Monday, 4 May 2015

Star Wars #3 - Marvel Comics

STAR WARS No. 3, May 2015
This third instalment of “Skywalker Strikes” certainly seems to contain the “Star Wars pacing” which writer Jason Aaron has previously spoken about. Indeed the sheer speed of the action depicted within its twenty pages is breath-taking, as the reader is ‘scooped up’ into a pulse-pounding adventure which sees an AT-AT blasting away at Imperial stormtroopers in one magical panel and then Luke Skywalker gunning down more hapless elite foot soldiers of the Emperor on a 74-Z speeder bike in the next.

However as to whether the comic book’s narrative feels “like a continuation of the original film” is far more debatable. Certainly everything would seem “to flow seamlessly in terms of how the characters” look. Or rather there’s a definitive mixture of costumes and hairstyles from the conclusion of “A New Hope” and the beginning of “The Empire Strikes Back”. But the inclusion of such vehicles as the All-Terrain Scout Transport walker and the aforementioned “highly manoeuvrable” Imperial speeder, both extremely recognisable vehicles from “Return Of The Jedi”, badly jars with the American’s apparent desire to make the narrative “feel… like a direct sequel that could have come out in 1978, a year after the original [film].” Instead the Alabama-born author’s storyline appears to be more like an amalgam of George Lucas’ ideas from the entire initial motion picture trilogy… with a few nods, such as assault tanks and combat speeders, thrown in from other sources like “The Phantom Menace” and non-canon fiction.

Admittedly the destructive chaos such monstrous machines causes is “exciting and fresh”. Laser fire and explosions abound on almost every page, and where else would you find a stinging TIE fighter being brought down by the powerful weapons of an Imperial walker. But Aaron’s insistence on ‘mixing things up’ and replicating ‘famous scenes’ from the later movies with a subtle twist arguably spoils the ride. Luke, busily lopping off turrets and armaments whilst flying on a speeder, appears far too good with his lightsabre for a substandard padawan, but acts precisely as you would expect if this tale followed “Return Of The Jedi”, when he has mastered both the Force and energy weapon. The destruction of the (rebel) AT-AT by Darth Vader, who simply cuts away one of the mechanical beast’s legs with his laser sword also dissatisfyingly smacks of the writer simply copying an event which has already been seen before on the big screen.

Doubtless exhausted illustrating such devastating grandeur, John Cassaday’s pencils, though most definitely the highlight of Issue Three of “Star Wars”, still consistently ‘breaks the reader’s trance’ as a result of poorly depicting the likenesses of the trilogy’s lead actors. In particular the artist’s depictions of actress Carrie Fisher's facial features repeatedly appear dishearteningly incongruous with what he has drawn before. Whilst Mark Hamill's Luke suffers from the occasional bout of ‘Chibi eyes’. However the dynamic quality and energy with which the penciller imbues the battle of Cymoon One with cannot be overemphasised. You can genuinely feel the earth quake as the towering walker crashes to its knees, or hear the roar of engines as the Millennium Falcon speeds away into the sky as the Imperial weapon’s factory explodes.
The regular cover art of "STAR WARS" No. 3 by John Cassaday and Laura Martin

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