Star Wars Adventures #21 – Review

IDW Publishing’s Star Wars Adventures returns to the Original Trilogy for issue #21, with familiar characters in both of its stories.

First up is ‘Swoop Racers’. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Chewbacca are assigned by Princess Leia to the Outer Rim planet of Rion, to negotiate essential supplies for the hiding Rebels. Han becomes distracted at the prospect of a local speeder race, noting that the substantial winnings would be a great benefit to the Alliance – with himself doing the winning, naturally. What Han has failed to point out is that the entry fee would have to come out of the same pot that Leia has entrusted to the trio for bargaining…

This 12-page headliner reunites the title’s A-team of talent, with Cavan Scott penning the story, Derek Charm’s artwork and Matt Herms providing colours. Charm’s carefree portraiture leaps out first and foremost, his likenesses loose yet instantly recognisable. This is aided in no small part by Herms, boldly applying colour from an earthy palette which embodies the OT-era.

If there’s any downside to Charm’s illustration it’s that his heavy linework can sometimes hamper the sense of movement required for a rollicking adventure, and with the tale centering around a high-speed race that’s a definite concern. It’s Herms who comes to the rescue with colour blending and anime-like backdrops which add the necessary speed, along with a smattering of strong feature panels.

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Fans of chronology may furrow a brow as Leia’s cinnamon-buns indicate that this takes place between episodes IV and V, while Luke and Han are in their ‘Bespin outfits’. But the story then shows that an Imperial bounty has been put on Solo already, raising the question of why Darth Vader would place a further one on the Falcon during The Empire Strikes Back. Ultimately this doesn’t matter of course, as ‘Swoop Racers’ is lighthearted, throwaway fun, painting in some background texture to established classics.

Our next call is ‘The Heist’, beginning aboard Emil Graf’s Star Herald where the antics of Noni, the Kowakian Monkey-Lizard, inspire the story collector to tell a fable from Chalmun’s Cantina in Mos Eisley. It concerns Kabe, the diminuitive Chadra Fan thief, pulling off a single-handed ‘liberation’ from under the noses of the Imperial garrison.

Kabe already has a Hasbro action figure and a story by A.C. Crispin in the 1995 Tales From Mos Eisley Cantina anthology, yet remains an enigmatic background character in the first Star Wars film. What’s even better here is that writer Shane McCarthy gives her an eight-page adventure without dispelling that air of mystery one iota.

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Much like Artoo’s colour-coded bleeps and whistles in Alessandro Ferrari’s graphic novel adaptations, Kabe’s language is showcased by having her speech bubbles populated by a lone symbol (effectively an emoji). It’s a simple and indelibly sweet touch that embodies both the character and the strip as a whole.

The soft lines and gently exaggerated characterisation of Nicoletta Baldari’s art also echoes the Ferrari volumes, bordering on 101 Dalmatians-era Disney in its style. This lends itself to being more fluid than the first entry in the issue, and Kabe’s kinetic energy is captured with seemingly less effort, although once again the narrative itself is fairly slight.

All in all, Star Wars Adventures #21 is another strong entry for IDW, showing they’re most at home in the more established parts of the Star Wars timeline.

Star Wars Adventures #21 is available in digital and hard-copy editions, from IDW Publishing and your preferred comic outlets.

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