A Star Wars Comic: The Stories So Far…

ascwsnapshotFor any of you who don’t know, A Star Wars Comic is, as stated on their website, “a fan-made monthly anthology series exploring the small moments, characters, and themes of a galaxy far, far away. Each comic is six-pages and they release on the 25th of every month.” Okay, so what’s that mean? Well, it means that every month, you, yes you, can read a 100% free, 100% compelling, and 100% original, 6-page Star Wars comic. The two gentlemen behind the project, Jim & Alex, started by telling unknown tales of known characters, but this month made the leap into completely original content – frankly, it’s a breath of fresh air for this Star Wars fan that’s been drowning (in a good way, for the most part) in stories about characters I’ve known for, well, forever. But Star Wars is a gigantic, nearly infinite universe, with more than infinite stories, so I invite you to go check out A Star Wars Comic for yourself, and then come back and see if you agree with my take on their first six issues…

A STAR WARS COMIC #1 – TWO TUBES

Until today, this was my favorite A Star Wars Comic story (I can’t help but love the completely original story they told in #6) – it’s so deep, depressing, and real. There are likely instances like this occurring all over the galaxy, but, I’d wager, more often the scenario is reversed and it’s a member of whatever rebellion that allows an Imperial to live instead of involving an existential moment for a would-be spiritual Imperial Commander. I really like some of the small details in this comic, like the way the scene pans out when the Commander is talking about the pull of the Force on Jedha, and how you can see Two Tubes’ face in the Commander’s blaster sights. I like the idea that the Commander thought he’d really changed something by letting Two Tubes go – like his moment of forgiveness would be payed forward. But, really, I think we all know that Saw was going to keep coming, even if Two Tubes had a change of heart. In fact, if Two Tubes had gone back with his story and tried to get Saw to lighten up, Saw probably would have just had someone kill him and they’d move on. And, regardless, all of them meet their inevitable end on Jedha unless they’re lucky enough to be transported off-world before the Death Star was given its first live test…it’s depressing, I know, but, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished…

A STAR WARS COMIC #2 – THE LADY FROM CHANDRILA

I like how this issue really hearkens back to the political intrigue of the prequels and the Clone Wars series. I also enjoy the reach into Legends to pull out Mr. Garm Bel Iblis, and that it shows my main man, Mas Amedda (full disclosure, I don’t really like Amedda’s character, I just love his species, I love it so much). I also really like the rock and a hard place Mon Mothma puts herself between when challenging the Emperor while still “playing the game” – it’s a poignant reminder of what several political idealists have had to deal with during their own, real life rebellious struggles. I’m fond too of how The Chandrilan Book of Governance acts as Mothma’s inner monologue, letting us know not only how she approaches these political situations, but why she tackles them the way she does. And then, when she’s eked out some semblance of a plan that suits her, she doesn’t go out to celebrate or even home to relax, she goes to the lower levels of Coruscant to volunteer at a soup kitchen – Mon Mothma’s work is never done, and it’s never done for what I believe some politicians feel is a sense of pride; she doesn’t pat herself on the back, she rolls up her sleeves and looks for the next opportunity to help. It’s a fitting portrayal of one of, if not the greatest hero of the Rebellion… (Also, side note, I love the alien inclusion at the soup kitchen, and I absolutely adore the image of the little Gran with his mouth open being fed by the older Gran.)

A STAR WARS COMIC # 3 – MAD ABOUT ME

This one spoke to me on a rather personal level – not because I’m secretly a Bith, but because I was in a punk band when I was in high school and for a little while in college. I absolutely loved it. I loved playing in front of people, having them gather around or swing their fists about wildly in the mosh pit, but I also know the feeling of literally no one caring if you’re there or not. We played a lot of shows as the opening act, sometimes to nearly empty rooms because lineup would be 4-5 bands deeps and not many people were interested in the “local bands,” they just wanted to hear the headliners. But, really, what it came down to, and what it ultimately comes down to for Figrin D’an, I believe, as well, is that I was playing music for the love of playing music. You see that embodied when D’an gets his instrument back out at the end and starts playing for free, just for the sake of playing, and, further, for playing the music he wants to play, the music he’s been listening to after each performance in each cleverly-named cantina. I think allowing the images to tell the story really works wonders in this issue – it honestly conveys the story more powerfully without them. And even if I’m completely off from what they intended, so what? I still got a great story out of it, and I think that’s really the end game no matter what… (Another aside, I loved seeing Greedo still smoking in the background of the next-to-last page, really nice touch.)

A STAR WARS COMIC #4 – HOLLOW SHELLS

This issue has two great things:  droids & bounty hunters. Additionally, it has these two great things all bound up together in IG-88 himself. The issue also has a fairly deep backdrop of questioning what it means to be a “person” – in theory, droids are tools created by people (or beings) that can’t really be “people” themselves, right? Well, not so much in the Star Wars galaxy. Throughout Star Wars, droids are given very distinct personalities and the ability to act outside of programming, to basically be sentient, but are still treated like tools. This prejudice is introduced in the comic in reverse at the very beginning when we find out that IG-88 prefers organic bounties. He’d rather not have to kill his own kind. But when he finds out the details of the bounty, he does accept it – now, is that because the target is an astromech and therefore less “person-like” and easier, even for IG-88, to see as just a machine? As it turns out, I think not, but it’s an interesting question nonetheless…I really like thinking about the droid colony as akin to the Island of Misfit Toys – a place where droids that have broken free from their bonds and no longer fit into the society they were basically made to serve can go and live out their lives in their own way. I think it’s great too that IG-88 gives his target a chance to explain himself rather than just blindly following his directive. It gives him an ever greater sense of having an individual personality – he’s not just a killbot that works for himself, he’s an independent thinker. Then, in the end, we see that, through his conversation with his previous target, he came around to a better bounty that led him to destroy his original contractors (I also love the short bit between IG-88 and the rogue Imperials’ droid where IG removes his restraining bolt) and deliver his great speech about “hollow shells.” It’s fantastically drawn and written, and really gives the reader a lot to think about in six pages…

A STAR WARS COMIC #5 – ON THE SURFACE

This issue really takes a look at the non-evil side of the Empire. The side where the uniformed individuals are just trying to do their part to ensure a peaceful, prosperous future for the galaxy. So often I think it’s taken for granted that everyone who suits up for the Imperials, be it as a Stormtrooper or some kind of officer, is an evil, vindictive person that wants to watch from on high as worlds burn and the galaxy bends to the iron will of the Emperor…but that’s not the case – it couldn’t possibly be, and we’re getting more and more stories that show that it’s not, from Lost Stars to Twilight Company, and even, to some extent, Finn for The Force Awakens (yeah, I know he was First Order and not Imperial, but, c’mon, same difference). And it’s an idea that’s taken shape twice now in A Star Wars Comic:  throughout the entire story here in issue #5, and back in issue #1 as well. So, don’t be fooled by the tyrannical nature of the Empire, not all of its military personnel are insidious, uncaring people – some of them are just misguided pawns that only want to see the galaxy become a better place…and have turned a blind eye to the atrocities the Empire is utilizing to get there… (You see how I turned it around at the end? You thought I was an Imperial sympathizer for a while…)

A STAR WARS COMIC # 6 – WILD SPACE

So, I love this comic. I love the fresh characters, I love the tight story (however outlandish it may be), and I love the duo’s freighter. Put that all together and you’ve got a great little slice of the much bigger galaxy of untapped Star Wars storytelling that exists out there in Wild Space (see what I did there?)…I think the short character introductions give you just enough to go on that you’re able to fill in the pair’s relationship and personalities through their dialogue without being given long, ultimately unnecessary exposition. To say it another way:  I like that these new characters tell us who they are more than we’re told who they are. I like that the two characters are so different from each other, but they each have their own strength and they’re able to play off that strength to make the pair successful – it’s basically how to have a good relationship 101:  you don’t have to be the same or agree on everything, but you have to be able to work together and lean on each other and lift each other up. All the shippers out there should honestly just put aside all their other would-be yaoi ships and focus on these two…especially when you look at the last panel where they’re looking ahead, they look at each other, and then look ahead again as they take the unknown jump into hyperspace…so cute…anyway, I know A Star Wars Comic is built as an anthology series and we’re not likely to see these two again this year, but I certainly hope this isn’t the only story of theirs that’s ever told…

And that’s that, ladies and gentlemen! Somehow, half of 2017 is almost in the books, and half of the tales from A Star Wars Comic are out as proverbial books…wow…that was a stretch, even for me…anyway, I hope I’ve turned some people that weren’t aware of A Star Wars Comic on to the great content they have out, and that you’ll keep coming back to their site every month to see what the new story will be. And I also hope you’ve enjoyed what I have to say about the stories so far, and might even be so inspired that you’ll drop a comment and let me know which A Star Wars Comic is your favorite or why everything I said about them is wrong and dumb or, you know, whatever…the bottom line is this, though:  do yourself a favor and enjoy A Star Wars Comic, and, while you’re enjoying it, may the Force be with you…

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