In Review: Star Wars #54

The art and lettering lower this book's score.

The covers: Two very different, but very cool, covers to track down for this issue. Leia has her blaster held high as she senses that an antagonist is nearby. If only she had seen how close Vader was when he activated his lightsaber. Suspenseful Regular cover by David Marquez & Paul Mounts that will instantly have fans intrigued. The world’s most popular princess looks outstanding in this image and the colors are awesome with crimson tainting everything. Heck, even the title of this book is in a simmering red. The Action Figure Variant cover is by John Tyler Christopher and features a really neat alien: Squid Head! This was the name of the Quareen Kenner figure that appeared in Return of the Jedi. It wasn’t until much later that it got a more science fiction name. The figure is clothed in the exact same garb it had when it premiered in toy stores and Christopher’s illustration of the character is fantastic. I’ve always been a fan of these variant covers and I really like this. Take a look at the bottom corners of the faux card — they’re dinged up just like the actual figures were on the racks! So darned cool! Overall grades: Regular A and Action Figure Variant A+

The story: The penultimate chapter of Kieron Gillen’s “Hope Dies” opens with Han Solo changing into a Rebel pilot’s uniform so that he get into an X-wing and join Luke and the Rebels in fighting the Imperial forces. Chewbacca isn’t happy, left aboard Admiral Ackbar’s cruiser with the fried Millennium Falcon; the fighters aren’t big enough for Wookiees. Aboard the Executor, Leia, Draven, and some Rebels have finally gotten the codes they need to start up their remaining ships to escape the Imperial forces. The problem is that Vader is aboard the ship to stop them. Leia contacts the rearguard to tell them their mission has been successful, but they don’t respond. She knows exactly what’s happened. Turning to Draven she says, “He’s here.” In several pages reminiscent of the ending of Rogue One, Vader makes his way through several passages and several Rebels to get to Leia who’s on the run. One familiar faces makes a brave stand against the Sith, while Leia tries to leave the flagship of the Empire in a surprising choice of vehicle. I was somewhat disappointed that there wasn’t a moment that recalled Luke’s classic not-mistake of Marvel’s original Star Wars run in Issue #61, but this issue was already similar to another source. Pages 16 and 17 are exciting and the cliffhanger will keep fans wondering what will happen next in the final chapter of this saga. Lots of action and awesome moments in this issue. Overall grade: A

The art: Seeing Han Solo in an unfamiliar uniform blasting out of a bay in an X-wing is a great visual to start this issue. Han and Chewie look great, but the Corellian’s ship looks really muddy as it leaves the bay. Artist Salvador Larroca does a much better job on the full-paged splash on the second page which shows all the ships engaged in combat. This is a terrific illustration! The smile on Leia’s face that ends the third page is a terrific lead in to the large image of Vader on Page 4 with his lightsaber ignited as he stands among those he’s just killed. By putting Leia and Draven in a tiny panel at the bottom of this image Larroca has made the heroes’ chances seem small. Pages 5 – 9 mirror Rogue One and work well, with Vader being absolutely awesome as the takes down each Rebel one by one. Draven’s face is slightly inconsistent at times, though he looks great on Page 9. The exit on 10 is similar to the escape of the Falcon from the Death Star in A New Hope. Once the book turns to the ships and their battles, the visuals become stronger, with Larroca creating great tension with tight close-ups of characters and stars and energy blasts tearing by in the background. Page 17 has a great explosion in space, with the effects of this blast on the pilot really well done. I like how Larroca has captured the explosion on the ship and within the cockpit. I’m really not liking Page 18 because the faces are off on everyone: when shown from a distance characters are hidden in shadows and when shown up close they have odd line work, such as on Luke and a certain general. The first panel on the last page has some very clunky staging of the characters, with the close-ups at the bottom at least looking well done. This issue was strong until the ending, as if Larroca ran out of steam. Overall grade: B

The colors: Guru-eFX do a good job on this book’s colors starting strong with Han and his X-wing. The yellows and reds used for the space scenes have been and continue to be knockouts whenever they appear. The full-paged splash on the second page is gorgeous for the colors on it. I also like the laser blasts between ships, with readers able to recognize their origin just from their colors. Vader’s entrance into this issue is photorealistic due to the strong colors. When Vader attacks the Rebels the colors go crimson to match his lightsaber and to increase the tension. The explosions in space are beautiful in orange and yellow. The change in background colors on Page 19’s fourth panel is a visual key to the reader that the Rebels’ situation has improved. The colors increase the tension throughout this issue and provide clues to the reader. Overall grade: A

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles creates this issue’s text which includes scene settings, Wookiee speech, dialogue, a transmission and droid speech, sounds, and whispered dialogue. I’m not happy with the frail dialogue, the jagged Wookiee speech, the scene settings which appear blurry due to their white outlines, and the transmissions and droid speech being the same font. I do like the sounds and whispered speech, but there’s not enough of that to overcome all the design flaws of the other fonts. Overall grade: C+ 

The final line: The art and lettering lower this book’s score. It’s a decent enough issue, with the story being the strongest element. There’s still plenty enough to like, but Marvel continues to have the lettering on this franchise be inappropriate for what’s needed and the quality of the art lessens with each page. Overall grade: B+

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-2015-54/digital-comic/49120?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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