Star Wars Adventures Annual 2019 – Review

Celebrating another year in the packed publishing industry, IDW bring us the second Star Wars Adventures Annual. This jumbo-sized issue is fronted with the glorious artwork of Stan Sakai, perfectly capturing the hectic essence of the comic’s main feature.

‘Hare-Brained Heist’ follows Lando Calrissian aboard the Millennium Falcon, some short time after the Battle of Endor. When he and Nien Nunb receive a distress signal from the shipyard planet Rekkana, their investigation becomes a daring jaunt to The Palpatine Archive above Coruscant. Recovering a stolen artifact will hopefully inspire the Rekk people to rise up and overthrow their Imperial overlords, although the plan will take skill, nerve and maybe a little bit of smartmouthing, too. Luckily, Lando has help.

Yes, Jaxxon is back! The wisecracking, green, six foot, rabbit-like Lepi smuggler was a creation from the early Marvel days of Star Wars back in 1977. Over the years of the expanding universe, he was quickly consigned to punchline-territory, a reminder of the unchecked excesses of the era as Star Wars found its feet outside cinemas. Although he was never quite forgotten, Jaxxon returned to the canon in last year’s Star Wars Adventures Annual.

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So in order to do this character justice, any story in which he features must be equally wry and fast-paced. That’s just what writer Cavan Scott delivers, with the striking artwork of Mauricet and bold colour-palette of Charlie Kirchoff. Mauricet’s sense of speed is quite an achievement considering his heavy outlines usually work against this.

Clocking in at 32 pages, the story is relatively linear but has plenty of room to breathe, not feeling the need to cram every panel full of expository dialogue. Star Wars Adventures has struggled recently with tales that aren’t suited to the title’s short page-counts, so this is a welcome addition to the bookshelf.

Next is the support-slot feature, ‘So Much More’. Written by series regulars Elsa Charretier and Pierrick Colinet, we open at the royal palace on Alderaan where a toddler-aged Princess Leia is excitedly running around the grounds, much to the consternation of her nanny-droid. Coming across her adoptive mother Queen Breha  reading by a statue of Queen Amidala, the young princess is told of this heroine’s adventures, her resolve and her achievements.

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While it usually feels like damning with faint praise to call a story ‘sweet’, that is the overall impression left by Margaux Saltel’s playful artwork of pastel colours and an almost watercolour style. It is sweet in the very best of ways. While Breha recounts Amidala’s life, we see key moments not only from the Prequel Trilogy but also The Clone Wars.

It’s noteworthy that ‘So Much More’ fits perfectly into its eight pages. Since this isn’t presented as part of the title’s regular ‘Tales From Wild Space’ segment, it also doesn’t have a framing device encroaching on its space. The message is allowed to stand on its own feet and the strip is better for that. Ultimately this is an inspirational piece and would have been ideal for IDW’s Forces Of Destiny series.

The only real downside to this issue is that both stories feel a little isolated, depicting the galaxy at large but not really interacting with events we’ve seen or read elsewhere. But it also shows that when the format is used properly, Star Wars Adventures can still be outstanding fun.

Star Wars Adventures Annual 2019 is available from IDW publishing and your preferred comic outlets. Don’t forget to come back after reading and give us your thoughts in the comments below or through our social media channels!

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