We return now to IDW’s timeline-spanning ‘Flight Of The Falcon’ anthology. Aimed at the younger end of the reading demographic, chapters appeared in Star Wars Adventures issues 14-18, as well as branching out to a choose-your-own-adventure style book and two junior novels.
The second of these, Pirate’s Price, was published in January 2019 and centres around Clone Wars favourite Hondo Ohnaka as he liberates the Millennium Falcon from the clutches of bounty hunter Bazine Netal, who finally managed to track it down after a lengthy process. These events are summarised on the first page of this one-shot issue which concludes the story.
Readers who have only been following the thread in the pages of Star Wars Adventures may feel a little put out by this glibly-explained gear change. Although those same readers are also likely to admit that it’s entirely in keeping for a series which has sometimes squandered its potential on consequence-free anecdotes that add little to the canon.
Set after the events of The Last Jedi, we open on Batuu, a recently-created planet which will soon be the centerpiece for Disney’s Star Wars theme park, ‘Galaxy’s Edge’ (IDW once again leading the charge with timely crossover marketing). Hondo Ohnaka sits in a sleazy bar conversing with Bala Tik, the Scottish-brogued mercenary last seen in The Force Awakens trying to wheedle cash out of Han Solo.
When Ohnaka brags of owning the Millennium Falcon, Bala-Tik initially scoffs, then challenges him to a race to prove this. With neither of the entrants having a reputation for honesty, the race turns out to be anything but straightforward.
As per previous entries to the comic-strand, Michael Moreci returns on writing duties with Arianna Florean providing pencils and inks. In a change of roster, colours are applied by Mattia Iacono and Sara Martinelli.
The colour-palette is bold without being garish, and fits seamlessly with the aesthetic for the issues so far. Florean’s artwork is outstanding as always. Her framing and positioning carry a sense of movement even when two characters are just having a conversation, while character likenesses are instantly recognisable yet uniquely stylized, their cartoonish air backing up the lighthearted nature of the pacing.
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The real wildcard is, as ever, the writing. Earlier chapters have been burdened with a lack of actual story, then struggled to make the best use of an eight-page segment in which to tell it. Readers might hope that an entire standalone issue would provide a more suitable platform for an engaging tale to be told. Readers might be disappointed.
Because Pirate’s Price is glossed over so hastily – the implication being that readers will of course be familiar with it – Hondo’s sidekick of Mahjo Reelo is introduced in a similarly casual manner. Mahjo was a central character created for the novel and seems to be treated with according importance, but without the strip actually explaining why she’s here. This feels like a loose end while panels are filled with Ohnaka’s self-aggrandising dialogue.
But the main problem is that the plot just isn’t interesting. Hondo has the Falcon at the beginning, he has it at the end, the reason for his ‘ownership’ is implied as being explained elsewhere and the curator of the series, Bazine Netal, is nowhere to be seen. So what happens here?
While it looks great, IDW’s ‘Flight Of The Falcon’ one-shot feels like an unnecessary detour from a story which was already struggling to justify its existence. In that regard, it’s a fitting conclusion.