To the Outer Rim now, as IDW’s Star Wars Adventures #11 arrives on our shelves, bringing with it the conclusions to two two-part tales of trepidation!
First up on this month’s playlist is ‘Powered Down, part 2’, and we venture back to the unidentified planet bordering wild space to catch up with young Han Solo and Chewbacca, set some time after the events of the new Solo movie. When we left them, the pair were stranded atop an energy-projector tower, having disabled its immobilising beam, awakening a swarm of scorpion-like droids in the sand below.
The newly reactivated robots are hell-bent on the destruction of all organic life, and if our heroes are to escape, it looks like they’ll have to form an alliance with the pair of bounty hunters also on their tail. But can you trust a Gand as far as you can throw him? Well, the smugglers find themselves measuring that test on both counts over the pages of the story.
The creative team of last issue’s opener continues with Cavan Scott on writing duties, and Derek Charm on pencils and inks. Series-regular Tom B. Long handles the lettering, and they’re joined in this second-half by colourist Matt Herms.
Charm’s linework is strong and clean, with Herms’ vibrant colours not afraid to shift accent from panel to panel for maximum artistic effect. With tight framing and zippy dialogue, this really is a smart looking comic.
The only area where the aesthetic diverges from last time is that Solo’s ongoing narration appears to have disappeared completely, a shame since it gave the first half the sense of a tall tale being spun in the Millennium Falcon’s lounge-area, long after the fact. The narrative itself still works of course, with our characters double and triple-crossing their way through the strip, snarkily striving for their respective goals.
Speaking of which, ‘Powered Down’ reaches a fairly abrupt end on its 12th page; not entirely unsatisfying, but feeling more like a cliff-hanger for another entry than an actual story conclusion. Keeping in mind that this two-parter was prefaced by ‘Hunter vs Hunted’, an eight-page intro story produced for 2018’s Free Comic Book Day, the final frame really leaves the reader wanting more.
Generally speaking that’s a good thing of course, but Cavan Scott’s really taken that to the extreme…
Rounding out Star Wars Adventures #11 is the ‘Tales From Wild Space’ segment and part two of ‘Family Affair’. Told by story-collector Emil Graf aboard his ship the Star Herald, the last issue saw an Original Trilogy-era Lando Calrissian having his business dealings on Cloud City interrupted by the arrival of an old friend with her unruly son.
With the youngster desperate to become some sort of big-shot gangster, Lando took to the streets to teach a gentle lesson, explaining that the life of a criminal is never an easy one. This went wrong of course when young Jiandy decided to steal a valuable brooch from the jacket of local mob-boss, Askroh.
This second half of the story sees a brief catchup from our host Emil before launching back into the action on Bespin as Lando and Jiandy lead a speeder-chase through the ochre-hued downtown area. And while Calrissian has always been a smoothie, there has to be a limit to how much trouble he can talk his way out of, right?
Elsa Charretier’s expressive and almost sketchy art continues into this second part, as does Sarah Stern’s rich colour-work. But clocking in at nine pages in addition to the previous eight, the decision to spread ‘Family Affair’ out over two issues may have been a little ambitious.
Co-written by Charrettier and Pierrick Colinet, the story peters out on its home-stretch. The thread with Jiandy wraps as expected in accordance with the parable-like nature of Wild Space entries, but with three pages of slightly muted introspection taking the edge off any excitement we’ve had.
And while this may be at least partly the point of the cautionary tale, it makes for a pair of stories which feel like they don’t know how to end. That’s not an unusual state of affairs in anthology-format storytelling of course, but this particular title usually has a tighter grip on the reins.
All in all, this is a respectable but uneven counterpart to issue #10, not quite living up to the promise suggested a month ago. The established format of Star Wars Adventures lends itself to short, punchy stories and that’s certainly where the series it at its best.
The preview page for next month suggests we’ll be going back to the Clone Wars-era, so the pacing should be raised accordingly…
Star Wars Adventures #10 is available from your preferred comic retailer on June 6th. How do these tales from Han and Lando sit on the page now that their new movie is in cinemas? Check back after reading to let us know!
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writers: Cavan Scott, Elsa Charretier, Pierrick Colinet
Artists: Derek Charm, Matt Herms, Elsa Charretier, Sarah Stern