In Review: Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Special #1

A real mixed bag of short stories with IG-88, Yoda, and Porkins and Biggs.

The covers: There are four covers to search far and wide for, as if they’re hiding on Dagobah. The Regular cover is by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Guru-eFX and features the four characters within this issue: Jek Porkins, Biggs Darklighter, Yoda, and IG-88. The pilots are on the far left, the Jedi Master is in the center foreground, and the bounty hunter is on the right. A massive white sun is behind the pilots, creating an orange sky. The characters look good, with Yoda outstanding. The Greatest Moments Variant cover by Jen Bartel shows Leia about to hang Han’s award around his neck. The princess looks great and the colors are good, but there’s a tremendous amount of wasted space at the top. I don’t think Bartel was aware that the title and credits would go at the bottom of her piece. The Puzzle Piece Variant cover by Mike McKone and Guru-eFX is an awesome illustration featuring Yoda front and center. Behind him is Porkins on the left and Biggs on the right. Behind this pair is IG-88. The left side of the image is red with a Star Destroyer at the top and TIE Fighters and X-wings at the bottom. These right side is blue with TIE Fighters continuing their journey from the left, with X-wings beginning their flight below them. This covers continue to impress. That said, the cover I purchased was the Variant by Marco Checchetto. The features a close-up of IG-88 exiting his ship in space with a gun in this hand to blast at the TIE Fighters that zip past him on the left. I love this character and the chaos Checchetto has placed him in. The colors on this are also cool, with the light rose used for the explosion cool and the TIEs’ emerald blasts awesome. Overall grades: Regular A-, Greatest Moments Variant B-, Puzzle Piece Variant A, and Variant A

The stories: “The Long Game” is a ten paged story by Simon Spurrier that has unknown and unseen narrator telling tales about bounty hunter IG-88. The narrator is telling the reader that every tale they hear about the droid is true. However, “…the strangest rumor about IG-88 is that it frequently chooses not to claim its bounties.” The killer gets itself involved with the Imperials in an unsuccessful venture, leading to a problem five years later. I was surprised by the action on Page 5 and was stunned by what occurs on 9. A very cool story with an excellent ending. I’m more than welcome to having Spurrier do more adventures of this deadly droid. Marc Guggenheim is the author of “The Trial of Dagobah,” a ten paged story that focuses on Yoda after his relocated to the swamp world. The Jedi sleeps terribly, haunted by overwhelming emotions, ultimately waking to realize his larder is empty. As he sets out to get some meat he thinks of all that’s happened to him. Something happens while hunting that puts him in a perilous position, reminding him of what happened in Revenge of the Sith. By the book’s end he finds an X-wing has crashed in the bog, leading to a classic scene to The Empire Strikes Back. I was okay with this story, but it wasn’t great. I didn’t like how Yoda hunted, nor his thoughts as he overcame his obstacle. The final ten pages belong to “Stolen Valor” by Jon Adams. This is an interesting tale. Porkins is depressed by the never ending war he’s engaged in. Biggs suggest they use some of their leave and go on vacation on Irff. Things go well until the twelfth day when they see someone and decide to ask this person some questions. There are some funny moments in this story, with their venue of escape being the best, but I couldn’t get a handle on the pathos with this type of slapstick comedy. Neither went well together. If this were all drama or all comedy, I probably would have liked it more. Overall grades: “The Long Game” A+, “The Trial of Dagobah” B-, and “Stolen Valor” C- 

The art: Caspar Wijngaard is the artist on the first tale. I like seeing IG-88 in action, with the second panel on Page 2 awesome. The reveal at the bottom of 5 is excellent. I also like the setting in the top panel on 7. The entrance and retrieval on 9 is cool, with that large panel on the last page just awesome. Seriously, Marvel, you need to get Wijngarrd on an IG-88 one-shot. The visuals by Andrea Broccardo on the Yoda story are staggeringly beautiful. The creatures he’s hunting are amazing looking, though I am taken aback by the first panel on Page 14, with the Jedi Master using a surprising weapon. I do like the parallel panels on 15, with a neat throwback to a past event. The final page has two solid close-ups of the lead character. I was thrown by Jon Adams’s art because it’s unlike anything I’ve seen in a Marvel Star Wars book. It looks fine, but is really cartoony. When the story goes serious, such as Page 22 and 30 I had a hard time going in that direction. When the story gets silly, as the boys are off on adventures during their vacation, the style suits the story. When on Irff, the visuals reminded me of a Rick and Morty comic or episode. This would be fine if the story was all comedy, but the drama fell flat with this interpretation. Overall grades: “The Long Game” A, “The Trial of Dagobah” A, and “Stolen Valor” C+

The colors: IG-88’s story has very stark colors which fit the stark nature of the story’s killer. The orange explosions are awesome, the violets for the underbelly of society are sleazy, and the blues for the underworld location are cool. Lee Loughridge is on point with this story. The variety of colors on Dagobah are done exceptionally well by Dono Sánchez-Almara. I love the fire lit opening panels, the colors of the creatures Yoda hunts, and the bright orange and yellow backgrounds when action occurs. Also having the narration in a pale green outlined in blue reinforced the swampy nature of the world. The colors by Chris O’Halloran on the Porkins and Biggs story are incredibly bright, giving their vacation an outlandish tone, as nowhere has looked like this before in the Star Wars Universe. The oranges, blues, pinks, and violets are fantastic, but remind me more of Moebius than Lucas. Overall grades: “The Long Game” A, “The Trial of Dagobah” A+, and “Stolen Valor” B- 

The letters: VC’s Travis Lanham is the only letterer on this issue — WHEW! — and he is the creator of dialogue and narration (the same font), droid speech, sounds, scene settings, and screams. I like the dialogue on this book, though it should be differed from the narration, rather than separated from speech though the colors and shapes of the balloons and boxes that contain them. IG-88’s dialogue is in italics, which is classically used to represent mechanically enhanced speech. The sounds are fun, especially on the first and last tale. The scene settings are gorgeous and should be used in every Star Wars title from Marvel. The last tale has two screams that add to the humor of the situation. Overall grade: A

The final line: A real mixed bag of short stories with IG-88, Yoda, and Porkins and Biggs. I loved the first, felt okay about the second, and was confused by the intentions of the third. As with any collection of short stories, some are better than others in story and visuals, and how one judges them ultimately depends on the reader. I though this was just a little better than average. Overall grade: B

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-Age-Of-Rebellion-Special-2019-1/digital-comic/51154?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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