Star Wars Adventures #24 – Review

IDW’s Star Wars Adventures continues apace, the first instalment of issue #24 opening in the vacuum of space at the Mirrin sector as hotshot Resistance pilot Poe Dameron leads Rapier Squadron against marauding pirates. When his X-Wing is hauled aboard the brigands’ flagship, Poe and his trusty navigator BB-8 have to think on their feet to turn the situation around…

And so the greatest two challenges facing ‘Kidnapped!’ have both reared their heads before. It’s difficult to craft a layered, interesting story within twelve pages, and artists seem to really struggle in capturing consistent likenesses of Oscar Isaac. Poe becomes inadvertently abducted, BB-8 fakes being shorted out from an ion-blast, Poe keeps the pirates distracted with his infuriatingly flippant charm and the droid manages to sneak out a distress signal. That’s not enough for writer Ian Flynn to have things zipping over a dozen sheets, but there’s also no room to introduce unexpected turns.

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Artist Megan Levens has to keep things ticking over visually instead, with strong linework, great depth and framing, and a lead human character who sometimes looks like the actor famous for portraying him. ‘Kidnapped!’ is never awful but it’s also never better than average, and you have to wonder at what point someone decided this was a yarn worth spinning.

Following on, we’re back in wild space with Emil Graf aboard the Star Herald. A game of Dejarik with scrap droid CR-8R leads to a homily taking place in Maz Kanata’s fortress on Takodana in ‘Win/Lose’.

Maz is playing host to the Galactic Dejarik Association Tournament and the appearance of the reigning champion – a boastful Rodian named Bilk Plessey – results in the lady of the house teaching him a lesson in strategy and hubris…

Shaun Harris’ script is loose and expressive, with Manuel Bracchi’s art matching this beat for beat. But just as Matt Herms’ bold colour palette keeps things from getting too out of hand, so too does Maz’s quietly playful character. Considering Dejarik is the chess-like strategy game played by Chewie aboard the Millennium Falcon, this is a lively strip that delivers its clear message without condescension. ‘Win/Lose’ is certainly the better half of what’s on offer, even at a short six pages inside the wraparound.

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What’s also interesting is that the segment has come full circle, since ‘Tales From Wild Space’ was originally going to feature Maz Kanata as each story’s framing device until the reins were handed to Emil Graf in the development process.

So after a successful post-Jedi outing for this year’s Annual, the title returns to the sequel era. While the whole timeline is fair game for the anthology series (and rightly so), the section around The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi is one which has scored fewer hits in Star Wars Adventures to date. This could be because newer characters don’t yet have the benefit of a full trilogy to define their essence, or maybe they just haven’t had as long to become culturally embedded in the minds of artists, authors and readers. None of this is a reason to give the sequel-era less exposure of course, and IDW are to be commended for their perseverance.

Star Wars Adventures #24 is another mixed bag, proof that the key to a great comic lies as much in the writing as the artwork. In the meanwhile, we’ll just enjoy the variety that IDW have to offer…

Star Wars Adventures #24 is available from IDW Publishing and your preferred comic outlets.

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