It’s all go here at STT Towers, and the creative teams over at IDW Publishing are keeping equally busy. No sooner have we closed the coffin lid on the spooktacular quintet that was Tales From Vader’s Castle than a new offshoot of Star Wars Adventures emerges, in the form of Destroyer Down. This is the first of three instalments previously published as a Lootcrate exclusive, focusing on the Imperial Star Destroyer, Spectral, which was consumed by the sands after the Empire’s defeat at the Battle of Jakku.
As is tradition with Star Wars Adventures, this issue comprises a pair of tales. The first of these is the titular ‘Destroyer Down’, set on Jakku not too long before the events of The Force Awakens. In the barren shanty-town of Niima Outpost (spelled ‘Nima’ at one point in the comic – a point will be removed for that), junk dealer Unkar Plutt informs his band of sifters that the recent ferocious sandstorm has uncovered the Spectral, the final ship of the Empire known to have been grounded during the planet’s infamous battle decades earlier.
Rumours quickly resurface among the scavengers that the Spectral is cursed, a ghost ship with the spirits of its crew still marching through the hallways and battle stations. And surely anyone foolhardy enough to prise open a tomb deserves all the ill they find within? Ever the pragmatist however, young Rey knows that if she’s to eat, first-dibs have to be claimed on the newly revealed wreck and its potential treasure, before the desert decides to swallow it again.
While ‘Destroyer Down’ is by no means a step backward for IDW, it is nonetheless a return to the title’s early days. Star Wars Adventures opened with tales of Rey’s exploits in the desert, and the subject reared its head again in the Forces Of Destiny tie-in series. While it’s always great to spend time with The Force’s newest daughter, the fact remains that Rey’s years on Jakku before BB-8 came trundling across her path were – by narrative necessity – gruelling and largely uneventful.
Luckily, Derek Charm is on hand to illustrate this latest chapter in his trademark dynamic style, having great fun with both the protagonist’s character-likeness and the array of previously under-used aliens eking out a living on the dustball of a planet. Writer Scott Beatty mines the most out of existing lore referencing Jakku’s isolation and reputation, not quite affording it mythical status but showing that so much history has been lost over the years, even among those who live there.
As is often the case in Star Wars Adventures, the atmosphere which the writers do their best to build up is firmly at odds with the 14-page running schedule. But this opening gambit escalates throughout, and next issue’s continuation looks to ramp things up even more.
The second, smaller, feature in this comic is part one of ‘The Ghost Ship’, as we’re taken back to just before the battle of Jakku (around a year after the Battle of Endor and destruction of the second Death Star) and onto the bustling bridge of the Spectral itself, a Star Destroyer in its prime. Additionally, we meet the Rebel pilots of Shepherd Squadron as they converge to protect their fleet and attempt to take down the Imperial capital ship.
With this segment also penned by Scott Beatty, it makes a tight counterpoint to the main story, dovetailing as an echoing flashback. Taking place at the Fondor shipyards in the final days of the Empire’s rule, there’s also plenty of connective tissue to Star Wars media between the movies, and the love for the Original Trilogy era shines through.
Visuals are handled by a team of three for this outing, with Jon Sommariva’s pencil work boasting slightly more detail than the previous segment, but no less stylised for all that. Sean Parsons’ inks and Matt Herms’ colours bring this to life, with the space battle looking absolutely outstanding in its clarity.
But the page-count is the real enemy once more, with this six-page opener giving a mere taste of Imperial goodness (badness?). Whether the 14:6 ratio sticks or flips in upcoming issues remains to be seen, but the Star Wars Adventures short story structure is at its best when it’s used for telling short stories. Apart from anything else, repeatedly splitting longer tales over multiple issues means that creative use of the short-format doesn’t get a platform, because that’s not a feature which Marvel are pushing at the moment.
Destroyer Down #1 is great fun, but really underlines the weaknesses of the title’s formatting as much as it does the strengths. Still, this should make its readership want to crack out Star Wars: Battlefront again, and that can only be a good thing…
And it’s spelled “Niima“.
Star Wars Adventures: Destroyer Down #1 is available 07 November from IDW Publishing.