In Review: Star Wars: Age of Resistance-Captain Phasma #1

Phasma is fully shown as an inspiration and as a survivor of the First Order.

The covers: Four frontpieces to find for this infamous character’s one-shot. The Regular cover by Phil Noto has the character standing strong with her steel pike in both hands. Her cape is billowing slightly to the right. Behind her is an orange explosion of smoke between two jagged black shapes. This looks great, but Noto’s work is always excellent. The Concept Design Variant by Tonci Zonjic is a fantastic piece that teases something a movie showed too briefly. Phasma is shown from three-quarters view to the right. An unseen fire is before her as evidenced by the orange tint on her reflective armor and the many embers flying before and around her. Her mask has cracked open exposing her right eye and part of her face. I love this and has me wishing the movies had done so much more with this character. A close-up of the character’s mask dominates the Photo Variant cover, so much so that the top of her helmet partially covers the title. This is great. I love photo covers and this is one I wouldn’t mind owning. The Puzzle Piece Variant cover by Mike McKone & Guru-eFX is the best of the four. Phasma stands in the center holding a rifle as her cape blows strongly to the right. Behind her is a red background with a bit of blue star field in the lower left. In this blue area six ships resembling A-wings fly diagonally to the left. The top of the image, leaving the red area, has several Star Destroyers going to the lower left. Dominating the right are several TIE Fighters leaving the top right red area and moving into the lower left blue. This is fantastic. Overall grades: Regular A, Concept Design A+, Photo Variant A, and Puzzle Piece Variant A+

The story: I’m not a fan of Captain Phasma. She was overly hyped for The Force Awakens, had little screen time, and even less in The Last Jedi. Her death, if she died, was horrible writing. The comic books have done more with her than the films. Going into Tom Taylor’s tale I was not expecting much. He certainly delivered, more so than what was done with her in the films. The book opens in the Unknown Regions on the Iron Planet of Demir. First Order troopers are blasting the large rocky humanoid denizens of this world. Why is never explained, but conquest is not the focus. KM-8713 is the teller of this tale. She thinks, ‘I am a stormtrooper of the First Order. But I will be more. The one who leads us is more. She has a name…She is Phasma.’ A turn of the page shows Phasma leading her unit, holding one creature back with her hand as she blasts the one before her, yelling, “For glory! For the First Order!” Her foes felled, she orders her unit to halt. “Let the walker do its job. It will clear a path to the stronghold. Be ready to charge. Do not hesitate. Do not second-guess. You are in my command. You are another gun I hold. If your aim isn’t true. If you falter. Then you are no longer a gun. No longer worthy to be a hand. No longer worthy to serve the First Order.” Something then occurs to stop Phasma’s speech that involves KM. Things get personal on Page 7 when KM attempts to do something. I enjoyed/hated the action on 9 which is fantastic. This is followed by a conversation between both characters, with Phasma giving some advice to KM and it’s so darned good. Again, this moves the character considerably beyond what was done in the films. The reveal on 17 is great, with the bigger one on 18 outstanding. The book’s conclusion is never really in doubt, but it’s still a great ending. Someone get Taylor his own monthly Star Wars title, please? Overall grade: A

The art: The artwork on this book is really good. Leonard Kirk is on pencils and Cory Hamscher on inks. If a book is going to follow stormtroopers they’ve got to look good in action and they certainly do in this book. The first page starts with a large panel of troopers blasting at rocky creatures coming at them. There are explosions everywhere and ships zipping about in the sky. The second panel features KM-8713 running toward the reader, her head and shoulders overlapping the first panel. She’s shown firing her weapon in the next panel and the final panel shows The back of Phasma’s head is reflected in KM’s helmet. Pages 2 and 3 are a true double-paged splash that has Phasma in action, looking like a figure that would inspire anyone to follow her. Page 4 has her speaking with her troops and looks great as she stands above them, her hand out to emphasize her words and her cape billowing. The last panel on the page puts the focus on KM excellently. There’s a good sense of movement at the top of 5 with characters shifting their focus quickly. The action at the top of 6 is great and I really like the design of the ship. The reveal in the final panel humanizes KM and might be a surprise to the reader. The horizontal panels on 7 contain some solid actions and I like how Phasma comes to dominate them by the close of the page. The action on 9 is killer and the third panel is full of tremendous energy. Pages 10 – 12 are a visually interesting conversation because of how Phasma is shown/not shown. The action on 14 looks outstanding; Kirk and Hamscher are really knocking it out of the park on the troopers. The actions that follow look great and the top panel on 19 is outstanding; if only this could have been in a film! The last page is brutal but absolutely true to the character. Great visuals on this book. Overall grade: A

The colors: The troopers and Phasma stand out terrifically due to the world of Demir being different shades of orange. Guru-eFX give the troopers a dull white shine and Phasma her expected reflective metallic gray. I love that the scene setting that starts the issue is in reds, creating a harsh tone before the carnage is encountered. The blaster fire and explosions on Demir are terrific in orange. The double-paged splash on 2 and 3 is realistically colored given the action, but Phasma is too dark. She improves considerably on the all the pages that follow, with her shine on 4 outstanding. Having the suns of Demir behind her on 7 has her looking especially cool. Pages 10 – 12 are the calmest colors of the issue, given the setting, and I like how the background allows KM to stand out with her helmet off. A return to the surface of Demir has oranges again dominating and they make the actions incredibly strong and harsh. Overall grade: A

The letters: VC’s Travis Lanham is responsible for the scene settings, narration and dialogue (the same font), sounds, yells, and screams. I like the format given for the scene settings in this book (and series) with a bar containing the location or time preceded by an icon of the character that dominates the issue. It’s simple but stands out. I wish the main Star Wars book used this. The dialogue is good and is set apart from yells and screams with these being a larger, thicker font; doing so allows them to be more realistically heard by the reader. However, KM’s narration should have been in a different font from the dialogue, rather than having it differed by the shape and colors of the balloons and boxes. The sounds are fun and there are a lot of them in this book; given the amount of destruction occurring that shouldn’t be surprising. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Phasma is fully shown as an inspiration and as a survivor of the First Order. The story expands her handsomely beyond what was shown in the films with a lot of trooper action right in the thick of things. The visuals are great: if you’re looking for troopers, you’ll definitely want this! Lots of intensity and drama on the battlefield throughout this issue. The colors are also terrific, with the blasts and bodies immense. I went in to this as a very reluctant reader and became very open to more Phasma exploits. Overall grade: A

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-Age-Of-Resistance-Captain-Phasma-2019-1/digital-comic/51934?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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