In Review: Thrawn #2

Plenty of scheming to gather and the foresight to maintain power in a galaxy far, far way...

The covers: A pair to find for this appropriately numbered second issue. Paul Renaud is the artist responsible for the Regular cover. Thrawn is shown in Imperial olives, hands behind his back, with his chin up as though making judgment on someone. Behind him is a planet with the Blood Crow escaping an explosion with several TIE fighters accompanying it. This is a very young looking Thrawn and it’s nice to see, as this story does take place early in the Imperial’s career. I’m not liking that he’s colored so darkly, nor do I like the photo insert for the planet, which stands out like a special effect from the Star Wars Holiday Special. This could have been a great cover. The Variant cover by Delcan Shalvey & Matthew Wilson is a change of pace as it’s set within the interior of a ship with an unsavory individual looking around every corner while holding a pistol ready. He’s obviously looking for Thrawn who, unknown to this man, is right behind him in an alcove filled with technology that seems out of place with the rest of the ship. Hovering next to the Chiss is a Buzz-droid. This is a good idea for a cover, but is pulled too far back from the reader. The corridor on the left and the ceiling are a waste. The colors are good, but it looks as though an explosion is at the other end of the corridor. This isn’t great, but it’s okay. Overall grades: Regular C and Variant B-

The story: Jody Houser is the writer of this tale, based on the novel by Timothy Zahn. The book opens aboard the Blood Crow as Thrawn defends himself to Captain Rossi for the scrap he has aboard the ship. As soon as he mentions the model of the Buzz-droids the captain backs off and lets him keep them. One month later the Blood Crow is at the derelict freighter Dromedar which contains a cargo of Tibanna gas for the Empire. He, Vanto, and two other Imperials board the ship and are immediately hit with a bright light that orders them to freeze. Vanto rushes forward and knocks the man to the ground. He reveals himself to be one of the last members of the crew after a pirate raid. What should have been an easy task to gather the gas quickly becomes complicated on Page 7, with Captain Rossi helping the Chiss and his attaché in a very roundabout way. The reveal on 12 was telegraphed pretty heavily, but it is enjoyable when it begins. Better is the conversation that begins on 15. I love the logical way that Thrawn states the options to those in the room and how there is only one possible choice. Even better is the conversation on 17. This I was not expecting, but I forgot that I was reading a story involving Imperials — why would this not happen? A new character is introduced on 18 and she is fantastic. I love how the character she’s speaking to shows that he’s been learning from someone else and uses those skills to change the tone of the conversation quickly. This is not a story with much action, but scheming to gather and the foresight to maintain power in a galaxy far, far way. Overall grade: A-

The art: The visuals on this issue are strong. Luke Ross opens with a small image of the Blood Crow. Its design is very different from any other ship I’ve seen in the Imperial Navy, but it looks cool. The interiors of this ship are really good, with the corridor that Thrawn and Vanto walk through sharp. The interiors of the Imperial shuttle that the characters are briefly shown in are also very well done. I also like how Ross had two small panels on Page 3 that showed Thrawn in close-up, reminding the reader that the focus, no matter how outstanding the surrounding visuals are, should always be on this character. Not to be watching him is to fall prey to him. Several times throughout the book there are tiny panels of Thrawn that are absolutely intense. Sometimes these images are accompanied with dialogue, but the ones where the Chiss just stares are riveting. This is the sign of an outstanding artist if an image without any text can strike a reader so strongly. The Dromedar has got sensational interiors. They are super detailed and had me completely believing in this setting. The character work throughout this book is also great. Not just Thrawn and Vanto, but Rossi, the survivor of the pirate raid (who looks terrific on 5!), and the individuals that appear on Page 9. The way characters react to Thrawn’s dialogue on 15 is great; even when they don’t speak, they’re telling Thrawn, and the reader, something about each. There’s some really cool overlapping of a character on 16 that shows that this individual surrounds a character. Very cool. The page that follows has some real cool movement from characters sitting down. Their slight actions make it seem like the reader is watching a live event unfold before him or her. I absolute love the design of the character on 18 who starts in one emotional state and slowly turns. Wow! I need to see more of this character. Ross is working some solid magic on this issue. Overall grade: A

The colors: Nolan Woodard begins this book with some cool, calming blues for the interior of the Blood Crow. It’s the perfect way to show the neat, mechanical machine of the Empire. Plus it also makes the reader believe that the blue skinned Thrawn is a calming force as well. But those red fiery eyes of his show that he’s not a soothing influence. Notice how the calming blues continue within the shuttle. Inside the Dromedar, the colors shift to a rusty off orange, instilling in the reader’s mind that this transport is lucky to still be running. Having the sole survivor wearing colors from the same palette makes him seem equally lucky to be working. Thrawn really stands out against these orange backgrounds. Take a look at the greens that become the norm when Rossi appears on 7, 8, and 14. It mirrors the disgust that she feels for two characters. The pinks on 15 – 17 are an unusual choice but work wonderfully. It’s an absolutely alien color that becomes a threatening presence as the scene progresses. On the final page Woodard changes the background color behind a character in the third panel. This makes this character harsh and ups the intensity of the words spoken. Woodard is aces on this issue. Overall grade: A

The letters: The text for this issue includes scene settings, dialogue and narration (the same font), an editorial note, yells, and  transmissions, all created by VC’s Clayton Cowles. I don’t blame Cowles for the scene settings or dialogue, which have continued to keep this franchise from being flawless, as they have been the format since Star Wars returned to Marvel. I do wish the narration and dialogue had been two different fonts, rather than differentiated by the shape of the balloon and colors. The dialogue is easy to read, which is quite a feat, as there is a lot in this book. Cowles is able to insert it without overpowering Ross’s art and that’s something deserving of praise. Overall grade: B+ 

The final line: Seeing Thrawn in action is neat to see, but so is attaché Vanto who is growing as well. Especially enjoyable was how Vanto is being courted by others to take down the Chiss. A solid story with strong visuals that’s a schemer’s delight. Overall grade: A-

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Star-Wars-Thrawn-2018-2-of-6/digital-comic/626679?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

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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