Anyone else hyped for The Last Jedi? Statistically speaking, most people reading this are. But while the movie is slowly approaching, there’s been plenty of quality Star Wars content from Marvel, and now with Kieron Gillen taking over as writer, the new run begins tying in events following the original trilogy to Rogue One.
Written by Kieron Gillen
Illustrated by Salvador Larroca
Colored by Guru e-FX
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
THE ASHES OF JEDHA! KIERON GILLEN’S FIRST ISSUE ON STAR WARS! The Rebel Alliance turns its attention to the shattered planet of Jedha! Once the site of great significance to the Jedi, Jedha was left in ruins when the Death Star annihilated the Holy City there. Now, new series writer Kieron Gillen joins artist Salvador Larroca to bring Luke, Leia, Han, and the rest to the remains of the tragic victim of the Empire’s fury!
As great as Rogue One was, it still felt somewhat detached from the rest of the Star Wars canon, due to it’s place as a sequel to the prequels, but still a prequel to the original series. However, as the movie set up plenty of new planets, events, and groups to explore, Kieron Gillen is taking it for all its worth, and going to Jedha.
Now, I have been a fan of Kieron Gillen ever since “Journey Into Mystery,” and his past “Star Wars” work in “Darth Vader” was nothing short of outstanding. As such, I had high hopes going in, and the comic thus far has been a satisfactory start.
From the very first page, we’re plunged into the conflict, and the dialogue we’re given tells us all we need to know about the setup and characters. Chulco’s devotion to the will of the Force, how he and Ubwin continue to fight in Saw Gerrera’s name, and the dire straits they’re in are all illustrated clearly, and we already get a feel for who they are before Luke swoops in to help.
When we get to the main characters, their voices remain consistent and strong, even when given Gillen’s flair with dialogue. When Luke comes in on a creature that seems to be a strange horse-lizard hybrid, he describes his group as “The strange, whatever-these-are-called riding cavalry.” Definitely a touch of Gillen, but still not out of character for Luke to say. Similarly, he manages to capture Han’s sarcasm and wit in a way that lets it read just as if Harrison Ford were speaking the lines.
But of course, what would “Star Wars” be without the world building? There are plenty of worlds to build, but by bringing us back to Jedha, we get to see the aftermath of the events in Rogue One. This issue does a great job letting us see just how badly the planet is damaged from the Death Star’s attack, made even more stunning by the beautifully-illustrated shot of a broken moon hanging in the sky. Salvador Larroca and Guru e-FX really outdid themselves with that page, because it is a chilling but wonderfully drawn sight.
The “Star Wars” comic does more than just land on Jedha, it ties in to Saw’s group, the Partisans, and the Empire’s hunt for kyber crystals. We get to meet members of the Partisans that we never really got to know from their short time in the movie, and get to see them as people with their own lived experiences.
Although apparently bringing people to the base with bags on their heads is customary to the point where the rebels voluntarily don them to “honor their ways.”
Meanwhile, on the Empire’s side, Gillen introduces a handful of new characters, all equally interesting. There’s Commander Kanchar, a gruff Imperial officer with a cybernetic arm who has taken a note from Vader’s book of killing underlings, along with Queen Trios of Shu-Torin, an unshakeable ruler ready to help the Empire mine Jedha for all its remaining kyber.
Gillen is setting all the pieces in place, and things are undoubtedly going to get interesting really soon.
Then we have the art for the comic, which is beautifully drawn and colored… with one exception.Continued below
We’ll start with the good: all the designs are great, and every panel looks fantastic. Salvador Larroca and Guru e-FX have excellent synergy between their illustrations and colors, and we get some stunning panels out of it. In addition to the aforementioned shot of the broken moon in the sky, we get such wonderful images as the black Imperial ship rising over a smoldering battlefield, the Millennium Falcon landing atop a crystal spire, and an establishing shot inside a Star Destroyer that looks and feels just like one from the movie.
The character designs are very solid all around as well. Not only does Salvador Larroca manage to draw existing “Star Wars” characters nicely, the new ones are all impressive in their own ways. There’s Commander Kanchar’s imposing frame, made all the more impressive by his single eyepatch, mechanical arm, and evil looking goatee, while Queen Trios is given a white, blue, and gold ensemble that is sleek, elegant, and maintains the aesthetic we’ve come to expect from “Star Wars” royalty.
However, at the same time, the characters are where we get the one complaint I do have with the artwork. All the characters faces are drawn with photorealistic detail, making them look similar to actual people. If the rest of the comic matched that style, that would be one thing, but everything else is still in a comic art style (albeit a beautiful style, but still 2-D). As such, there’s a stark contrast between the characters’ faces and everything else, including their outfits and everything around them.
On their own, either style would look great. The detailing and shading on the characters makes it look like they’ve come right out of the scenes, and the designs and coloring for the world around them look great. Yet when they’re put together, they don’t complement one another, and the result is jarring.
Overall, though, that’s one complaint for otherwise beautiful artwork.
All in all, this new “Star Wars” arc is off to a promising start. Kieron Gillen is in full form, bringing in new characters while tying in to the overarching mythos of the franchise, while the art from Salvador Larroca is wonderful, and enhanced by the fantastic color work by Guru e-FX. If you’ve been looking for a chance to start on the “Star Wars” comics, this is it.
Final Verdict: 7.9 – The arc is off to a good start, with nice pacing, good character work, and wonderful artwork. Just what we need to get us hyped for The Last Jedi.