In Review: Star Wars #51

Treachery is confronted and only a smuggler can save the Rebellion.

The cover: The Millennium Falcon emerges from an explosion, with several TIE Fighters still trying to take it out. This is an exciting cover from David Marquez & Jesus Aburtov. The contents of this cover could be used on any Star Wars book, but this scene does indeed occur within in this issue. This is an excellent promise of things to come. Overall grade: A 

The story: Picking up from last issue, Queen Trios of Shu-Torun makes a hasty escape to her ship that’s docked at Mako-Ta Base. She’s sold out the recently constructed Rebel fleet to the Empire to preserve her world’s safety. Her ship can’t leave because the airlock has been compromised by the Rebels. In a scene reminiscent of the opening to A New Hope, the Rebels storm in, exchanging fire with the Queen’s troops. Leia is with the group and is asked to hang back by Bandwin who tells her she’s too valuable to lose. “Everyone’s too valuable to lose, Bandwin! And everyone’s dying out there.” Realizing her ship won’t be able to launch, the Queen makes her way to an escape pod, is spotted by Leia, and the pursuit begins. Writer Kieron Gillen doesn’t hold back when these two characters exchange words. It’s utterly fantastic to see Leia confronting a traitor, especially one that she trusted. Leia’s final words on page 7 are outstanding. After Leia deals with this antagonist, she returns to the bridge where the Rebel leaders helplessly watch as their fleet is pummeled. It’s at this point that the Millennium Falcon arrives with Han, Chewie, and Threepio. Leia contacts the rogue and you can guess what he decides to do. There’s lots of action and I found myself respecting the smuggler for doing the right thing in the worst of situations. This is a neat way by Gillen to show that his character is changing before the actions of The Empire Strikes Back. There’s no resolution to this issue, with another iconic character entering the fray and leaving fans on the edge of their seats wondering how the situation could get any worse. Overall grade: A

The art: Salavador Larroca opens this book with a full-paged splash showing the Queen’s ship at the base, while in the background a Star Destroyer is seen and a Rebel ship is blasted by an unseen foe. The Queen’s seat on her ship is ornate, which is fitting after all that’s been shown of this character and her culture for the last year. The design of her troops’ outfits is very hostile, unlike any I’ve seen on a human race in Star Wars comics. The entrance of the Rebels on 3 shows the chaos of their arrival. I like the number of shots directed at them and that a few of the troops are in familiar garb. The confrontation between Leia and the Queen is fantastic; I love the final panel on 6 and the close-up of the characters on 7 — that look from Leia is ice cold. The fire the Rebel fleet is taking is well done and the reactions from the leaders are appropriately dour as they see their hope taken away. The ships look fantastic in every panel they appear and when the Falcon arrived I cheered. The final panel on 11 is fantastic — very cinematic. Pages 13 and 14 are set up in five equal sized horizontal panels, a format that Larroca likes, and mirrors a still from a film. This also allows him to focus on characters’ reactions, and Han and Leia look great. 15 shows a Star Destroyer and the details in it are killer, as in the Falcon. The action scenes involving the Falcon are amazing; this is the first time the ship has had a fairly drawn out battle and it’s amazing: the Falcon on 18 is at an incredible angle, while on 19 it’s all over the place avoiding fire, with one panel diagonal to show that the ship is not flying level. The final page contains a gasp worthy image that shocked me, because this isn’t supposed to happen. Great visuals on this issue. Overall grade: A

The colors: The colors are outstanding on this issue, created by Guru-eFX. Using light to dark oranges for the background really makes every ship, Rebel and Imperial, stand out. It also allows green blaster fire to be clearly seen. The Queen’s outfit is blue, white, and gold, as is her chair and her soldiers. All three of these colors recall the colors of European aristocracy. Page 7 shows the distance between the speakers and the black setting really makes the characters eye catchers. Every character’s skin looks outstanding, toned wonderfully. The arrival of the Falcon out of hyperspace is done in familiar dark blues from the films. Pages 18 and 19 are beautiful for the deep crimson skies as the Falcon flits about. The reds in the final image of the book made me gasp. It’s a familiar enough image, colored as I would expect, but I still would never expect to see this. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles creates this issue’s scene settings, dialogue, sounds, yells, wookiee speech, and Threepio speech. The dialogue continues to be an issue for me with this series as there’s no strength to what any human says, even when they yell. Chewie’s roars are fine, but I’m at a loss to understand why the dialogue balloons often only appear at the end of the utterance. It makes sense when the beginnings and the ends go beyond the balloon, because the roar is so loud it can’t be contained, but why would it not have a balloon encasing them, save the last three letters? It doesn’t make sense and this distracting choice continually pulls me out of the story. Thankfully there are plenty of sounds in this book, though blaster shots are still mute. A mixed bag for this element of the book. Overall grade: C+

The final line: Treachery is confronted and only a smuggler can save the Rebellion. An outstanding story with some excellent visuals. Leia and Han steal the issue, with the Falcon making some impressive maneuvers. This is an issue to get! Overall grade: A-

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-2015-51/digital-comic/48549?r=1

To see the cover 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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