray surrounding Barr. It’s the questions surrounding him and his methods that make Barr so interesting, especially as a Jedi. Continue reading

Star Wars 49: Discussion

By Patrick Ehlers and Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Patrick: If there’s one part of the Star Wars formula I’ve had the hardest time connecting to on a personal level, it’d have to be the huge battles between spaceships.  Don’t get me wrong: I think the ships look cool, and the Millennium Falcon is so near and dear to my heart that I almost cried during its reveal in The Force Awakens. But there’s something about two factions of cold, gray, lifeless ships zipping through space and shooting blasters at each other that feels remarkably impersonal. With Star Wars 49, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca set out to stage the mother of all space battles at the birth of the Rebel Armada. By linking the ships to the characters, the creators create a sense of emotional continuity that makes this one of the best space ship battles I’ve ever seen. Continue reading

Leia is The Great White Savior in Star Wars 48

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Science fiction has always been known for its social commentary. Different races of aliens have been stand-ins for all kinds of different cultures and subcultures in the real world. But as much as a show like Star Trek depicted the importance of diversity and inclusion, Captain Kirk was still cast in the role of “The Great White Savior.” Thought it’s not as overt, the ending of Star Wars 48 leaves me with that same uneasy feeling. Continue reading

Doctor Aphra 20: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Darth Vader: You are overly fond of talking.
Doctor Aphra: I’m nervous.

-Darth Vader 3

Patrick: Chelli Lona Aphra is a motormouth. She’ll unleash a torrent of words when she’s confident, when she’s nervous, when she’s got something to hide, and when she’s got something to say. It makes it tough to get a read on her, but after 20 issues of her own series and a bunch of appearances in Darth Vader, the reader has the benefit of familiarity. By this point in our journey with her, we sorta know Doctor Aphra. The Imperial chumps trying to probe her for information, on the other hand, don’t stand a chance of untangling the truth. Writer Si Spurrier leverages dramatic irony, both in the form of the reader’s past experiences with Aphra and by contrasting his words with Kev Walker’s art, to dig deeper into the character of Doctor Aphra. Continue reading