In Review: Star Wars #53

This will please every Star Wars fan.

The covers: Three very different covers for this installment in the Star Wars saga. The Regular cover is by David Marquez & Marte Gracia and features Han Solo in some surprising togs: an X-wing pilot’s outfit! He’s mirroring the classic pose that Luke Skywalker made when entering his ship. I like the smile from Han and, being an immense fan of X-wing pilots, I love this. Logray (Ewok Shaman) is the Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher. Ewoks have never bothered me; I liked the little guys when I saw Return of the Jedi when it first came out. That said, of all the characters in the world to get one of these variant covers, does it have to be another Ewok? This fake Kenner carded figure looks great, as all of Christopher’s variants have been, but an Ewok? I like this, but…You know. I’m hoping this is the last Ewok variant. Rod Reis creates the Galactic Icons Variant cover featuring Maz Kanata, Pirate Queen. I’m not a fan of Maz, especially after her pointless appearance in The Last Jedi, but I admit to really liking this image. She looks wise and though she’ll do whatever she can to help someone. It’s impossible not to like this cover. Overall grades: Regular A, Action Figure Variant A, and Galactic Icons Variant A+

The story: The fourth chapter of “Hope Dies” by Kieron Gillen opens in spectacular fashion with Leia watching Hudsol’s ship explode, the latest to fall victim to Queen Trios’s treachery in assisting the Empire in revealing the Rebellion’s position. Draven tells Leia that they have their best slicer working on Trios’s files and some good news is that X-wings have launched from the flagship. The story moves to Luke who’s out there with Artoo as the fighter next to him is blown out of the sky. The Millennium Falcon is also in the thick of battle, with Han broadcasting to all of Rogue Squadron that they should “nuzzle up against the destroyers. Take it from a smuggler — This always works.” Luke tells the squad to do what Han suggested. This issue has some very smart decisions from several characters. This demonstrates that the Rebellion isn’t dead and that they’re going to find a way to avoid utter destruction. After Han’s clever instruction, Luke has an idea of his own that boosts their chances. Leia takes the biggest chance of all in this issue, with her having to do something that Finn and Rose were unable to accomplish. Complicating their situations is Darth Vader flying about searching for the Falcon and he finds it. Pages 16 – 19 are great and would create cheers if it were part of a film. The last page would elicit gasps for the meeting that’s going to occur next issue. There’s lots of action — smart action — in this issue and that’s reason enough to pick this up. Overall grade: A

The art: Salvador Larroca’s art is good, but there are several panels one can tell were pulled from movie stills to get characters’ likenesses correct. The first panel of the book is of Leia watching a Rebel ship explode; she looks great. The explosion is shown in the second panel and it’s monstrous. It’s the perfect visual to show the Rebellion losing hope. Draven and the slicer are shown on the second page in the long horizontal panels that Larroca employs and they look great. That final panel on the page is modeled after Leia’s reveal in The Empire Strikes Back; I’ve seen that movie enough times to recognize it. The action that follows on Page 3 is frantic as Luke tries to fight Imperial forces as he, and Rogue Squadron, are being shot at. The action intensifies on the next page with the Falcon shown to be in really bad shape as Han and Chewbacca try to stay alive. I really like the streaks in the fourth and fifth panels on this page showing the high speed of the fighters and the blasts they’re charging into. The space scenes in this issue are really impressive, and I was glad to see that Artoo got some face time in this book as he’s assisting Luke. Admiral Ackbar gets some time as well and he looks terrific; the moment when he makes a realization is perfect. The landing that occurs on Page 14 is something that’s never been in any film and it’s epic. The two panels that follow it on 15 are terrific, though I wish they hadn’t been in silhouette; I feel cheated in not seeing the character’s face. The action sequence on 18 is cinematic in how it’s accomplished and had me cheering. The progression of images on 19 had me getting nervous and then had me as anxious as Leia with what’s shown. The last page is a joy to see and will have Star Wars fans squirming until the next issue comes out. Overall grade: A

The colors: I was glad to see that Guru-eFX don’t make this a dark book, as there are several opportunities to do so. I want to clearly see what’s happening to the heroes I love and their colors happily give this to me. The cool colors of the bridge that Leia is on casts her in pale violets. The explosion she’s witnessing is brilliant in orange and yellow. Cast against the reds from this sector of space they’re in makes this explosion, and all that follow, incredibly strong. Luke and Wedge’s cockpits have the characters in the traditional oranges of X-wing pilots and they made my heart soar every time I see them. The energy bolts hurling at the fighters are in the Imperial greens one would expect, but, again, against the red of space they really pop out to the reader. I won’t say what the color is, but the one used on the final page, and its many shades, is exceptional. Overall grade: A 

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles creates this issue’s text which includes scene settings, dialogue, Wookiee speech, a whisper, an Artoo wail, and a transmission. The scene settings and dialogue continue to disappoint, as do the lack of sound effects. For all the explosions, blasts, and violent landings the book is sadly mute. The Wookie speech and Artoo bleep are good, though. Marvel, please put some of the Academy Award winning sounds into this franchise! Overall grade: C+

The final line: This is an action packed issue with the Rebels making very smart moves. The story is thrilling and the visuals outstanding. If only the lettering were as strong. Still, I can’t dismiss the rest of the book if the lettering is bad. This will please every Star Wars fan. Overall grade: A-

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-2015-53/digital-comic/49119?r=1

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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