In Review: Star Wars #61

Goodbyes, hellos, and a major "Uh oh!" that features outstanding visuals.

The covers: Our heroes are under fire! An unconscious Han Solo is being dragged to safety by Sana Starros. Luke is deflecting blaster fire with his lightsaber, while Leia is returning fire with her pistol. Shots are flying everywhere! The illustration is full of tremendous action and the colors are incredibly bright, with those random blaster shots looking great. I really like the explosion in the center left. This is a fantastic Regular cover by Jamal Campbell. The Action Figure Variant by John Tyler Christopher is another “Must Have” cover because it features the galaxy’s most resourceful droid, Artoo-Detoo. The diminutive assistant is on a faux Kenner Action Figure card titled Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2): with Lightsaber. The figure looks perfect, wonderfully underdetailed just as the figures were back in the day. However, a green cylinder is protruding from the left side of its head — it’s Luke’s saber that the droid will shoot his way to have his master escape the clutches of Jabba the Hutt. The picture that Christopher has created is also great, being a close-up of Artoo with a panel on his head pulled back to reveal the weapon. I love Artoo, I love Jedi, and I love these covers by Christopher. I have to get this cover. I was also really pleased by the Greatest Moments Variant “Anakin’s Revenge” by Sara Pichelli and Marte Gracia. This is a great cover. Anakin is standing before a Tusken Raider’s home, his lightsaber held horizontally with both hands. Before him is a dead Sandperson, with another corpse leaning on the home. A Tusken Raider is to the young man’s right and in the foreground, this image shown looking over his shoulder, another sees the Jedi. In the night sky are three moons in a line. Great image and fantastic coloring. I would purchase this cover in a heartbeat. Overall grades: All A+

The story: At the Imperial Impound Yard at Novka, SCAR Squadron’s ship is coming in, but they’re not broadcasting the correct clearance code. It knocks the command tower over before landing. The gangplank drops and out comes Tula Markona leading her troops to fire upon the troopers attacking them. Following behind is Leia, Luke, Han, Threepio, Artoo, and Sana. Kieron Gillen has the heroes here so that Sana can get her ship back. The dialogue between Sana and Han is good, with him lying about what he cares about. Tula and the survivors of Clan Markona pick up their own ship and soon they’re off toward Brentaal IV to meet with someone named Qensog. I was really happy to see one of the familiar cast members actually contributing in a big way to the story, with what’s discussed on this world terrific. I especially liked that the conversation could not be read. I also like the punchline that ended Page 9. There’s a parting on 11, though there’s a promise for an eventual return. The dialogue at the bottom of this page concerned another Star Wars character and had me laughing. A reunion occurs two pages later, with a very emotional moment on Page 14. I also liked the Han moments on 16, with him changing his tune due to a friend’s intervention and the gesture he makes to end the page which has a lot of meaning after the reveal on the big screen last summer. The conversation on 17 and 18 had to occur and I was glad to see that one character still has a violent goal in mind. I had forgotten about the characters that are on the last two pages. That final page was a major “Uh-oh!” moment that has me extremely interested to see where Gillen is taking these characters next. This is a transition issue with some strong moments. Overall grade: A-

The art: I am extremely happy what Andrea Broccardo has brought to this book. The opening demonstrates that Broccardo has no problem doing excellent jobs on ships, as shown by the Imperial Shuttle and the all the vessels in the yard. I also like the amount of details in the third panel on the opening page, which shows two officers’ reaction to the incoming problem. Pages 2 and 3 is a partial double-paged splash showing some great action; the explosion that’s created is so good. I’m used to seeing speed lines on ships to show their movement and Broccardo doesn’t employ them here, but I can definitely feel the action of the ship. The final two panels on Page 3 are an excellent build to the reveal on 4. Wow! Tula looks incredibly strong and all she’s doing is standing there. The bottom panel has the cinematic heroes entrance and it has all of them in character defining stances: Han and Leia firing, Luke looking uncomfortable, Sana scowling, and Threepio the furthest back and confused. It’s a little thing, but I really like when artists have just a bit of their illustrations carry over to the next panel; it guides the reader to where to go and it makes the action seem as though it’s exploding from the book. Broccardo does this in the top panel on 5 with Sana’s gun protruding from the panel — makes it look like she’s running at the reader. I love everything about 6 with the character work outstanding. I also love the pair of ships blasting off at the end, mirroring many classic film scenes. The new character that appears on 7 – 9 is okay, but really simplistic. He sticks out because he’s the first element of this issue that isn’t highly detailed. I do like the final two panels on 8 that create some great tension without any dialogue. The pain of the character in the final panel on 10 is beautiful. The character that’s revealed on 13 is outstanding; every time this character appears he looks fantastic. The reveal on 15 is only missing the music of John Williams to herald it. Han is outstanding on 16 with some great emotion told in the images, with the final one being a gut punch and his face isn’t even shown. The final page’s largest panel has an image that told me this story is far from over. I would love to see Broccardo as the regular artist on this book. Overall grade: A

The colors: I want to be able to see the artwork in my comic books and Guru-eFX makes this happen. Oranges are used for the skies of Novka, which is an unusual choice, but it works well. The color does provide the perfect backdrop for green energy bolts. The clothes and armor that Clan Markona wears is composed of dull metal grays, punctuated by dull burgundry, and this allows the reader’s attention to gravitate to Tula’s exposed face and stay there. Notice how oranges are used for the bottom of the first panel on 4, allowing them to highlight the inserted panel that announces the heroes’ arrival. I love the expulsion in the second panel on Page 6. Threepio is wonderfully tarnished gold on his pages. Pages 10 and 11 are set in the dark, but I’m so grateful that Guru-eFX haven’t darkened them so much that the visuals cannot be seen. Notice that the exit on 11 has the sun rising: outstanding! I love the colors of the Kaliida Nebula, just gorgeous. The famous character that appears on 13 has perfectly mottled colored skin. The skin on the pair of characters speaking on 17 and 18 is perfect. The neon blues that get the focus on the final page are cinematic. Outstanding work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: This issue’s text by VC’s Clayton Cowles is composed of scene settings, dialogue, yells, Threepio speech, a “rare dialect of Huttese,” transmissions, and Wookiee roars. I applaud Star Wars for using their current scene settings which are easily readable. Threepio’s dialogue is in italics to show that he’s mechanical and it works well. I really like the Huttese speech: it should not be understood by the reader, but it should look as though there is a pattern to it, just as language has. It does and it, too, works. The dialogue font remains a thorn in my side for it being so svelte it renders all speech small, even yells. I am confused by Chewie’s roars. Sometimes the beginnings protrude from the speech balloons, sometimes the ends, and sometimes both ends. There’s no rhyme or reason, except they can’t fit in a dialogue balloon. Overall grade: B+

The final line: Goodbyes, hellos, and a major “Uh oh!” that features outstanding visuals. I enjoyed this issue because elements of the story are settled, while others are just beginning. There are also several character moments that ring absolutely true. The visuals are a big improvement over previous issues, with the art clearly seen. This is a Star Wars outing I can get behind. This was fun and I would like to restate that Broccardo should be the regular artist on this book. Overall grade: A

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-2015-61/digital-comic/50582?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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