Star Wars Adventures: Tales of Villainy #1 presents readers with two stories: one that’s a short one-off that fits neatly into the events of The Empire Strikes Back, and another set before the events of The Rise of Skywalker that is yet to be concluded.
The first story in this issue, ‘The Obstacle Course’, written by Michael Moreci, with art by Ilias Kyriazis, is set some time before the events of the final film in the Skywalker Saga, and focuses on the training of Rey. As we see in the early moments of the film, Rey is honing her Jedi skills using obstacle courses, training both her abilities with the Force, and her physical endurance for any upcoming battles with The First Order. To help her with this Poe and Finn have brought Rey to a deserted and barren planet, where they’ve set up a new course for her to run. Unfortunately, it turns out the planet is home to a band of criminals, who don’t like unexpected visitors dropping in on them.
READ MORE: Blade Runner 2019 #11 – Comic Review
This issue very much feels like the set-up stages of this story, and not a huge amount really happens here. As such, it’s hard to judge the story too well yet, though there are a few small things that just didn’t feel right reading this. The story opens with Poe and Finn talking about this planet like they’ve just discovered it, describing it as barren and dangerous before admitting it’s perfect for their needs – but they’ve already been there to set up Rey’s course. It felt like very unnecessary and janky dialogue to set things up for the audience that doesn’t make much sense within the story itself.
Despite the slightly stilted writing, there are a few things to enjoy. The colours on the planet look great, and there’s a great contrast between the blues of the actual planet itself and the oranges and red of the sky. These colours help the characters to stand out a bit, as their costumes are pretty drab and dull, so the book really benefits from the added bold colours. There’s also some great designs for the pirate characters that inhabit the planet, though I was slightly disappointed to learn that one of them was not actually Embo from The Clone Wars, despite looking just like him.
READ MORE: Sonic the Hedgehog #33 – Comic Review
The back-up story is definitely where this issue shines, however, and works much better, possibly in part because it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger and is fully contained in this one comic. With writing and art both being supplied by Nick Brokenshire, ‘Invasion of Echo Base’ takes place during the battle on Hoth during the events of The Empire Strikes Back, and follows Darth Vader as he leads his troops into the rebel stronghold.
Not only is the art in this story top notch, going for a more realistic approach over the cartoonish feel of the first story, it also has some very cool character moments that adds more depth to Vader. Not only does he get to lead the charge into the base, using his force powers to break down doors and dispatch rebel soldiers, but we get to see that Luke is his goal the whole time. There’s even a moment where he enters the medical bay that Luke was using to recover from the Wampa attack, and Vader senses his injuries, providing a moment of connection between the two of them as it leads Vader to reflect on his own wounds.
One of the best parts of the story, however, is the use of one of the deleted scenes from the movie, where in their chase of C3PO, one of the Snowtroopers opens a door and is immediately attacked by a Wampa, being dragged away before the door closes and leaves his colleagues standing there in shock. It’s a moment of silliness in an otherwise serious story, and a great nod to the cut scene that fans will enjoy.
Overall the second story is definitely the best part of this issue, though I’m intrigued to find out what happens next to Rey, Poe, and Finn in the next part of their story in the following issue.
Star Wars Adventures: Tales of Villainy #1 is out now from IDW Publishing.