Comics

Star Wars Adventures #17 – Comic Review

And so we arrive at the end of January, with IDW Publishing’s latest Star Wars Adventures comic waiting to take the edge off the winter’s gloom. Issue #17 carries on the tone set by its predecessor, in more ways than one.

The main 12-page story is titled ‘Sector 7-E’, set within the framework of the Star Wars Resistance animated TV show. As undercover spy, Kazuda ‘Kaz’ Xiono, maintains his ruse of working on planet Castilon’s Colossus refuelling platform while gathering information of potential interest for Poe Dameron and the Resistance.

When Kaz witnesses a group of thieves ransacking the underlevels of the station, he has to thwart their efforts and also prevent The Colussus from being destroyed. This requires quickly putting into place the technical valve-switching routines he learned from his friend Neeku. That’s if Kaz remembers things correctly, and wasn’t just daydreaming at the time…

The creative team for ‘Sector 7-E’ is expanded from last issue’s ‘All Aces Battle Royale’, with Chris Wyatt joining Kevin Burke on writing duties, while Valentina Pinto returns on the artwork, with Luca Colandrea as layout-assistant. And as before, the main characters of Kaz, BB-8 and Neeku are fantastically rendered, capturing not just the visual likeness but the feel of their TV counterparts.

READ MORE: Catch up on our reviews of all IDW Publishing’s Star Wars Adventures comics

But also as before, the art is lacking elsewhere and the story does little to add to the lore established by the animated series.

It would be easier to be cynical about the latest issues of Star Wars Adventures if Resistance was a bad Star Wars show. Granted, it’s almost certainly not for everyone (although that’s been the style of Star Wars since around 1999 if memory serves), but the programme is critically and commercially successful, and Resistance is doing well in carving out its own niche in the Galaxy Far, Far Away.

While IDW can rightly plant their flag in the sand as being among the first to bring us tie-in media, it certainly appears that the weaknesses in the structure of Resistance are magnified once they hit the printed page, rather than being papered over. The claustrophobic nature of the recurring location can make each story blend unintentionally into the next, while it’s difficult to adequately introduce secondary characters with any depth.

With two tales to fit into each issue, page space has always been at a premium in this title. It automatically limits what can realistically be covered in each strip. But rather than take this as an ergonomic challenge, the team opt instead for having our hero Kaz just explaining everything in dialogue – his thoughts, his surroundings,  what he’s doing at any given moment – to the point where his speech balloons are literally taking up space that could be used for visual storytelling (although it should be stressed that this isn’t the first case of excessive narration we’ve had).

READ MORE: Star Trek: The Next Generation – ’20/20′ – Comic Review

The end result is cumbersome and unlikely to engage the younger readers the comic is keen to encourage. This is all the more frustrating as Burke and Wyatt actually penned the ‘Triple Dark’ episode of Resistance, so it’s not as if writers have been airdropped in who aren’t familiar with the terrain.

Credit where it’s due, it’s great to see the Resistance gang getting another outing so soon. But the entry itself is bare-bones and has little interaction with the wider story, while the art feels wonderful in some panels and half-finished in others. This is not only a disservice to fans of the show, but also unlikely to spur non-viewers into giving it a try off the back of the story…

Relegated to the eight-page ‘backup’ slot in its usual position, the fourth installment of ‘Flight Of The Falcon’ doesn’t fare much better. In an attempt to track the galaxy’s most famous YT-1300 freighter, bounty hunter Bazine Netal (seen in Maz Kanata’s castle during The Force Awakens) is crossing the galaxy, gathering tales from those who’ve brushed against it over the years.

Now Bazine travels to the Corellian underworld, finding herself face to face with Lady Proxima, the worm-like Grindalid who played strict-handed guardian to young Han in Solo. Proxima recounts the time several years after Han’s escape, when the smuggler returned to the planet in a bid to secure parts for his beloved ship, and the confrontation that ensued…

READ MORE: Follow our TV Rewind series through Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Michael Moreci continues to write the strand, with Arianna Florean’s pencils and inks and Adele Matera assisting on colours. It’s visually lean and clean with stylised likenesses of characters we recognise instantly. Even the desolate cityscape of Corellia looks familiar so close to its screen-introduction last year, and the artwork captures the swagger and attitude of its characters perfectly.

Yet once again – and certainly in this isolated format – the piece has little to offer.

Not only is there not enough room to really get into a tale of the Corellian freighter, what story there is seems to lack any meaningful impact, something upon which even Bazine herself is commenting upon with growing regularity. The climax of the story attempts a callback to the early events of Solo, but feels instead more like a rehashed idea.

Looking back over the previous entries (while still appreciating that ‘Flight Of The Falcon’ is not yet complete), it would perhaps have been a better move to tell of the scrapes we’ve seen in the movies, but from another character’s perspective. Although that observation is why it’s admittedly easier to write reviews of comics than it is to write comics.

‘Flight Of The Falcon’ will appear as one more short story in Star Wars Adventures #18, before concluding in its own standalone issue. Next month’s main feature sees the return of Padmé Amidala and Jar Jar Binks. But no complaints about that round these parts. Actually, let’s just wait and see…

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