Back to the Galaxy Far, Far away now, and issue #4 of IDW’s Star Wars Adventures, the monthly title aimed at the younger end of the comic-reading demographic. It’s an anthology series which takes inspiration from across the timeline, editors Bobby Curnow and Denton J. Tipton knowing that for this audience in particular, there is little division between Star Wars’ prequel, original and sequel trilogies, unlike older readers who are perhaps more… set in their ways.
This issue contains two stories as is standard, with the first, and main, presentation being ‘The Trouble At Tibrin’. This 14-page tale is set shortly after the Battle of Yavin. As Princess Leia blasts towards Tibrin, homeworld of the Ishi Tib species, she hopes to circumvent the planet’s Imperial occupation forces and speak candidly with the indigenous leaders of government and broker their assistance for the Rebel Alliance. Assuming the guises of diplomats from Naboo, Leia is accompanied by Luke Skywalker and Rebel troops Tad and Liddle. But when idle smalltalk is overheard by an Imperial security droid, plans are thrown into uncertainty.
Landry G. Walker’s writing is clean and uncluttered, with Eric Jones’ pencils and inks following suit. Jones’ work on our heroes familiar facial features maybe striving for slightly less accuracy than his architecture and armour rendering, but with Charlie Kirchoff’s colours the strip captures the mood and movement of Star Wars perfectly. Series regular Tom B. Long is back on lettering duty, bringing his usual clarity and consistency – essential given the target readership.
This is the first issue of Star Wars Adventures to have its main-story set in the OT-era, and it’s intriguing that the plot borrows a familiar-looking Nubian starship design from The Phantom Menace, whilst also throwing in a KX-series security droid (basically K-2SO from last year’s Rogue One). While Luke is wearing his yellow ‘Yavin celebration’ jacket to establish the point in the chronology firmly in the reader’s mind, Leia’s disguise – in red, the traditional colour of galactic diplomacy and neutrality – is reminiscent of the Imperial Knights, now resigned to the Legends continuity. It’s this willingness to mix things up that make Star Wars Adventures worth the read for all fans of the saga.
But good things come to those who wait, and the fourteenth page of ‘The Trouble At Tibrin’ ends with the words “to be continued…”, a cliffhanger we haven’t had since issue #1. Next up is the ‘Tales From Wild Space’ segment, opening with a framing device set on future starfarer Emil Graf’s junk-collecting ship The Star Herald, as he narrates a shorter story from elsewhere in the Star Wars timeline.
‘Mattis Makes A Stand’ takes us to planet Durkteel on the mid-rim, for the 6-page parable of the young, eponymous farmhand and his best friend Jinby. As they’re out performing the harvest one day, Jinby tells Mattis of the power of storytelling (using past-tense examples of Darth Vader and Princess Leia as an example, placing this most likely in the sequel trilogy-era, given the reverential tone of the stories and the backwater world they inhabit). When Mattis is faced with an urgent moral decision, he turns to his knowledge of the wider universe – gleaned from the stories he’s heard – to help guide his way.
Writers Ben Acker and Ken Blacker (there’s a double-act if ever we heard one) are clearly fans of the broader, mythological side of Star Wars and the hero’s journey as an over-arching format. Annie Wu provides pencils and inks in a looser, sketchier style than the first story, but has a wonderful knack for capturing expressions with minimal linework. Meanwhile, Lee Loughridge’s colours provide an ochre wash for the piece which lends itself to both the arable setting and the retrospective nature of the framing.
All in all, this is another strong entry for the series, with the letters-page suggesting Star Wars Adventures is certainly connecting with its core audience. A mere quartet of issues in, there have already been nods in the direction of the three main eras of GFFA storytelling, and the imminent arrival of Star Wars: The Last Jedi looks sure to cast that net even wider…
Star Wars Adventures #4 is published on 29th November, available from your preferred comic outlets. Remember to check back here and let us know your thoughts once you’ve read it!