The latest issue of IDW Publishing‘s Star Wars Adventures: Tales of Villainy opens with the first part of a story set within the sequel trilogy time period, as Rey, Finn and Chewbacca transport a smuggler through First Order patrolled space on the Millenium Falcon.
‘Repair Stop’, written by George Mann, sees the Togruta people-smuggler, Moebin, working alongside the Falcon crew, who have agreed to take him to the planet Prahvin in exchange for information that will allow the Resistance to use secure routes through First Order territory. Unfortunately, the Falcon isn’t in the best condition, and mid-flight the ship’s static charge dissipator breaks, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing on Choss, where they hope to be able to find some replacement parts. Unfortunately, a bounty hunter has been following them, and the quick pit stop soon turns into a fight to get away.
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Whilst this is the first part of the story, despite the title page not having the normal ‘part one’ attached to the name, it proves to be a pretty entertaining short story; one that I should have expected to be a first part thanks to how differently it’s paced from other one-off tales. We get to spend some time with the characters before things go wrong, getting to know Moebin and understanding the stakes before things really kick off; which is a nice change for these short stories.
It’s after landing on Choss that the story really opens up, as the artist, Charlie Kirchoff, really seems to be having some fun, filling the alien market with all kinds of background gags and familiar species. There’s also a great two page spread where Moebin and Rey dash through the market that really shows off the creativity and talent of Kirchoff. Overall, it’s a fun first part, and one where I’m interested to see what happens next because it ends in a way where you’re not quite sure how its going to be resolved, and I’m interested to find out how.
The second story of the issue, ‘The Last Chapter’ by Danny Lore, is a completely standalone story, and possibly one of the best we’ve had in the series. The tale begins on ‘a planet rarely thought about and barely named’, and sees an Imperial shuttle landing in the middle of a marketplace. When the ramp descends and Vader leads a group of stormtroopers out things erupt into chaos as they begin ransacking the place, taking prisoners, and destroying things.
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Watching this chaos is a young human woman, one who quickly flees to an old Jedi temple where two of her colleagues are cataloguing artefacts. It turns out that she’s one of the people who protect and preserve the contents of the temple, and as such knows that this is Vader’s ultimate destination. Now she has to try to find a way of saving what she can before the Sith Lord comes to destroy it all.
I absolutely loved this story. It featured one of the most iconic characters in Star Wars canon, but it wasn’t focused on them, instead being about these nameless people who we’ve never seen before. Vader was less a character, and more of a force of nature, this looming threat moving ever closer. But then we didn’t really get to know anyone else either, as no one got to have a name, and not a single line of dialogue got spoken. Instead, we get these small snippets of context via the narration that allows the reader to know what’s going on.
This might seem like an odd choice, but it works really well. The people here don’t matter. This world doesn’t matter. It’s not a story about the caretakers of this temple, or even of Vader. It’s a story about what the Empire is, about the campaign of destruction the Emperor has been waging against the Jedi where even the preservation of their artefacts must be treated with total destruction. I don’t think the people or the place matter because this more of an insight into what the Empire does on countless worlds, and as such that story can’t be told on a personal level.
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The art for the story is provided by Simone D’Armini, and their style is wonderful. There’s a lot of attention to detail in every panel of the book, and the planet feels incredibly lived in because of this. The marketplace is filled with people and things, junk that’s recognisable, creatures that are familiar; it feels like a working place and not just empty shops and stalls. There’s not a single blank background either, and every panel feels like its filled to the brim, even if it’s just moss and lichen covering the walls behind the characters. It’s a level of care that can sometimes feel lacking in these quick, one-off stories that, along with the great script, make this a superb short story.
Thanks to the wonderful one-off Vader story, and the interesting potential for what could happen next in the first story, this is a pretty damn good issue of Star Wars Adventures: Tales of Villainy, and a great way to start Star Wars comics in 2022.
Star Wars Adventures: Tales of Villainy #13 is out now from IDW Publishing.