A Star Wars Comic: The end of a great year…

tdl_hi-res_header-600x191In case you’ve been living under a rock, 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.” Without putting too fine a point on it, you need to go read them if you haven’t yet. Yes, now, go! I’ll wait…*looks at his watch*…okay, so, now that your mind is blown by this completely free, exceptional fan-made comic, you’re prepared to read what I have to say about it! However, as you’ll notice if you scroll down, this particular post starts with #7 – if you want to start at the beginning, check out this post about the stories so far that I wrote in June. Okay, I think that’s enough setup, let’s get down to the matter at hand and go over these terrific comics!

A STAR WARS COMIC #7 – NO EMOTION

ne01-01-402x600This is, without question in my opinion, the most ambitious issue of the year for the boys at A Star Wars Comic. It tackles a fairly in-depth story for the scant six pages the comic works with on a monthly basis. Now, this isn’t to say that’s a bad thing, in fact, I enjoy and appreciate the risk they took with this issue, but, for me anyway, it certainly took a little more time and study to get at the heart of the story as it made some leaps between panels that don’t necessarily flow the way their other comics do. Once I got my mind around the story, though, it’s something I like very much, and think is quite relatable considering the evolution the idea of being a Jedi is going through in the current canon. It peels the shiny veneer off what it feels like to be a Jedi at their prime, when they were supposed to be stalwart, perfect knights, showing us that it’s likely that Anakin (or, you know, Obi-wan) wasn’t the only member of the order to be tempted by feelings of love and/or desire. In my head canon, Master Fel-tor took a page out of Ahsoka’s book and walked away from the Jedi to team up with Nik and become a gender-swapped version of Kanan and Hera – perhaps they even started their own rebel cell on the other side of the galaxy after Order 66…

A STAR WARS COMIC #8 – THE HUNTER

01hunterfinal-01-402x600This issue is overwhelmingly clever, and, to be frank, is the kind of thing Marvel should be doing instead of convolutedly placing the original trilogy big three on several locales from the new movies (I’m sure there’s an issue where Han, Luke, and Leia take a vacation to Canto Bight coming any time now)…anyway, I love the idea that Boussh is a potentially up-and-coming bounty hunter with a bit of a Napoleon complex that speaks about himself in his head in the third person. I also love the idea that the gang was on Tatooine just kind of winging their plan to save Han – it rings true for how they mostly operate as a small unit (the Alliance makes plans, the big three just do things and figure it out as they go). So, the big question: do you think Boushh kills the weequay he tortures the information out of when he’s done, or just zaps him unconscious, assuming that’ll be enough to keep Fett at bay? I’m on team he kills him. I think Boussh was about to be the next big thing had he only picked a different bounty and, thus, not ended up having all his gear filched after being thwamped by a wookiee.

A STAR WARS COMIC #9 – THE DARK LORDS

01_tdl_final-01-402x600I think this is my favorite issue of this second half of the year. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: But, Bryan, I thought you were so into new characters, this is basically completely about old–some very old–characters?!?! Yes, that’s true, but I really like the way this story is told, how it evolves. It takes elements that we’ve seen in canon and expands them in interesting, new ways. And, let’s be honest, we all want more Darth Vader – that’s why he’s in Rogue One, Rebels, and several novels and comics. Even with all those appearances, it’s still exciting when he shows up, especially when he’s portrayed as well as he is in this instance. As a side note, I like how they did the inverse chat bubbles for the dark side users – it’s something they did in the Darth Maul series (and probably before that, but that’s when I noticed it) that I really thought was a nice touch. I also like the way Vader speaks in bold, block letters vs. the more common text of other characters. Small things like that really add a lot, even if you don’t consciously notice them. Speaking of noticing things, how about the veritable “who’s who” of Sith Lords lurking about in this issue, huh? I especially like the nod to Malgus and the sacking of Coruscant from the Old Republic MMO. Good stuff. And, I mean, how could I not mention the vision of the future? Having Kylo show up, from the back, mimicking his now-infamous stance in that The Force Awakens teaser was pretty epic. It also raises several interesting questions: do the Sith live on through the dark side, regardless of whether those users are technically Sith? Can Kylo Ren adopt the moniker of a Sith Lord as a sort of legacy, like getting into a Greek house on campus just because your grandfather was a member? Are these Sith Lords, already knowing the future and their eventual demise, adopting Kylo Ren as one of their own in order to persevere? Curiouser, and curiouser…it’s also very Darth Vader to just brush it all off as nothing, taking his anger (or fear, if you believe Bane) out on the Emperor’s guards and then moving on, as if nothing happened…

A STAR WARS COMIC #10 – ECHOES

edit_01_echoes-01-402x600Wampas in Star Wars, spooky, scary! (If you’ve watched 30 Rock, you might get that…) Anyway, I like this issue because it’s another good example of what the Star Wars expanded content really should be, in my opinion: stories about unknown, fringe, or background characters in familiar Star Wars-y places, but perhaps unfamiliar narrative situations. I also like this because it reminds me of a D&D one-shot taking place in the Star Wars universe – I mean, Garratha even looks like a dwarf (albeit a giant one) with his braided “beard” and axe. The party gets together, is given their call to adventure by a superior, and then they go on their quest: to find their missing compatriots. Along the way, they stumble into the wrecked camp where their fellow soldiers were, and then they follow clues into a cave (or, you know, dungeon) where they find their friends dead and hung up as snacks. Then, of course, they have to fight the monsters that lurk in the dun–cave to make their way out. There’s a nice homage to Empire Strikes Back too (aside from the obvious one of them being on Hoth) when Garr hacks off one of the wampas’ arms. Kinda makes me wonder if the two arm-less wampas ever found each other, wandering the snowy wastes, barely getting by, and teamed up to become a sort of Voltron-esque super wampa once combined…

A STAR WARS COMIC #11 – GONK

01_gonk-01-402x600This issue is a subtle charmer. Much like one of the Marvel runs did with astromechs, we’re given a blanket description of what a gonk droid is, presumably from some sort of droid brochure or catalog (maybe something the jawas passed to Owen for him to peruse while they got the droids all lined up for sale), but, as is so often the case in Star Wars, we find out that at least this gonk in particular is more than what you see on paper. This might be one of the most solid offerings from A Star Wars Comic because it works on so many levels. First, it provides us with a different point of view (see what I did there?) on a story we all already know very, very well without being pedantic or redundant. Second, it shows us that R2 & 3PO weren’t the first droids that Luke was friendly with, and treated like people instead of tools. Third, it shows us that Luke wasn’t born with some inherent sense of good, boundless hope, and unwavering bravery, these are things he learned along the way growing up with his aunt & uncle, and his faithful gonk droid. Forth, it’s a reminder that we all, no matter how seemingly insignificant, have a story to tell, and have impacted the lives of those around us in some way, shape, or form. Is this my favorite ASWC? No. Is this their best work? Maybe…probably…

A STAR WARS COMIC ANNUAL #1 – THE LAST JEDI

x01_tlj-402x600This issue says so much without saying anything at all. I think they could have easily gotten away with not putting any text on the comic at all, in fact, I think I’d have preferred it as there’s really no question we’re looking at Luke on the moon of Endor, watching, alone, as his father’s funeral pyre burns (but doesn’t completely destroy the former Dark Lord’s mask). Oddly enough, I think one of my favorite bits from this issue is the inclusion of the Lambda-class shuttle Luke used to escape the exploding second Death Star. I also really like the idea that he took time to have this solemn, solitary moment to mourn the passing of the terrible, villainous father that he hardly even knew before making his way to the celebration with his friends and their newfound ewok allies. It’s interesting that Luke’s flashbacks, or memories, dwell initially on his father, and even more so that they’re not on Anakin’s moment of triumphant redemption, rather on some of the evils Vader inflicted on Luke and then the final, vulnerable moment when the mask was removed (physically and metaphorically) and Anakin was able to actually be the boy’s father for the first, and only, time. This positive reflection causes him to think back to other happy instances with his friends, his real family, spanning the entirety of the original trilogy. I really appreciate that, at one point, a group of undoubtedly scared, lost Stormtroopers go by and Luke lets them pass in peace, having no lingering feelings of vengeance or animosity toward them – for now, the war is over, it’s time to think about the next steps, steps up to see his friends, and, eventually, his past masters in the Force, much like his initial steps up the sands of Tatooine where he gazed out at the twin suns…

A STAR WARS COMIC #12 – HOPE

x01_hope_aswc-402x600To paraphrase someone from Twitter that I’m too lazy to research, “we are all Rey.” That is an incredibly accurate, succinct review of this comic. We are all Rey, zealously consuming stories about our heroes, getting too excited at times, and (especially lately) consistently being introduced to new characters and having to reevaluate our feelings about our favorites. It’s an amazing time to be a Star Wars fan; however, last year fandom was dealt a serious blow with the unexpected and untimely passing of Carrie Fisher. What this comic does exceptionally well, aside from comment, perhaps unintentionally, on fandom, is honor her memory. To many people, myself included, Princess/General Leia Organa and Carrie Fisher are the same person – Leia is like Carrie’s nom de plume. The person that Carrie was informed the character that Leia is and always will be. In that way, as is alluded to in the comic, her memory and her legacy will last literally forever, just like the words and actions of a young, Alderaanian Princess turned seasoned Rebellion and Resistance General will live on, regardless of what becomes of her. I love how the comic shows various methods of people in universe learning about Leia, including the story being told to Rey by the magnificent ithorian, Trelo. It’s akin to the many ways people can now be introduced to and learn about the character from the original or the sequel trilogy to Forces of Destiny, Rebels, and her books and comics. Homages and dedications like this always bring a bit of a tear to my eye, but they also give me hope that, as Luke says in The Last Jedi, “no one’s ever really gone.”

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, my reviews, overviews, reflections, whatever you want to call them on the first year of A Star Wars Comic are complete. The “first year,” you say?!?! That’s right, as they announced on Comics with Kenobi, A Star Wars Comic will be back in 2018, though this time it will be bimonthly, so there will only be six issues (or maybe seven if they do another annual). But! That’s six issues that will likely be created with much more passion and care than any of the who knows how many comics Marvel will churn out next year, so, don’t despair (as I nearly did), six is still much greater than the zero. So, from me and all of fandom (even if they don’t know it), thank you so much for sharing your creativity with us over the year, A Star Wars Comic, and we look forward to whatever 2018 brings…oh, and may the Force be with you…

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