Hot off the press now comes IDW Publishing’s Star Wars Adventures #7, containing another pair of action-packed stories from the Galaxy Far, Far Away aimed squarely at the younger end of the property’s readership.
Our first stop is ‘Endangered (part 1)’. We meet the crew from the Star Wars Rebels TV series, opening aboard their trusty ship, The Ghost, as they case out an Imperial cargo cruiser. Ezra has received word that the shipment under their surveillance holds an Argora, a sacred and incredibly rare bird from the planet Xendek, which Emperor Palpatine has had stolen and is being transported to his private zoo on Coruscant.
With the Xendek population in disarray over the bird’s theft, Hera and Kanan have decided that now is the best time to liberate and return the creature. Naturally, their strike-mission won’t be as straightforward as sneaking in and back out again, and while aboard they meet an old acquaintance who promises to make things even more complicated…
Written by Sholly Fisch, ‘Endangered’ has the characterisation of the Ghost executed with knowing precision, both in their motivations and speech-patterns. As the first part of a longer story though, it’s evident that there’s no real pay-off over the 14 pages, even with the appearance of the familiar face they bump into. What’s more, with the team effectively being run ragged around a Star Destroyer over a small feathered animal, it bears more of a passing tonal resemblance to ‘Pest Control’ from Star Wars Adventures #3.
Sean Galloway and Cassey Kuo provide the pencils and inks respectively, and their bold artwork captures the likenesses of the Rebels gang perfectly, while still leaving their own interpretative fingerprint on the story. Old-school fans of the saga will be intrigued to see that the Imperial Stormtroopers on display here seem to be visually modelled on their counterparts from Nelvana’s 1985 Star Wars: Droids cartoon, a style we’ll come back to shortly.
The colours for ‘Endangered’ are applied by Luis Antonio Delgado, with a desaturated yet firm palette which matches both the characters and their settings. Delgado does, however, have an odd tendency to shade his subjects’ noses with more intensity than the rest of their faces, a style reminiscent of the old Bamforth & Co postcards’ depiction of drunk people. This hardly impacts on the narrative of course, but any readers familiar with British nostalgia could find it faintly distracting.
Full judgement on this story has to be reserved until reading issue #8’s second part, of course.
Rounding out the issue is the ‘Tales From Wild Space’ segment, penned by Paul Crilley and titled ‘Look Before You Leap’. Taking place roughly around the original/sequel trilogy era, we join everyone’s favourite Sullustan pilot Nien Nunb with his Duros co-pilot Shriv Suurgav, as a refugee-escort mission goes awry and two TIE fighters threaten to report their whereabouts.
Tracking the Imps to an unidentified planet, the pair land without performing any of the routine scans they’d normally employ. When it turns out that the environment is markedly more hostile than either of them had anticipated, the threat-nullification becomes more of a desperate escape attempt.
This ‘Wild Space’ entry is notable because the Emil Graf framing device, which usually occupies the first page of each story, is reduced to a single panel at either end. This isn’t necessarily a problem of course, but the piece itself is essentially filler-material. Even so, it’s always great to have a comic led by non-human protagonists, especially the largely unexamined background players of the saga; it’s just a shame there’s little for them to do uniquely.
Philip Murphy’s artwork and Wes Dzioba’s colours certainly bring energy to the proceedings, but the characters themselves have minimal shading applied either in inks or colours, with single-linework marking out the texture and detail of each surface. The end result is a sort of wriggly, ‘chewy’ quality, which coincidentally evokes Nelvana’s earlier work on the animated segment of The Star Wars Holiday Special. Overall it’s fine, but both the ‘message’ and execution of ‘Look Before You Leap’ feel a little one-dimensional.
All in all this isn’t one of the strongest of issues for Star Wars Adventures, but that’s a hurdle every anthology series comes to sooner or later. For anyone buying the title on a regular basis, this will be an acceptable also-ran, but readers picking it up for the first time may not be so forgiving…
Star Wars Adventures #7 is now available from your preferred comic outlet. Be sure to come back after reading to let us know your thoughts!