Yeesh! Four comics this week…four! I’m not sure from memory, but I think this might be the most comics ever in one week – it’s certainly tied, there’s no way there’s ever been five at one time…anyway, not only were there Star Wars comics in quantity this week, they backed it up with quality! That’s right, folks, I enjoyed all of these books, even (maybe especially?) the continuation of the chrome commander herself, Captain Phasma. So, since there’s a lot to get through, let’s just get started, shall we?
Star Wars Adventures #2
Alright, I’ll admit it: I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but there was a certain kind of magic with the first issue that this one just didn’t capture…maybe the introductory issue was lightning in a bottle…oh well, it’s still a great book, so let’s discuss! We drop in on Rey leveling with the audience that she doesn’t like Unkar, but that she’s going to save him because no one deserves to be fed to ripper raptors. I think, though, the title of the story says it all: “Better the Devil You Know.” Rey knows how to win with Unkar’s, why would she want to learn a whole new game? Her plan is a simple, but effective-ish one: place the comlinks she’d scavenged around the baddies’ ship and then “skwaak” into one, making it seem as if the bird noise is coming from around their ship. A solid distraction. She uses it wisely to get the drop on the boss man’s thugs, takes them out, and is about to release Unkar when “KRAKLE!” Rey’s shocked from behind with some kind of cattle prod by the head honcho. Now they’re both captured. Not good. But Rey has an ace up her sleeve: the droid head the baddies are looking for. She tries to bargain, it goes poorly, so she tosses the head in the air. While everyone’s distracted looking at it, she releases Unkar, who tosses her away and catches the head. Rey is aghast because she’s now being held hostage and Unkar seems to not care, but then he notices some of her ration portions have scattered on the ground. He picks one up, “corn clusters,” and then rips it open, scattering the contents about the area around the baddies. At this, the raptors dive bomb the thugs and Unkar, grabbing Rey’s arm in the way we know from The Force Awakens that she doesn’t like, takes off. To keep from being pursued, Rey takes the droid head from Unkar and baseball bats it back to the baddies with her staff. Seeing as that’s the only thing they really wanted, they bail, leaving Unkar and Rey safe and sound (oh hey, and what do you know, their ship is a spitting image for the Ebon Hawk…neat). Anyway, Unkar is, of course, angry because he wanted the head for whatever reason the baddies wanted it, but it turns out that Rey checked the head before coming after him and it was “damaged beyond repair. Wiped clean.” So nothing was lost in the venture. Huzzah! Rey drops Unkar off at Niima where he leaves without saying “thank you” (something that Rey knew he wouldn’t do) to go reclaim his place. The next day, however, Rey wakes up to find a box of portions and a holocube with a message from Unkar himself. This is his way of saying “thank you,” which Rey determines to be enough. The end. But wait, there’s more! We catch back up with the “Tales from Wild Space” gang (that reminded me a lot of the Valérian and Laureline comics for some reason this week) to learn the lesson that sometimes little things can be both the cause of, and solution to, big problems. My “big problem” with this story, though, is I can’t really place it – does it happen before the Princess Leia comic? Somehow, magically, at the same time? Off-page during it? After it? None of those options really make much sense, honestly, the fact that the Rebellion didn’t immediately leave Yavin, seeing as the Empire knew where they were, has always been kind of a head-scratcher for me, but why make it even more strange by compounding the unlikely situation of their lingering around by adding more things that happened while they’re there? I guess you could say that the events of this story (Evaan taking a strike team to board and commandeer a Star Destroyer before it opens its volley on the base only to end up having to pilot a ship into it – ejecting in an escape pod before impact, of course – to change its trajectory by a hair so that it destroys a mountain instead of the site of their base) buy the Rebellion more time at the base, but I don’t know, seems fishy…could be *gasp* a legend…anyway, so endeth the issue. It was good, but not great. I think issue #1 got my hopes up a little too high…
Captain Phasma #2
Okay, so, if I were to skip the awkward, convoluted, but beautiful first issue of this comic, read the crawl for issue #2, and start the story as if this were its beginning, I would like this series – I would like it a lot. This issue is SO much better than issue #1. It’s practically a night and day difference in how I feel about this series. The issue begins with Phasma attempting to blow her adversary out of the sky, only to learn that such a feat is ultimately impossible because the BB unit (that’s still aboard by strange, random chance) didn’t finish its duty with the weapon systems before Phasma & “Pilot” took off. An irritation that earns the BB unit a swift kick from Phasma. Continuing their pursuit, they find their target gone to ground on the planet Luprora. They find his TIE easily enough, but he’s nowhere to be found. Also, the BB can’t handle the terrain, so “Pilot” has to carry him a la Chewie carrying the busted up 3PO around in Empire Strikes Back. They track their prey to an area where there was a skirmish, the results of which Phasma is unsure, though, nearby is a dwelling of some sort, so they go check it out. There’s nothing there, but there’s also a town nearby, so they determine that’s the next logical place to look; however, Phasma decides showing up in full First Order regalia isn’t a good idea, so they steal common clothes from the dwelling and, oh, guess what, Phasma still wears a mask. Luckily, whoever was living there just happened to have a bounty hunter-looking mask. Convenient. I’m starting to doubt if Phasma is even human…I thought the cat was out of the bag after the Vanity Fair photo shoot that clearly depicts and unmasked Phasma, but perhaps said cat has been surreptitiously stuffed back into the bag…time will tell…anyway, turns out “Pilot” (I keep doing that because they decide to refer to themselves as “Captain” & “Pilot”) is also female. Cool. Now begins the ho-hum trudge toward the villag–wait, what!?!?! RELEASE THE KRAKEN! In what I consider an awesome turn of events because I love creatures (especially violent, deadly ones) in Star Wars, a huge, tentacled (what’s with Star Wars creatures and tentacles lately?) sea creature bursts forth to put a swift end to our fair ladies…but, not so fast, sea beast, you picked the wrong Captain – Phasma, after “Pilot’s” desperate attempt to do much fails, takes the beast out with a few precise knife strikes. Pretty badass. When she and “Pilot” come ashore, they’re greeted by some very impressed locals (that speak a language that’s somewhat familiar to Phasma). They get an audience with the leader where it turns out that the main difference between Basic and Lupre’en is adding apostrophes in somewhat random places to change words. I assume it means they break up words differently than we do, but I’m not sure…it’s certainly interesting that Phasma knows the language, and seems comfortable enough with the folk to give them her actual name instead of going by “Captain” as planned. The leader tells his peoples’ tale, and the pair find out that Rivas was taken by some different, seemingly sentient nasty things and that he’s probably dead. Of course, “probably” isn’t enough for Phasma, so they’re lead to the stronghold of these nasties…that just so happens to be surrounded by more sea beasts and is altogether quite uninviting…I’m really excited to see where this story goes next…
Star Wars Annual #3
I’m fairly disappointed that the annual this year centers on two main characters instead of a brand new character like the last two have, but it’s still a pretty interesting little story (and, no, they’re not on Hoth – at first that’s what I assumed and was wondering why they picked the annual to push the timeline forward so far). Anyway, for this annual, we start out with Han & Leia running from some sort of rathtar-like cave spider (with no tentacles). Han’s trying to shoot it, but to no avail, when Leia tells him to shoot the ceiling. When he does this, rocks fall and mostly block the exit they just came through while crushing the poor beast. The two argue, as they so often do, and we discover that perhaps this isn’t the best place for a rebel base. We also discover that a goblin-looking dude, a droid, and a mysterious guy in a cowl and cloak are about to snipe Han. Unfortunately (I mean, duh, of course he misses), the weather wouldn’t cooperate and the goblin misses. Han & Leia duck behind cover, argue some more, and then find out the group, whomever they are, are after Han. Han, ever the sacrificial hero, tells Leia to get the Falcon and he dashes back into the nearly-blocked cave they recently exited. Then there’s a page where it seems they might shoot at Leia, but shoot the Falcon instead…and there’s an odd, small panel of Leia looking like she’s having an allergic reaction to a bee sting on her face…I’m not sure why this page exists…anyway, Han injures his guts (in about the same spot Chewie injures Kylo Ren many, many years in the future) getting into the cave, and we get the backstory on the Kajain’sa’Nikto, Frax, that’s after him. Back in the day, under heavy fire from Imperials, Han & Chewie bailed on a deal they had with Frax and literally ditched him to be taken prisoner and toil in the very place he used to work. One fateful day, he’s about to be killed by a fellow worker when the Rebellion shows up and “liberates” the planet; however, the Rebellion didn’t know there were non-Imperial workers so most of them ended up as collateral damage – except Frax. He survives with one rock of whatever was precious on the planet and is found by a downed rebel pilot. The pilot says he can wait with him for pickup, but, instead, Frax shoots him, takes off on a boat, and then we see him make his deal with the goblin and his robot buddy, using the precious rock as his payment for their help. Back at present, we see Leia looking about the Falcon trying to find anything she can use to help save Han. Eventually satisfied, we see her walk out triumphantly with a bag full of who knows what, and Chewie’s bowcaster. Then she’s off into the caves. Han and the three goons are playing cat and mouse while Leia finds an old mining cart full of cave spider babies. She gives them a shove, and then goes about setting her traps. When Han and his pursuers come near, she tosses a Molotov at the droid, who catches fire. But, I mean, he’s a droid, so he doesn’t really care and keeps coming. That’s when she tells Han to shoot the ceiling again, except this time there’s a gas can up there and it rains down on the poor saps below and Frax catches fire as well. Frax tosses off his burning upper-body clothes and the goblin tries to end Han & Leia, but she still has two tricks up her sleeve: she overturns the baby cave spider cart toward the baddies, and then once more shoots the ceiling to bring down the cave. At this point, there’s a blizzard outside and Han & Leia have a talk about her going and Han not being able to make it and you go on and blah, blah, blah…turns out, though, they’re not out of the woods with Frax yet: his partners decide to bail on him because his deal isn’t worth the trouble. For their trouble, and for breaking their deal, he shoots them in the back as they leave. As Han & Leia are about to make a run for the ship, Frax shows up in the bitter cold outside with no upper layer on, all crazy-eyed and psychotic. With some interesting quick thinking, Leia uses the bowcaster to collapse both entrances to the caves, stranding them all in the cold, then she makes a run for the Falcon. She gets right to the edge of the boarding ramp when she takes a grazing shot to the opposite side where Han’s injury is and almost passes out…when Chewie shows up with some fellow rebels just in time. So, now Frax is an ice sculpture of pain, anger, and remorse, and Han & Leia are continuing to fall in love…aww…
Poe Dameron #19
Ugh, every time I see Phasma-not-Phasma I want to punch her in her ugly face. She sickens me. Anyway, Black Squadron is in quite the pickle: Poe & Snap are captured aboard a First Order cruiser, and Jess & Kare have been apprehended where they were doing their recon. Not good. And it appears Terex is still, unfortunately, a drone…or is he? But, first, back on Spalex with the ladies, we find out that Suralinda had a plan all along and she isn’t just a wishy-washy, bandwagon kind of character, yay Suralinda! (I really love her character, so I’m glad they didn’t destroy her.) We also get more on Jess’s backstory when we see her family cuffed and in the hands of what I’m guessing is an orc slave trader (I’m seeing goblins and now orcs in Star Wars…I’ve got D&D on the brain). Pretty heavy stuff. Moving on, before Suralinda can prepare whatever she has planned, we go back to the ship where Terex has arrived where Oddy is being held to terminate him. Except, wait, what’s this? He’s not going to do it?!?! He’s using his superior brain power and independent streak to overcome his “programming?” That a boy, Terex! He manages, while under serious duress, to release Oddy and show him that Poe & Snap are on board. Back with the ladies, Suralinda has released the two pilots as a distraction while she does a little creative work with her camera drones. She’s almost foiled by a somewhat capable trooper, but he’s too late: the drones come in and kill everyone. God damn, Suralinda, savage. But the trouble isn’t over because now the cruiser that was on its way to pick them up has arrived…then, in a pretty humorous couple of panels, Poe is trying to “think of something” to get them out of their cell when the door just opens…and Poe says, “See?” And Snap replies, “You did not do that, Poe.” Knee-slapper. (Okay, that reads as sarcasm, but I really did think it was funny.) There’s also a convenient comm message that displaces the guards near them so they can escape free and clear (and similar jokes ensue). Back on the ground, the ladies are running from a pair of TIEs and Phasma-not-Phasma & Terex in a shuttle. They’re trying to get to their fighters, but they get slagged before they can make it. But then, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane…no! It’s two X-wings and they’re tearing up the opposition. Soon, though, they’re well outnumbered. It looks like it could be curtains for these two brave pilots (except, you know, they’re both in The Force Awakens)…but what’s this?!?! One of the TIEs starts taking out its own ships!?!? It’s Oddy! He’s turning the tide, he’s a real pilot, just like he always wanted! He tells the guys he never meant for any of this to happen, but he did what he did for love. They say they know because they’ve spoken to his wife. He replies, “Okay. So you know. That’s good. When this is all over, find her. Tell her…tell her I died a pilot. I loved you guys.” And, with that, Oddy Muva sacrifices himself to kamikaze the cruiser, destroying it. I was very moved by this. The Poe comic has managed to pack the most emotional punch out of any other Star Wars series so far, and I appreciate it. Seeing her ship go down, Phasma-not-Phasma is furious, and Terex grins uncontrollably as they escape to hyperspace. On the ground, there’s a reunion of Black Squadron and Suralinda and we find out that the journalist is going to use the moving story of Oddy Muva as the propaganda they came here in hopes of finding. So, all is not lost for the Resistance, and Oddy’s sacrifice will most certainly not have been in vain. In fact, knowing that the Resistance used the heroic tale of an abednedo makes it easier to wrap my head around why so many of them seemed to be involved in the Resistance vs. other alien species. Well-played, Star Wars, well-played.
Woof! That was a lot…so, what did you think? Which issue was your favorite of this heavily-stacked week? I would have to go with a tie between Phasma and Poe, though, oddly enough, I think I give the edge to Phasma. I thought it was a really compelling story and I’m really looking forward to where it goes from here. I think it’s especially impressive considering how little I enjoyed the first book. Just goes to show how quickly things can change with comics…normally I would ask a bunch of questions here, but I’m plum tuckered out from writing about all four of those issues, so I’m just going to let you lot decide what, if anything (usually nothing) you’d like to add…so, give the books a thorough second read and let me know what you think in the comments…or, you know, I’ll do something mean or scary that has to do with something from one of the comics…you know the drill…TWS out.