Tag Archives: Star Wars

Darth Vader #16 Review

Darth Vader #16

Reviewed by Nathan Harrison

Written by: Greg Pak

Art: Raffaele Ienco

Released: 15/09/2021

Publisher: Marvel Comics

One of the biggest advantages of a major crossover event such as War of the Bounty Hunters is that stories can be told from all sides. Comic books only have so many pages that they can fill, so telling a story with an epic scope and dozens of key characters can sometimes be hampered by simply not having enough space to cover every potential aspect. This issue is a prime example of the comic book event doing what it always should, as events depicted in Darth Vader #16 run in tandem with the recently released fourth issue of the core mini-series and it makes for a thrilling aside which could not have been given adequate room to breathe had it been placed into the already very hectic main issue.

What we’re presented with is a heart in mouth, cat and mouse chase of an issue, which sees Luke feeling the hot breath of Vader’s TIE fighter down his exhaust ports once more, while a number of ongoing plot strands come together at breakneck pace. The shift between each aspect of the issue is deftly handled by Greg Pak, and Raffaele Ienco’s art remains simply stunning throughout, from the opening broad panels continuing the trippy fever dreams of an obsessed Vader (rendered in a wonderful murky crimson by Jason Keith and Rachelle Rosenberg) to the frenzied space chase that forms the crux of ‘Target Skywalker’.

One of the most iconic aspects of Star Wars (among an absolute plethora of them) is the masterful sound design of Ben Burtt. Without the imposing scream of the TIE fighter, the phasery slap of the lasers and the instantly recognisable beeps and woops of a concerned R2-D2, original trilogy dog fights would be a shadow of what they are. Props, then, to VC’s Joe Caramagna for his lettering across this issue, which shoots each sound straight between your eyes. His letters sometimes almost take over entire panels, just as the sounds themselves take over the senses when watching one of the movies – it’s pitched just right and shows that even a comic book, usually made up of no more sound than the occasional turn of the page, can become an absolute cacophony in the right hands.

Amongst all the action and the noise, however, Pak continues to deliver some of the best dialogue across all the Star Wars comics, especially when dealing with Ochi of Bestoon and Administrator Moore, whose face-off towards the end of the issue almost makes for a bit of light relief before the devastating conclusion which, much like its equivalent in the core series, sets up one hell of a final battle to come.


VERDICT

Pak and Ienco continue to produce an excellent book, which turns into a white-knuckle roller coaster for its 16th issue. The pace is such that it almost feels as if it’s over in the blink of an eye, but what that eye sees for the duration of the issue is some beautifully conceived space battle art and some of the best storytelling in the Marvel Star Wars roster.


Review by Nathan Harrison


Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #4 – Review

STAR WARS: WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS #4
Reviewed by Nathan Harrison

Written by: Charles Soule

Art: Luke Ross with David Messina

Colours: Neeraj Menon with GURU-eFX


Released: 15/09/21

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Though issues of their own title have formed part of the wider narrative of the War of the Bounty Hunters event, the main characters from the excellent Bounty Hunters series have been (mostly) conspicuous by their absence in the titular mini-series that acts as the linchpin of the 34-part narrative. That is, until now, and it was certainly worth the wait.

The focus of the series has understandably been on the heroes of The Skywalker Saga, but the ongoing story of the cyborg bounty hunter, Vallance, and his connection to Han Solo has been a truly compelling one. Finally seeing this play into a narrative which, despite not actually featuring him, is all about Han pays true dividends here. Seeing Vallance and Dengar tussle with Boba Fett is a punch-the-air moment, especially as it is depicted in the dynamic style of Luke Ross and the bright, characterful colours of Neeraj Menon. This title is where the disparate parts truly come together, not just from a narrative perspective, but visually also, as the approach to every character is brought under the umbrella of one incredibly skilled team.

Like all the best final acts of any Star Wars story, this lead-up to the conclusion jumps between sets of characters at the drop of a hat, whilst keeping the reader engaged with each thread of the events. Soule is the master of the balancing act – between swathes of characters all in different places, in altogether different situations, and between plot and pace. The plot drives forward inexorably and without any awkwardness or ham-fisted exposition, yet action and fun are still placed firmly at the forefront. This issue goes from the aftermath of the Scoundrel’s Ball to the surface of the planet Jekara, to the depths of space filled with swarms of ships in the blink of an eye without missing a beat. Soule’s impressive pacing must be a challenge for any artist, but it’s one that Ross and Menon rise to with aplomb, imbuing every distinct scene with oodles of charm.

All this flitting about leads to a corker of a final page, which sets the stage for an epic final battle as various chickens come home to roost, with major implications for the final throes of the narrative.


VERDICT

As the core mini-series of this massive event nears its conclusion, it’s great to finally see some more major players enter the fray as things hot up for a final showdown that’s bound to pop right off the page. After many, many issues across 5 titles, the majority of the pieces are in place thanks to Soule’s continued uncanny ability to perfectly blend plot and fast-paced action. Roll on issue 5!


Review by Nathan Harrison 25/9/21

This Month’s 10 Hottest Pre-Order Picks From WowComix.com!


Whether you’re looking to get a head start on your Christmas shopping a little early this year, or for some exciting new comics, graphic novels or action figures to add to your collection, here at Wow Comix we have a mountain of awesome new items currently available for pre-order! We’ve put a small list together of some of our personal favourites, featuring new products from well-known publishers and brands alongside a few things you may not have seen before. So if you’re in the mood to treat yourself or a loved one but you’re not too sure where to start, keep reading for some of this winter’s hottest (or should that be coolest?) new titles and collectables!


10. Buffy The Last Vampire Slayer #1

Due to be released this December, Buffy is back as we’ve never seen her before!

Can a lone Slayer save what’s left of humanity?

Buffy Summers is the last Slayer. Now in her 50s, she wages a one woman fight against the forces of darkness, who prey on humanity in the daylight unimpeded thanks to a magical catastrophe that has nearly blotted out the sun.

The same disaster robbed Buffy of her friends and ended the Slayer-line, forcing her into an endless guerilla war. That is, until she stumbles across something she hasn’t seen in a long time – hope, in the form of a prophecy and the young girl who carries it.

The Multiverse explodes as writer Casey Gilly (Femme Magnifique, You Died) and artist Joe Jaro (Firefly) bring you a dystopian tale of Buffy Summers as you’ve never seen her before for fans of Wonder Woman: Dead Earth, Batman: Last Knight On Earth, and Future State: Wonder Woman.

https://wowcomix.com/buffy-the-last-vampire-slayer-1-08-12-21-dynamite-comic/



9. Attack On Titan Omnibus Volume 2

The latest collected edition from the massively successful Attack On Titan manga series, this outing sees the Survey Corps trying dangerous new tactics to reclaim their land from the human-devouring Titans!

It’s never been easier to attack Attack on Titan than with these new, giant-sized 3-in-1 omnibus editions! The Survey Corps develop a risky gambit – have Eren in Titan form attempt to repair Wall Rose, reclaiming human territory from the monsters for the first time in a century. But Titan-Eren’s self-control is far from perfect, and when he goes on a rampage, not even Armin can stop him! With the survival of humanity on his massive shoulders, will Eren be able to return to his senses? This omnibus includes volumes 4-6.

https://wowcomix.com/attack-on-titan-omnibus-volume-2-08-12-21-kodansha-graphic-novel-tp/


8. Devil’s Reign #1

Kingpin (AKA Wilson Fisk) has gone from crime boss to mayor of New York and his new-found political power (coupled with his rather large evil streak) could lead to the downfall of our favourite Marvel superheroes!

The story that’s been building for years is here! Wilson Fisk went from Kingpin to mayor of the biggest city in America and is going to bring his full criminal and political power to bear on the super heroes who call NYC home. The man who once destroyed Daredevil has set his sights on The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and more. And since it’s Fisk, once he takes them all down, you know he’s going to sign it.

CROSSBONES! TASKMASTER! TYPHOID MARY! SHOCKER! WHIPLASH! RHINO! KRAVEN! Fisk has an ARMY of super villains at his command—and this is just his opening salvo. For years, Fisk has waited for his time to strike, and YOU WON’T BELIEVE the aces he’s got up his sleeves!

https://wowcomix.com/devils-reign-1-01-12-21-marvel-comic/



7. Star Wars: The Vintage Collection Clone Wars Aayla Secura Figure

A fan favourite from the Clone Wars animated series, here’s Jedi Knight Aayla Secura complete with robe and lightsaber!

Celebrate the legacy of Star Wars, the action-and-adventure-packed space saga from a galaxy far, far away, with premium 3.75-inch scale figures and vehicles from Star Wars The Vintage Collection. Figures feature premium detail and design across product and packaging inspired by the original line, as well as the entertainment-inspired collector grade deco that fans have come to know and love. (Additional products each sold separately.  Subject to availability.)

A cunning warrior and Jedi Knight during the rise of the Clone Wars, Aayla fought alongside Clone Commander Bly on many exotic battlefields

Featuring premium detail and design across multiple points of articulation inspired by Star Wars: Clone Wars, this collectible Star Wars The Vintage Collection 3.75-inch-scale figure makes a great gift for Star Wars fans and collectors.

https://wowcomix.com/star-wars-the-vintage-collection-clone-wars-aayla-secura-figure-01-04-22-hasbro/



6. Disney’s Stitch: Stitch & The Samurai Volume 1

Whilst on the run from galactic authorities, loveable alien Stitch finds himself mistaken for a tanuki and taken under the wing of a Samurai Warrior!

While fleeing the Galactic Federation, Stitch’s spaceship malfunctions and he makes an emergency landing… not in Hawaii, but in sengoku-era Japan! Discovered by the brutal warlord Lord Yamato and his clan, Stitch’s incomparable cuteness is no match for the battle-weary samurai, who decides to bring the “blue tanuki” home with him. Will Stitch’s love of chaos turn into a formidable advantage for the samurai’s influence? Or will his cute and fluffy form disarm the noble lord’s stern facade?

https://wowcomix.com/disneys-stitch-stitch-the-samurai-vol-1-10-11-21-tokyopop-graphic-novel-tp/




5. Swamp Thing: Green Hell #1

New from author Jeff Lemire and artist Doug Mahnke comes a DC Black Label gore-fest straight from the swamp!

The Earth is all but done. The last remnants of humanity cling to a mountaintop island lost in endless floodwater. The Parliaments of the Green, the Red, and the Rot all agree: it’s time to wipe the slate clean and start the cycle of life over again. And to do so, they’ve united their powers to summon an avatar—one of the most horrific monsters to ever stalk the surface of this forsaken planet. Against a creature like that, there can be no fighting back…unless you have a soldier who understands the enemy. Someone who has used its tactics before. Someone like Alec Holland.

Of course, it would help if Alec Holland hadn’t been dead for decades…

Jeff Lemire—the author of the smash hits Joker: Killer Smile and The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage, along with the graphic novel that inspired the television sensation Sweet Tooth—returns to Black Label with one of the greatest artists in modern DC history, Doug Mahnke, in tow! Together they’ll unleash a gory, gruesome monster mash, where the fate of humanity rests in the hands of someone who isn’t human at all!

https://wowcomix.com/swamp-thing-green-hell-1-28-12-21-dc-comic/




4. Loki: Glorious Purpose Poster

Here’s one for fans of the hugely successful Disney + show, add a little mischief to your wall with this awesome Loki poster!

It’s time to embrace the true powers of Loki as you add this awesome poster to your home. Featuring the God of Mischief himself, this is sure to be the perfect way to show off your love for the future Marvel classic. Official merch.

https://wowcomix.com/loki-glorious-purpose-poster-31-12-21-pyramid-international/


3. Star Wars: Life Day #1

Inspired by the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, get into the festive spirit with Han and Chewie!

THE GALAXY’S FAVORITE HOLIDAY!

Happy LIFE DAY! Celebrate the galaxy’s favorite holiday with a collection of festive tales from all across the STAR WARS SAGA! Life Day is the last thing on HAN SOLO’S mind when he and CHEWBACCA find themselves outgunned and under fire. But Chewie won’t give up hope, remembering the lessons of Life Days past and present. As for Life Days yet to come… Well, they’ll have to survive the night first!

https://wowcomix.com/star-wars-life-day-1-17-11-21-marvel-comic/


2. Pokemon: Articuno Articulated 6 Inch Figure

An ice type Pokemon perfectly suited to the coming winter season, this new addition to the Pokemon select range is a must-have!

With more detail, more points of articulation, and more ways to play and display than ever, this 15cm super articulated Articuno is the perfect addition to any Pokémon trainer’s team! Every Select super articulated figure comes with 15+ points of articulation, high levels of detail, and a posing arm accessory so you can pose Articuno any way you’d like!

With authentic details that make this Articuno figure look like it flew right out of the Pokémon animated series, you can pose Articuno to recreate all of your favourite moments! Gotta Catch ‘Em All! Each sold separately.

https://wowcomix.com/pokemon-articuno-articulated-6-inch-figure-release-date-tbc-jazwares/



1. Absolute Doomsday Clock

Coming in 2022, the DC Universe meets Watchmen in this colossal-sized edition of the Doomsday Clock mini-series!

NOTHING EVER REALLY ENDS. The world of Watchmen collides with the DC Universe in a story that rewrites the past, present, and future of comics!

Doomsday Clock finally gets the Absolute treatment! Dr. Manhattan, a near-omnipotent being from the Watchmen universe, has been using his powers to rewrite the DC Universe–reshaping some heroes’ histories, erasing other heroes altogether, and playing with the fates of the good and evil alike.

But why? What does a godlike being from another world stand to gain from the DC Universe? The mystery remains, but now that our heroes know they’re being toyed with,what can they do to stop it? The clock is ticking…

From Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson, the critically acclaimed team behind Shazam! and Batman: Earth One, this collection includes the full groundbreaking 12-issue miniseries.

https://wowcomix.com/absolute-doomsday-clock-14-06-22-dc-graphic-novel-hc/


Darth Vader #15 Review


DARTH VADER #15
Reviewed by Nathan Harrison.
Written by: Greg Pak
Art: Raffaele Ienco
Released: 25/08/2021
Publisher: Marvel Comics

One of the bigger flaws with Disney’s expansion of the Skywalker Saga on screen with Episodes VII-IX was the feeling of everything being rushed. Many plot points that could have done with some expanding upon were introduced with very little in the way of explanation and simply brushed aside as unimportant (see ‘Somehow, Palpatine returned’). The same could be said for a number of characters who were given very little development and backstory. 

While he didn’t appear in The Rise of Skywalker as a living, breathing part of the action, Ochi of Bestoon falls firmly into this category, his existence simply used as a way of progressing what little plot the film offered. What we do learn about him, a Sith devotee and the killer of Rey’s parents, is enough to make him an intriguing prospect for further investigation, something that Greg Pak has taken on and delivered brilliantly since issue 6 of his run. And now, in issue 15, Ochi gets his time to shine, as ‘The Assassin’s Choice’ sees his faith and loyalty to Vader put to the test.

Such a story requires a slight gear shift, which is a little jarring – the events here take place before those of War of the Bounty Hunters #3, which was released first. Once this slight frustration is put aside, however, what we’re left with is an issue that manages to progress the plot of the WOTBH event, at least from Vader’s perspective, whilst also serving as a fun diversion from the wider arc. Pak balances this beautifully despite the blistering pace of the issue, just as he does the interactions between Ochi and Vader. Ochi’s motormouth, almost nervous energy plays so well against Vader’s laconic terror and yet they both show the same level of skill, the same number of reasons to be feared – it’s a partnership that pays dividends, so here’s hoping that Pak doesn’t separate them any time soon. If Ochi’s fate in Episode IX is anything to go by, he’ll certainly be making waves amongst the Sith for some time to come. 

Raffaele Ienco’s artwork is as solid as ever – his consistency across this run has been something to behold, as is his consistency across single issues when moving from static conversations to all out action. In a title whose two main characters both wear face covering helmets, Ienco shows incredible skill in still managing to convey a sense of each of them, lending the right emphasis to the dialogue in the reader’s mind, as if he were in fact showing the features underneath, whether it’s Vader’s stoic near silence or Ochi’s talkativeness he’s approaching. The action scenes virtually pop out of the page, giving an astonishing sense of movement to Ochi’s fighting style whilst also allowing each panel to be simple to follow and understand. So many artists can create fast, frenetic sequences that are so busy that the reader has to force themselves to slow down to take in the detail, to the detriment of the pace they are trying to convey – this is a trap that Ienco never falls into as the issue zips by with every nuance intact. 

Every panel is eye-catching and the colours by Jason Keith gel wonderfully with Ienco’s lines, his use of various shades of red creating a cohesive look for the whole issue, whether Pak is progressing the plot or taking the reader into the heat of battle. 


VERDICT

Further insight into the relationship between Darth Vader and Ochi of Bestoon is expertly mixed with high stakes action to create an issue that simply has everything, right down to the stunning final splash page that seems designed to finally cement these two characters as an unstoppable duo. 


Reviewed by Nathan Harrison.


Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #3


STAR WARS: WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS #3
Reviewed by Nathan Harrison

Written by: Charles Soule
Art: Luke Ross
Colours: Neeraj Menon

Released: 18/08/21
Publisher: Marvel Comics

We have a saying here in Britain – ‘you wait ages for a bus and then two come along at once’. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but you get the idea. The same can be said, it seems, for unexpected but fun as hell fights in Star Wars comics, as Charles Soule and Luke Ross pack this latest issue with not one but two scraps for the ages.

Last issue saw Leia, Lando and Chewbacca almost quite literally bump into Boba Fett, teasing what promised to be one hell of an interesting collision of worlds. What follows here more than delivers on that cliffhanger, with everyone’s favourite Wookie facing up against the infamous bounty hunter. Across only a handful of panels, Ross delivers what must have been many a fan’s dream brawl for years, with Chewie egged on by a vengeful Lando.

But it’s not just the fight that makes this moment so wonderful to behold. The way Soule can write a conversation between characters who have historically been at each other’s throats that convincingly brings them on to something like the same side whilst still maintaining what makes each of those characters who they are is uniquely impressive. Amidst all the chaos that we’ve seen, not just in the mini-series but across the whole event, it’s great to be reminded in no uncertain terms of what drives Fett and nowhere is this more evident than in this brief encounter with the heroes of the Skywalker Saga.

As for the other fight…well…that’s probably best not spoiled, but fans of the myriad twists, turns and surprises that Soule has crammed into the previous two issues will not be disappointed, and what transpires across the second half makes for some of the most dynamic and impactful panels of the series so far – and that’s saying something when the quality of the art has been so high throughout. Neeraj Menon’s colour work is something really quite special that deserves to grace the pages of many more of Marvel’s titles, and its pastels and neon perfectly compliment Ross’ semi-cartoonish approach.

Like the previous two issues, Soule leaves things on a doozy of a cliffhanger, which still has real impact despite what we know about the fates of the main characters. It serves as a fitting end to a pulse-pounding, gasp-inducing third part to this story, and with the events of this issue driving the plot forward at a fair old lick, even amongst all the action, things only look likely to get more and more intense from here on out.


VERDICT

Soule, Ross and Menon continue to be the perfect team to put this series together. The consistency on show here proves that they were the best choice to create the core of this story. 34 parts overall is a lot and while most of the issues released so far have been excellent, there is room for bloat in such a vast project, as if often the case with such massive, all-encompassing events. This fast-paced, fun and energetic centrepiece could not be further away from such problems and represents some of the finest Star Wars storytelling on the stands right now.


Review by Nathan Harrison

Star Wars #16 Review

STAR WARS #16
Reviewed by Nathan Harrison


Written by: Charles Soule
Art: Ramon Rosanas
Released: 18/08/21
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The doubt and fear that has plagued Luke Skywalker throughout this top-quality run finally comes to a head as he faces down the possibility of another showdown with Darth Vader at a crucial and climactic moment in the War of the Bounty Hunters event.

From the start of his time on Star Wars, Charles Soule has focused in on one of the key gaps that needs filling between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi – namely, Luke’s transition from the broken, defeated young man we see at the end of Episode V to the confident, formidable, powerful Jedi we see stride into Jabba’s palace when Episode VI kicks in. Soule’s exploration of the darker side of Luke’s psyche has been delivered in flashbacks that make the iconic scenes from Empire more horrifying and devastating each time they’re revisited, and that approach continues in issue 16 to wonderful effect, delivering a pay off that adds further to the corker of a cliffhanger that closed out War of the Bounty Hunters #3.

Luke really is put through the wringer this issue, with another dog fight to contend with on top of everything going on in his head – Ramon Rosanas again delivers spectacularly on this front, conveying a real sense of movement and speed that is really needed for such an essential piece of the Star Wars puzzle. Whenever enemy ships swarm and Rosanas is the one bringing them to life, expect fantastic results.

The action also briefly shifts to the events of the second half of the latest issue of the event’s mini-series (which Soule himself recommends should be read before Star Wars #16) as we see Leia, Lando and Chewie contend with the spiralling, chaotic events at the Crimson Dawn auction. Cutting between this and Luke’s escapades makes for a pacey read, flitting between a tense stand off at the auction with our heroes watching on, Luke’s dogfight and more horrific visions across large, eye-catching panels before culminating in a devastating conclusion that shows that Luke really has reached rock bottom.


VERDICT

The character development that Soule has been carefully and skilfully putting together since the first page of his first issue now helps to deliver a gut punch of an issue. It should be fascinating to see where Luke goes from here and what Soule does to bring him back from the brink.


Star Wars: 4-Lom & Zuckuss #1 Review


STAR WARS: 4-LOM & ZUCKUSS #1
Reviewed by Nathan Harrison 12/8/21

Written by: Daniel José Older
Art: Kei Zama
Colours: Felipe Sobreiro
Released: 04/08/21
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Much like Star Wars #15 before it, 4-LOM & Zuckuss #1 (at least seemingly for now) acts as a bit of a diversion from the main narrative of the War of the Bounty Hunters event that has been running through various Star Wars comics for the past few months.


While the earlier comic was a tense, nail-biting, white-knuckle ride of an issue, Daniel José Older’s approach is a much more light-hearted and humorous one which is no less refreshing. Could any less be expected from the man who brought us the Jedi affectionately known as Buckets of Blood in his work on The High Republic Adventures?

Insectoid bounty hunter Zuckuss and his lethal droid companion 4-LOM have proven surprising fodder for comedy in their appearances in the ongoing Bounty Hunters series and Older takes this even further with a truly madcap approach to his story, bringing in an almost Guardians of the Galaxy style sense of humour to proceedings. Heck, there’s even a raccoon-like creature with a penchant for removing limbs…

That’s not to say that this issue doesn’t have substance and depth – we see Zuckuss in a whole new light by the end of this issue and 4-LOM is certainly transformed, albeit in an altogether more out there, slightly terrifying way, wonderfully revealed in one of a number of Kei Zama’s splash pages. The Japanese artist’s lines are satisfyingly clean, creating a cartoonish feel when paired with Felipe Sobreiro’s dynamic colour work. A lot of this issue’s colour palette is on the darker end of the scale, but when brighter bursts are appropriate, Sobreiro makes the most of them, especially when blaster rounds start firing.

Deva Lompop, the new bounty hunter character introduced in the previous Jabba the Hutt one shot makes an altogether too brief appearance, although that does mean that the focus here is squarely on the title characters, which wasn’t quite the case with Jabba. That said, it would have been fun to see Older take on the character, as her anarchic presence seems like it would fit right within his wheelhouse.


VERDICT

4-LOM & Zuckuss #1 acts as a fun, exciting and somewhat bonkers side-line to the War of the Bounty Hunters, although no doubt the events of this issue will feed into the greater narrative at a later juncture. Older’s script is fast-paced and frenetic and the fun he’s had here is evident. And if the writer has fun, especially in a world like Star Wars, so does the reader. Those who haven’t had a chance to get into the wider event will have a tough job catching up at this point, but this issue stands on its own nicely and thoroughly entertains.


Review by Nathan Harrison 12/8/21


Star Wars #15 Review


Review By Nathan Harrison

Written by: Charles Soule

Art: Ramon Rosanas
Released: 28/07/21Publisher: Marvel Comics

Though it may be named after one small set of characters, The Skywalker Saga and stories set within it will always be ensemble pieces. Charles Soule’s approach to his run has truly embraced this, bringing on board a wealth of new characters, reintroducing some old ones and occasionally taking some time away from whoever has been the focus of the last few issues to show what’s going on elsewhere in the galaxy. #15 is one of these issues, as we wipe transition from the main action of the War of the Bounty Hunters to see what Starlight Squadron, with Luke Skywalker in tow, have been up to. And while this issue may carry the overarching event’s name on its eye-popping cover, the story here is mostly separate from it and acts as a nice palette cleanser before hopping back into the action with the next issue of the central mini-series as we near the halfway point.

While it may be an almost standalone story, ‘Friends and Enemies’, as issue 15 is known, is densely packed – a huge dogfight makes up a good chunk of its duration, yet it’s still full of well thought out dialogue and character moments as Luke relives the destruction of the Death Star and finds that lightning doesn’t always strike twice. Ramon Rosanas brings a frenetic feel to the battle and his layouts make for tense, fast-paced reading, almost as nail-biting as the famous trench run itself. 

Starlight Squadron continue to be an engaging and fun element of Soule’s run, bringing Wedge Antilles right to the foreground, where he deserves to be. Considering how many strong, memorable, and iconic existing characters form the core of this title, Soule has done an incredible job of introducing a whole crop of new ones and making the reader genuinely care about them. 

His role as a writer on The High Republic also continues to have an influence – hope is a key theme of the original trilogy, so giving little nods to a period where the Jedi were at the height of their powers fits right in with this. Also, fans of Soule’s High Republic novel, Light of the Jedi, will get a kick out of the setting of this story. It’s satisfying to see some of the newest parts of the canon intertwining with what has been in place for over 40 years.



VERDICT

TIE fighters vs. X-wings, a desperate rebel last stand and an explosive finale make for possibly the most breathlessly exciting issue of this outstanding run so far. Soule provides some outstanding character moments and fun action, and Rosanas provides one of the most balletic and intense dogfights ever committed to the page, with many of his panels in glorious widescreen. While they and the rest of the team across the current Star Wars titles may be excelling at telling a broad, sweeping story right now, this slight detour proves that this comic is in just as rude health when almost the whole story is contained in just a handful of outstanding pages.


Review by Nathan Harrison, 30/07/2021 


Darth Vader #14 Review


Reviewed by Nathan Harrison 28/7/21
DARTH VADER #14

Written by: Greg Pak

Art: Raffaele Ienco
Released: 21/07/21
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Darth Vader’s part in the so far very satisfying War of the Bounty Hunters event continues in this latest issue, with a shadowy plot from within the Empire itself finally revealed and Vader on a collision course with the rest of the major players in the crossover.

Following an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Vader, Administrator Moore returns to plotting with her council. The intrigue and conspiracy of the first half of this issue is nicely played out – Greg Pak’s dialogue is engrossing, especially in a short encounter between Moore and a suspicious Mas Amedda, which sees her get the upper hand in more ways than one. Shadows skirt around every panel and loom large in some against the muted greys and whites that make up the Empire’s favoured approach to décor. Artist Raffaele Ienco and colourist Jason Keith put every nook and cranny of each room to use, creating a foreboding sense of dread and unease.

The second half runs at an altogether different pace when Vader bursts back onto the scene, lightsaber blazing (after a brief appearance at the start of the issue). The greys are illuminated by vivid red and the imposing figure of Vader towers over it all in a couple of impressive splash pages. It speaks volumes about the true icon that Darth Vader is that he barely needs to say a word in his own comic to be the star of the show. That said, it can’t be an easy thing to do from a writing perspective and Pak handles it beautifully. He puts the right words in Vader’s mouth at the right time, and nothing more. When coupled with the imposing angles that Ienco depicts him from, the Dark Lord of the Sith remains just as terrifying as the first time he walked on screen in 1977.


VERDICT

As the various strands of the 34-issue tapestry that is War of the Bounty Hunters start to come together, it only gets more stunning to look at, and this issue is no exception. Seeing some of the events of issue 2 of the main mini-series from a different perspective makes for a nice touch, placing our hero (yes, we’re calling him that, it’s his comic – search your feelings, you know it to be true) right where he needs to be for the sparks to fly when the crossover truly kicks off over the coming month.


Review by Nathan Harrison 28/7/21

Star Wars: Jabba The Hutt #1 Review

Review by Nathan Harrison 27/7/21

Written by: Justina Ireland

Art: Ibraim Roberson and Luca Pizarri
Released: 21/07/21

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Since its launch earlier this year, The High Republic has proven to be the most exciting new Star Wars expanded universe initiative in a long time – Justina Ireland has also proven to be one its most talented contributors. Her middle-grade novel, A Test of Courage, was emotionally complex, touching, and full of the heroism and derring-do that was promised when the new era was announced. It’s fantastic then to now see her name of the front of a Marvel comic as part of an altogether different era of Star Wars.

Ireland grabs the opportunity to show her range by the horns as we see her take on the darker underbelly of the Star Wars galaxy – her approach to iconic characters like the sinister, snivelling Bib Fortuna, Boba Fett and, of course, the titular mob slug Jabba the Hutt is spot on, while her introduction of new bounty hunter, Deva Lompop, a badass, double-crossing feathered lizard woman, is impactful. She stands out as the real star of this book and is bound to do so again in her upcoming appearances in further one-shots. Any character who can effortlessly belittle a character like Boba Fett with amusing results is not to be ignored!

The approach to the plot is also skilfully handled. What initially appears to be a straightforward tale of bounty hunters on the job soon turns out to be the first hint of the back-stabbing intrigue that we could see in future instalments of the War of the Bounty Hunters event. Deva Lompop is the driving force behind this, but Ireland also shows how easily Jabba can pull the rug from under the feet of those in thrall to him – as much as Deva seems to be the sort of person who does whatever the hell they want, everything ultimately comes back to Jabba and a debt he is owed. This chink in Deva’s armour and her potential vulnerability makes her even more compelling, rather than her simply being a likeable but one-sided scoundrel.

Art is provided by Ibraim Roberson for sequences set in the main timeline of War of the Bounty Hunters, and by Luca Pizarri for flashbacks. Their styles differ enormously so the effect can be jarring when the action shifts from one timeline to another. Roberson’s lines are defined and dynamic, with every known element instantly recognisable and all new elements standing out as beautifully done. Every panel hums with detail. However, Pizarri’s art is not quite as accomplished, and a lot of the main characters are drawn in a rather odd way, Jabba especially – he resembles a giant bullfrog at points rather than the slug-like creature anyone would recognise. The proportions of Boba Fett’s distinctive helmet and armour are also a little off. That said, Pizarri’s art has a cartoonish charm of its own, which works best during the more action-oriented sequences.


VERDICT

One of Star Wars’ finest writers finally makes her debut at Marvel and does a stellar job in both having a lot of fun with characters we know and introducing us to one we don’t who is bound to have a bigger and bigger impact as the event continues. While the art can sometimes lack accuracy and there are no particularly interesting layouts, it’s hard to ignore the quality of the whole page panels dotted throughout that bring a sense of scale and drama to this intriguing and engaging character-driven piece.


Review by Nathan Harrison 27/7/21