Comics

Star Wars Adventures #9 – Comic Review

Droids take center stage in both stories of this comical and exciting adventure! C-3PO might be in over his head as he takes on a new job, and IG-88 is determined to capture his crafty bounty!

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: John Barber
Artist: Nicholas Brokenshire
Pages: 32

As the evenings lighten, the air warms and that golden orb in the sky becomes a more frequent visitor to our collective days, fans of Star Wars comics get to turn their heads to another golden presence, one who also brings a warm glow and a smile to the face.

Everyone’s favourite protocol droid, C-3PO, heads up the main strip in Star Wars Adventures #9, IDW’s title aimed at younger readers. The title of the tale, ‘Trouble Again’, is a reference to the theme song for Nelvana Animation’s 1985 TV series, Droids (and which was written and performed by Stewart Copeland of The Police, trivia fans), and sets the playful tone for the piece before readers have gotten past the contents page.

Taking place aboard Corellian Corvette, The Sundered Heart, sometime after the events of Revenge Of The Sith, a recently wiped C-3PO assists Captain Antilles in surreptitious aid operations against the newly formed Empire. He’s assisted, of course, by astromech  R2-D2, plus a seeker-droid designated PTZ-1K. When Artoo suspects all is not what it should be with their new mechanical companion, enlisting Threepio’s help is an uphill struggle…

Chad Thomas’ artwork is outstanding here, bridging the gap between modern-era comics and the stylised caricatures of Nelvana’s output. Heavy linework adds definition to each panel and is matched by Matt Herms’ bold colour palette. What’s most enjoyable is that although C-3PO has a fixed facial expression throughout (which is only right, of course), Thomas captures the droid’s near permanent state of righteous outrage and panic through deft framing, body posture and the telling placement of his pupils. It leads to a level of expression from a robot that many artists spend years mastering with human subjects.

But of course, C-3PO would be an ornament without his script, and writer John Barber holds up his end of the bargain with dialogue which fits the character we know like a scripted glove. True to goldenrod’s neurotic form, it appears that not only has Threepio been told that it was Bail Organa who ordered his memory to be wiped, it’s a subject he himself brings up – without malice or blame – in conversation. All of which seems faintly tragic and perverse in equal measure.

The narrative itself is somewhat throwaway, which we’ve perhaps come to expect from 12-page standalone stories, but it’s nice to see the era between episodes III and IV getting a little padding out, especially with characters who are so central to the saga overall.

The second strip in this issue comes in the form of the regular ‘Tales From Wild Space’ segment, and the framing device of story collector Emil Graf trying to rid his ship of cable-chewing mynocks. This callback to The Empire Strikes Back paves the way for ‘IG-88 vs. The Gatto Gang’, an eight page story in which the notorious droid bounty hunter attempts to track a trio of scurrilous aliens who are in debt to Black Sun.

Taking place on an un-named planet in what looks to be a locale similar to Tatooine’s Mos Espa, this is a three-pronged cat and mouse tale, with IG-88 (sporting a rather dashing poncho, no less) methodically baiting the three targets into capture once they split up. Unfortunately, the choice of hunter and quarry don’t quite match, here. There’s a comic element to The Gatto Gang’s capers which sits at odds with the cold, calculating reputation of the machine that’s chasing them.

Now obviously, in a title such as Star Wars Adventures, the action aimed at the younger audience will necessarily be lighter in tone (and parents can rest assured that the Black Sun bounty was evidently for live-capture), but it feels slightly awkward that IG-88 – the Terminator of the Galaxy Far, Far Away – should be involved in shenanigans of this sort. This is increased given that the moral of the story is described to be ‘patience is a virtue when completing a task‘; a fine sentiment in itself, but perhaps not as accurate for this parable as ‘if your prey is this indelibly stupid, just wait for it to come to you‘.

All that said, Nick Brokenshire has written and produced the tale completely (with lettering from series regular Tom B. Long), and his visuals hold up solidly against the first story, reminiscent of Sergio Aragonés’ Groo The Wanderer in detail and style. And much like Artoo and Threepio, IG-88 is always a welcome addition to the proceedings…

With some nice throwbacks to the Original Trilogy that still keep an eye on the wider continuity, Star Wars Adventures #9 is a strong play from IDW. It’s another peg in the ground showing their commitment to mining fun from all eras of Star Wars, and long may that continue.

Star Wars Adventures #9 is published on April 18, available from your preferred comic retailer. After reading, be sure to come back and let us know what you thought!

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