I picked up three comics this week, so I’m skipping the first impressions post and going straight to the reviews. Also, each comic is a different price. That doesn’t happen very often when I pick up more than two comics.
Since Marvel got back the Star Wars Licence, resulting from Disney buying Lucasfilm, they’ve been publishing a lot of great Star Wars material. You could easily say it’s Marvel’s most consistently good comic line since. Spearheading the Marvel Star Wars line from the start is Jason Aaron’s Star Wars series. The entire series so far has taken place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, and with an in-universe 3-year gap, there’s a lot of room for great material. And today saw the last issue in Aaron’s run.
While most of Aaron’s Star Wars comics focus on either the core characters from the movie, or a handful of side characters. But every now and then, he focuses on the other side of the conflict – the Empire. This issue focuses on one particular group. It’s a group of Stormtrooper commandos, of which their leader wields a lightsaber in addition to his other high quality equipment. They’ve been a serious threat to Luke and company several times, but they’ve always failed in the end. This comic starts off with a brief confrontation between the squad leader and Darth Vader himself, explaining how he’s not worthy of the lightsaber he wields.
The rest of the main comic showcases the squad attacking a rebel base, showing what they’re truly capable of. It’s a brutal comic, but one that helps remind us of how much of a threat the Empire is. That’s especially important when this series often focuses on the heroes of the story. This comic does still feature Luke Skywalker, Leia, Han Solo and others, but their scene takes place in the aftermath. They arrive sometime after the rebel outpost is completely destroyed. It closes on a dramatic note, reminding the readers that this is still a war. It’s a powerful way to close off Aaron’s run.
The art by Salvador Larroca is fantastic. The opening scene takes place in a seemingly empty room, putting all the focus on the trooper and Darth Vader. Since both their faces are covered, only body language can be used to convey emotion, and it’s done effectively. The environments through the rest of the comic include a snowy landscape complete with mountains in the background and just the right amount of fog. The attack on the base is full of fire, explosions, debris flying around and a great sense of progress between panels. And the haunted look in the heroes’ eyes at the end of the comic really sells the darker mood. Edgar Delgado’s colouring is also great. The comic is mostly dark which fits the mood, but it’s also quite colourful Probably the best colouring moment is when a bunch of glass is shattered, and it slightly filters everything else behind it – more so when two shards of glass kind of intersect from the reader’s point of view.
This comic also has a great backup story with Andrea Sorrentino on art and Lee Loughridge on colours. It mostly focuses on how tough life can be for the sand people. It shows how they need to struggle for survival, how they face a lot of prejudice (not completely unwarranted) and how their tough life has reduced them into clans. It’s all told through Obi Wan’s narration, and there’s a point where he helps one of them, showing his kind nature as another great closer to Aaron’s run. As expected, Sorrentino’s art is brilliant. The artistic, painted feel emphasizes Obi Wan’s narration, with a bit of a gritty feel that also matches the mood.
Aaron’s run on Star Wars had a few bumps in the road, but for the most part it’s been brilliant. This issue showcases his dramatic writing talent. It’s tonally different from the rest of his run, but reminding the reader that the civil war is still a war is effective. I’m very much looking forward to Kieron Gillen taking over for the next issue and moving much closer to The Empire Strikes Back, but I’ll still miss Aaron’s take on the franchise. Star Wars fans should at least check out Aaron’s full run, and this final issue is strangely enough a great starting point.