When Disney purchased Lucasfilm, one of the more unfortunate casualties was the one-issue comic stories like those found in Star Wars Tales. Sometimes these would fill in small gaps or plot holes in the films or other literature, while others would show our first and only peek at a once-mentioned planet or idea. This was a great way to not only expand the Star Wars mythos, but was a goldmine for writers and the readers.
Star Wars Adventures is Disney’s attempt at reviving this format, although aiming more for middle-school readers. The first volume already exhibited the high production values one would expect from a Star Wars comic, but the stories included lacked much substance. While the series still has a way to go, its second trade paperback collecting the five stories from issues 3-5 does show some welcome signs of growth.
Given that Lucasfilm is clearly intent on keeping Finn around without providing much of a backstory, ‘Pest Control’ is a welcome comic tale of him trying to wrangle a loose creature onboard the Finalizer. At this point, any glimpse of the goings-on with the First Order pre-Force Awakens is appreciated, and some cute creature design helps sell the cliched plot. It is not the strongest way to start off the volume, but one can imagine it playing well with the kids.
‘The Trouble at Tibrin’ covers more familiar Star Wars comics terrain as Luke and Leila attempt to help a planet controlled by the Empire. As one of them is kidnapped and taken aboard the orbiting star destroyer, it is up to the other to stage a rescue. While seeing these classic heroes in action is always nice and the action is well-rendered and exciting, any Star Wars reader will have seen this exact same plot line many times before. That it is the most exciting story of this collection says a bit about the current storylines that Adventures is covering,
Finishing up this volume are three Tales from Wild Space stories, following a smuggler as he recounts legends he knows to his droids. The first, ‘Adventures in Wookiee-Sitting,’ depicts Rogue One’s K-2SO as he must watch over some young Wookiee’s while Cassian is on a raid. Another fairly standard plot for comics aimed at kids, its charms come from getting to spend more time with K-2SO, who remains one of the best characters from the new films.
Both of the final two tales have more direct ties to either The Last Jedi’s plot or themes. First, ‘Mattis Makes a Stand’ is a brief story about a child farmhand named Mattis who is inspired by the legends of the Skywalkers. After seeing a friend being bullied, these stories give him the courage to confront the bully and set everything right. As a plot, it’s bare-bones for a comic, but it does at least try to make a point about the idea of “legacy” that The Last Jedi leaned on heavily. ‘Best Pet’ depicts how the Porgs snuck into the Millennium Falcon in the first place, relying on the inherent cuteness of the creatures and their adorable mannerisms to succeed.
All of the stories provided in Volume 2 are enjoyable enough on their own merits, although only ‘The Trouble at Tibrin’ is the only one to add anything of note to the canon. For parents and younger fans, Star Wars Adventures is a nice introductory series into the world of Star Wars comics, with its pleasing visuals and solid dialogue elevating it above the usual fair written for this age group.
For older fans, there is nothing in this series so far to make it essential reading. Much of that has to do with its targeted age range, but it is also due to the limited parts of the timeline available to writers. Since writers can only stay within eras that have been established by the films and new canon media, many comics and novels are already starting to feel redundant.
Since one-off comics have usually been used to explore brand new ideas and points in the Star Wars timeline, the constraints on Star Wars Adventure are even more obvious. There are few answers to this problem while they continue to make new films that take precedence in defining the timline, although encouraging more original set-ups and narratives in the one-off comics would go a long way to freshening stories in familiar eras.
As it stands, the issues compiled in this second volume provide some definite joy, but lack much in the way of substance.