A new year, a new decade and IDW Publishing’s Star Wars Adventures breaks into the post-Skywalker-Saga era with its 30th issue. Although for now, the writers and artists are sketching in events occurring before Episode IX.
In fact, that most recent film is still very much in mind as we open with ‘Loyalty Test’, a 12-page jaunt starring Supreme Leader Kylo Ren and his ambitious deputy, General Armitage Hux. In the galaxy’s Expansion Region, intelligence has reached the First Order that the Resistance have established a hidden headquarters on Vendaxa. As Hux briefs a squadron of Stormtroopers to locate the base and begin a primary assault, Ren storms in and informs everyone that he will lead the operation instead.
Wanting to snag at least some of the glory for himself should things go well, Hux inveigles his way back into the party by claiming he’d like to learn by his leader’s side. Flattered but irritated in equal measure, Kylo agrees. Landing on the jungle surface no civilisation is evident, but the local fauna aren’t shy in investigating the arrival. They aren’t happy, either…
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Pencils and inks come from the ever-fantastic Arianna Florean, with Mario del Pennino as layout assistant. Disney-esque stylisation adds a dynamic feel to both the framing and pacing of the story, and the capture of movement is fantastic. The artwork is coloured by Valentina Taddeo, who uses earth-tones to maximum effect white retaining a vibrancy which matches the urgency of our anti-heroes’ situation.
Things are a little more tricky when it comes to the writing itself. Michael Moreci’s penmanship is strong on a character-level, with the untrustworthy bickering between the main pair reflecting their movie personas perfectly. The dialogue however is oddly out-of-character. This could be because their interactions in the films are always more brief, or that the language has been de-formalised for younger readers and the space-restrictions of Jake M. Wood’s deft lettering.
Either way, these do not feel like lines that would come from the mouths of Adam Driver and Domhnall Gleeson. Younger readers may not mind (or even notice) this. For everyone else, it may seem a little too close to fan-fiction.
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Following swiftly on, the ‘Tales From Wild Space’ segment returns from its three-issue hiatus with the first part of ‘The Lost Stories’. We join Emil Graf as he races through city streets back to The Star Herald, pursued on-foot by First Order Stormtroopers. After some quick slapstick, the ship escapes and Emil comms his Great Aunt Lina, where the two discuss his discovery of the legendary Lost Library Of Nelgenham…
Cavan Scott is on writing duties, and it’s great to see Emil and the crew being the focus of an eight-page story rather than being used as a framing device. Art comes from David M. Buisan with Charlie Kirchoff colouring the panels. While there’s more focus on technical detail than ‘Loyalty Test’, the action still moves briskly and each locale has its own distinct visual signature.
So it’s a shame that the story isn’t more engaging. The sheer volume of text alone gets in the way of narrative flow. A lot of information is thrown at the reader and the strip begins to feel like a smuggled-in Wookieepedia entry as a result. If all of this serves as a setup for future chapters at a more relaxed pace then so be it, but it’s faintly ironic that an adventure with a storytelling family is frenetic almost to the point of incoherence.
Far from one of the series’ strongest issues, there’s plenty to look at here but little to remember. We’ll wait and see what next month brings…
Star Wars Adventures #30 is out now from IDW Publishing and your preferred comic retailer.