In Review: Star Wars #44

Issues can be taken with every contribution to this book.

The covers: A diverse threesome of frontpieces to pick up if the Force is with you. The Regular cover is by David Marquez & Matthew Wilson. Looking like a propaganda poster, Princess Leia in her white togs with her hands on her hips as she looks upwards to her left. She’s flanked by four other characters, two on each side, looking in the same direction. Above them several ships, including X-wings, Y-wings, and A-wings streak up in the direction the characters are looking. The coloring is dominated by yellow for the sky and the characters around the princess in oranges. Leia is colored normally, making her stand out. A decent cover, but if I’m going to get a propaganda poster it’ll be for the Empire. The Galactic Icons Variant cover by Rod Reis focuses on Captain Phasma. It’s good image of the stormtrooper who doesn’t really do much in the films. This is okay, but would have been a little neater if her helmet had been broken, showing her eye as it does at the end of The Last JediJohn Tyler Christopher continues to impress on his Action Figure Variant covers with this image of the (Twin Pod) Cloud Car Pilot. This quickly scene character from The Empire Strikes Back was an actual action figure back in the day, but it didn’t look as cool as this carded figure. The figure is in the same pose as the toy produced, but is it me or does that figure have a five o’clock shadow? The “photo” of the character is gorgeous, with the details around the character’s mouth and eyes outstanding. I need this cover. Overall grades: Regular A-, Galactic Icons Variant B, and Action Figure Variant A+

The story: Leia, Han, Luke, Ackbar, Artoo, and Threepio are on Mon Cala for a quiet meeting. Han’s explanation of why he’s been to the world before is tempered by a comment from Ackbar that gets the Corellian’s hackles up. His reason for using a specific word for the man is funny and provides the last moment of intentional levity in Kieron Gillen’s story for several pages. This is because Grand Admiral Urtya has arrived. He’s come to hear a grand plan from Leia. She begins to tell him the Death Star has changed everything, but before she can go much further an Imperial patrol ship stumbles upon them. Han volunteers to speak to its crew, but the ship makes its intents to those on the beach quite clear. He does eventually deal with the stormtroopers on board and things go about as well as they ever go for the smuggler. Soon the characters are on the run in the jungles with the Imperials in pursuit. All the while Leia tries to win Urtya over to the Rebel cause. This was too much. Han would do this, but not Leia. It came off as comical, undercutting the tension from the troopers’ chase. The grand admiral finally states why he can’t help the Rebels, but this leads Leia to seek the help of a new secret ally. This was a really roundabout way to get Mon Cala into the series, but it does so using silly dialogue and situations. A disappointing read. Overall grade: C 

The art: Salvador Larroca’s art is not working for me in this issue because there appears to be several panels of photo insertion for the settings. This begins on the first page with the distant rocks. It continues with more rocky structures on Page 2, and goes on through Page 7. Every time I saw one of these rock formations all I could think was “photograph.” This insertion gets worse when the characters run through the jungles, with these leafy fortifications looking horrible with illustrated work on top of them. Larroca can draw, he’s shown it before on other Star Wars books, but this book screams out that it was late for a deadline and photos were used to complete it. Even worse is the effect used for a holographic transmission at the end of the book. Justification is given for it looking muddled, but a computer has obviously been used to distort it. I would have preferred to see Larroca draw an untouched illustration of the transmission than look at these wastes of panels. Much better are the character likenesses with the humans, droids, and Mon Calamari looking incredibly strong. There’s an explosion early in the book that uses a computer blur to make the action more realistic, but it, sadly, comes off looking like a printer error. I cannot see why any company would resort to such effects when artists, such as Larroca, are more than capable in creating motion well in their visuals. On the same page there’s a funny image of Threepio that foreshadows an early scene in Return of the Jedi. These visuals are heartbreaking. Overall grade: C-

The colors: The rock formations that are in the opening pages are colored very lightly to give them some distance from the characters, or, as I assume, it’s an easier way to disguise their being photographs. I learned from an artist that computer blurs are often done by colorists, so I’m asking if Guru-eFX is responsible for the large one in this issue.  If so, it was completely unwarranted. Urtya and Ackbar’s flesh is colored extremely well however, as is the skin of the human characters. The best coloring of the book is done in the bottom panel on 15 with a reflection looking superb. There’s much to like about Guru-eFX’s work on this book, and much to question. Overall grade: C+

The letters: The same willowy, weak font is used for dialogue in this book as it is in all Star Wars books, and the same blocky scene settings exist. There are a few yells in the book that have odd spiky balloons around them that attempt to pump up the bellows. The best text in the book are Artoo’s utterances. VC’s Clayton Cowles is the letterer of this issue. Overall grade: C+

The final line: Moments in the story strain credulity and the photo insertion ruins a majority of the book. Issues can be taken with every contribution to this book. Marvel, it’s time for some changes on this title. This book is beginning to dip as below average. Overall grade: C+

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Star-Wars-2015-44/digital-comic/626659?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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