Having shrewdly chosen an Original Trilogy setting for both stories in Star Wars Adventures #21, IDW Publishing decides to hang around and enjoy the scenery for June’s foray into the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
The issue’s main 12-page story is ‘A Matter Of Perception’, taking place on the planet Nothoiin in the Anoat sector. Leia Organa (sporting her Endor military garb) is investigating sightings of Stormtroopers, suggesting an Imperial presence. Visual and technical scans report nothing, but when food rations begin to go missing aboard the Millennium Falcon, Leia, Threepio and Artoo end up chasing a diminutive blue-skinned native into the surrounding jungle, making a startling discovery in the process.
Series favourite Elsa Charretier provides the artwork for this outing, co-writing the story with Pierrick Colinet. Line and colour-work is firm and stylised, with unmistakable character likenesses and fantastic framing. The story itself evokes the era of Marvel Comics’ vintage run where heroes would be exploring all manner of exotic worlds between movies, and the eventual twist in the tale is workable within that context.
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The dialogue, Leia’s especially, is a little more uneven however; not necessarily too clunky for Star Wars, but it feels out of cadence for everyone’s favourite princess and general. Ultimately though this is a parable about doing the right thing, which is very on-brand for Star Wars and the younger core demographic of Star Wars Adventures should get a kick out of it.
Our regular follow-up trip to Wild Space joins Emil Graf’s crew aboard the Star Herald bickering with one another (pretty much the droids’ default setting, by all accounts), while the young pilot and story collector diffuses the tension with ‘A Tauntaun Tail’, set shortly before the Battle Of Hoth.
The young Sgt Maxim of the beleaguered Rebellion is scouting the snow plains for fauna which might make reliable transport when he comes across one local with a longer-than-usual tail. Ostracised by others in its pack, Maxim rescues the creature following a standoff, then trains and befriends her (naming her Reebak), ultimately using the Tauntaun’s unique feature to maximum effect when the Empire arrive.
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Tony Fleecs’ striking and expressive artwork (featuring colour flatting from Lauren Perry) is the standout here, with the snow planet of Hoth and its inhabitants rendered with far more hues and character than we see in The Empire Strikes Back and looking even better for it.
As usual, the eight-page format of the second segment seems to act as a limit to the story being told, rather than a challenge. Had this been published in December’s issue and the Tauntaun also given a red nose, the inherent tweeness would perhaps have been more forgiveable. There’s the feeling that an alternative story taking place between Tauntauns and Wampas – with no human involvement or dialogue – would push visual storytelling to the forefront, making ‘A Tauntaun’s Tail’ more thematically interesting as a result. Alas, neither was to be.
Star Wars Adventures #22 looks fantastic but feels empty. That’s understandable for the occasional issue of an anthology title, but the series’ general reluctance to flesh out moments from the saga movies is holding it back, keeping it instead in its own impenetrable corner of the GFFA.
The cover-splash for next month’s comic features Chewie and Lando. We await with bated fingertips…
Star Wars Adventures #22 is available from IDW Publishing and your preferred comic outlets.