Han and Chewie are on the run from bounty hunters and take refuge on a planet that mysteriously shuts down all electronics. With no way off the planet, will our favorite scruffy duo be able to evade their pursuers?
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writers: Cavan Scott, Elsa Charretier, Pierrick Colinet
Artists: Derek Charm, Elsa Charretier, Sarah Stern
As the new Solo movie races to the horizon ahead of us, IDW demonstrate their aptitude for brand synergy once again with issue #10 of Star Wars Adventures. This time we get the usual pair of tales, one featuring everybody’s favourite Corellian smuggler, the other focusing on a certain gambler-turned-respectable-businessman…
As with their issues spotlighting Rose Tico around the release of The Last Jedi, IDW know when and how to tie-in to the cinematic zeitgeist. Their chosen pieces feature the characters which will be on the readers’ minds, in stories light enough to be supplementary reading rather than required staples of continuity.
This first strip in the issue is ‘Powered Down’, following directly on from the Free Comic Book Day special. Opening aboard the Millennium Falcon, we join young Solo and Chewbacca being pursued through the edges of wild space by a familiar pair of bounty hunters. Seeking refuge on an uncharted planet, our heroes find themselves in deep water (literally as well as metaphorically) when all of the Falcon’s systems drop out simultaneously. Han and Chewie eventually find the reason for the power-cut, but in doing so put themselves even further from safety…
Derek Charm’s artwork is bold and full of movement, his strong lines bringing the depth and energy we expect from this twosome, while the carefully chosen colour palettes visually separate the story’s locales neatly. Charm’s stylised characters convey their likenesses more with outfits and body posturing than facial similarities, but the consistency throughout the segment means this is never a problem.
In terms of the writing, we’re plunged straight into the action with a sassy narration from Solo himself (the tone of which would suggest it’s young-Han doing the storytelling rather than his older, more laconic counterpart). Only time will tell how closely Solo’s dialogue matches Alden Ehrenreich’s upcoming screen performance, but Cavan Scott’s scripting presents the slightly naive brashness we’ll be expecting on May 24th. It’s particularly smooth given that Han is the only one ‘translating’ for his Wookiee co-pilot here, so is the sole bearer of the conversational load.
Bonus points are awarded for one of the bounty hunters retaining the uncanny tracking ability (not to mention the starship) he held in the old ‘Legends’ continuity; it’s nice that writers don’t feel they have to deliberately re-invent the wheel under the auspices of the Lucasfilm Story Group. And bonus-bonus points for regular letterer Tom B. Long’s subtle style-change, for dialogue from non-organic beings.
All in all, ‘Powered Down’ is a great story with the flow of the Original Trilogy but the open-endedness of the era that’s about to be unveiled in our cinemas. The only downside? This is ‘Powered Down, Part 1‘, and at only 12 pages, we’ll have to wait a month to discover how this particular pickle pans out…
Following swiftly on is the regular ‘Tales From Wild Space’ section of the comic, with a smaller page-count and a framing device hosted by galactic story-collector Emil Graf. Cruising aboard The Star Herald, Graf shares tales with his two droid companions, Crater and Boo, and the ship’s pet Kowakian monkey lizard, Noni.
The subject of this month’s parable is Lando Calrissian in ‘Family Affair’, at a time when he’s Baron Administrator of Cloud City on Bespin, before the events of The Empire Strikes Back. Just as he’s about to cut a business-deal, Calrissian is interrupted by the arrival of a past acquaintance, Clariah, who’s brought her wayward son Jiandy along, a mischievous trickster who boasts of becoming a big-shot gangster one day. Clariah asks Lando, as the voice of experience, to have a gentle word with the boy and set him back on the straight and narrow. But a stroll in the back streets goes awry when Jiandy can’t resist an opportunity to flex his hustling-muscles, and Cloud City is a place where all debts have to be paid in full…
On art and co-writing duties, Elsa Charretier captures the laid-back swagger of Calrissian with ease, although the sketchy feel of the characters can be at odds with the relatively large size of each panel. Likewise, Sarah Stern’s colour-work is a great match for the inking, but the muted pastels of the Cloud City we know (from either the movie or multiple gaming-iterations) are nowhere to be seen. Solid characters call for solid colours here, and those are what we get.
But that’s not to put a dent in what shapes up to be a fine entry in Lando’s library, and we’ll be intrigued to see how the final fix is resolved. Because this too, is only the first chapter of the tale, a first for the ‘Wild Space’ strip. Truth be told, it feels more like a regular Star Wars Adventures main-story with the setup tacked on, but the payoff is sure to have a lesson attached to keep it in line with segment’s ethos.
On balance, this is another great issue from IDW. But having a pair of two-parters beginning in the same month means there’s no closure through the entire comic. It’s a great way to ensure readership for issue #11 of course, but with work this strong, that should be a sure thing anyway…
Star Wars Adventures #10 is available from your preferred comic retailer on May 9th. Does this make you more excited about the arrival of Solo? Check back after reading to let us know!