Star Wars Adventures #13 – Comic Review

To more theatrical matters now, as IDW Publishing’s Star Wars Adventures #13 opens with part two of ‘Intermission’. When we last left them, Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala were taking a short break from the tumult of galactic civil war, having accepted an invitation from acclaimed actress and entertainer Risha Synata to board her pleasure yacht and take in a show or two.

Fast-forward a day and the pair have found their way behind the scenes of Madam Risha’s self-aggrandising (and historically carefree) museum after being attacked by its animatronic inhabitants. They then discover what appears to be a backroom Separatist bunker, complete with a gigantic holo-recording of one Count Dooku, delivering a pointed message to Synata revealing that Padmé’s invite was at the CIS’s request. Now that the game is up, all our heroes have to do is defeat a legion of robotic assassins and detain their crazed megalomaniac of a leader. For a Jedi and a senator, this should be a walk in the park…

This continuation of the tale runs over 12 pages with the same zippy pace as its predecessor, with the same team of Elsa Charretier and Sarah Stern on art and colours respectively, Elsa and Pierrick Colinet co-writing the piece and Tom B. Long lettering it all in. There’s some great depth in the inks, and enough character-likeness with the familiar heroes (and bearded villain) to keep the action continuous, while still being loose enough that it maintains the brisk pacing it’s established.

That said, in a similar vein to Star Wars Adventures‘ recent Han Solo two-parter, the opening chapter of ‘Intermission’ featured an ongoing narration from Skywalker, as this is a briefing being delivered retrospectively to the Jedi Council. And like the Solo story, part 2 doesn’t continue this, choosing instead to deliver a straight comic strip. Much of what we see within the frames pertains to Anakin and Padmé’s relationship, so that wouldn’t be part of the verbal report, but until we get a council chamber wrap-up at the end of the episode it does feel a little like it’s been forgotten about.

We also continue the overriding theme of last issue’s opener with the balance of opinions, facts and objectivity being brought into play, particularly in relation to war propaganda in broadcast media. It’s not quite as clunky as that sounds, although with Yoda’s post-match observation of “An idea, you cannot kill. In hearts and minds, this war will be won”, there’s little room for actual subtext, here. But Star Wars has been easing its young audience into the political realm for over four decades now, and in times like these there’s no reason it should change gear.

Rounding out the issue is the 8-page ‘Tales From Wild Space’ segment, brought to us as always by Emil Graf and his bickering crew aboard the junk-hauler, the Star Herald. A brief spat over a set of laser-calipers introduces Graf’s homily named ‘The Blue Brothers’ (as stated on the issue’s contents-page), or ‘Mistaken Identity’ (the title embedded within the strip itself).

Located in one of Tatooine’s sand-blown towns, we meet the blue skinned, elephant-like Ortolan musician Max Rebo as he has a rare day off to take in the sights. Receiving grumbling acknowledgement from the locals, it soon becomes apparent that Max has been mistaken for his ne’er-do-well brother, Azool. In short order, our hero has amassed a following of gamblers, bounty hunters and Stormtroopers, all anxious to recover debts and settle scores. When Azool suddenly shows up on a hover-speeder, things naturally go from bad to worse…

Nick Brokenshire takes on the Hutt’s-share of the work for this one, providing the pencils, inks, colours and the writing itself (although series-regular Tom B. Long picks up the lettering again). Nick’s art is sketchy in form yet intricate in detail, with a great sense of comic movement and surprisingly subtle colours. In many ways is feels reminiscent of Serjio Aragonés’ work on Groo The Wanderer. Several characters from the first act of Return of the Jedi arrive in addition to Max Rebo, and the story has a definite ‘Class of 1983’ feel.

As for the meaning behind it all? Well, while the ‘mistaken identity’ theme relates back to the argument which set the tale in motion aboard Graf’s ship, it does feel like the top and tail sections have been bolted on afterward for inclusion in this title. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly not an unusual one here, but ‘Tales From Wild Space’ seems to be more variable in focus as the Star Wars Adventures series goes on. Perhaps eight pages isn’t really the ideal format for lessons with a broader theme, but it would be intriguing to get a peek into the editorial process for this one.

While it’s hardly unlucky for some, #13 isn’t the strongest of issues for IDW’s title thematically, but it remains fun throughout – and that’s the important thing…

Star Wars Adventures #13 is now available in digital and good ol’fashioned paper formats from your preferred comic retailer. Be sure to check back after reading and let us know your thoughts on using Star Wars as a lens for current affairs…

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