All For the Wookiee: The Star-Warsiest Moments In Last Month’s Star Wars Comics
Welcome back to All For the Wookiee, where we take a look at the recent Star Wars universe offerings from Marvel and pick the most Star Wars-ish moments. This time around, we've got Lobots, revenging Sith, crime pixies and Jedi Batmans. It's a real good time.
In this installment, we take a look at Lando #1 by Charles Soule and Alex Maleev, Darth Vader #7 by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca, the final issue of Mark Waid and Terry Dodson‘s Princess Leia miniseries, and the third issue of Kanan: the Last Padawan, from Greg Weisman and Pepe Larraz.
As usual, spoilers follow. You have been warned.
MOMENT I: The Art of the Con (Lando #1 of 5)
Here's the thing: Lando is the best. He's a scoundrel, a gambler, a con artist and an opportunist, but in the end, he just wants to do what's right, even if his definition of "right," means "selling out your old smuggling buddy to the super-cyborg with the laser-sword." In Empire Strikes Back, he's a guy who does the wrong thing for the right reason, and judging by the way he throws himself into both finding Han and embracing the Rebellion's cause --- enough to have earned the rank of General by the time Return of the Jedi rolls around --- he's a guy who believed in redemption and making things right.
Charles Soule's dialogue in this opening scene nails this completely. Lando, who's been running a con on a local Imperial magistrate, can't bring himself to ruin her reputation as a tough customer by stealing this sphere thing from her, so he does the most honorable thing a con man who's going to steal from a lady he's been honey-potting can do: he tells her the truth.
It's a great scene that cuts to the heart of the character without coming right out and saying it, and Alex Maleev and colorist Paul Mounts sell the scene with some lovely coloring. I'll get into it a little later, but I'm not 100% convinced Maleev's the right artist for the story Soule's telling, but this scene feels kind of perfect with the lithe, watercolor-y lines and the yellow hue Mounts adds to everything. Also, Lando's vest is baller as heck.
MOMENT II: I, Lobot (Lando #1 of 5)
Lobot! In Empire, Lobot is Lando's right-hand man. He has maybe one line of dialogue, if that? Even in the Expanded Universe, where Darth Vader's glove has a convoluted history, there's remarkably little backstory given to him. He's pretty much a cypher with a poofy-sleeved shirt and a cool cybernetic enhancement strapped to his head.
Well, hang on to your butts, cuz that's about to change. Soule and Maleev flesh Lobot out a little, dropping that he received his enhancements at the Imperial Academy so he could act as a walking battle computer before he (presumably) took off with Lando to do space crimes. We also get a look at their relationship, with the two of them referring to each other as "brother," in the issue.
MOMENT III: This Deal Just Keeps Getting Worse All the Time (Lando #1 of 5)
So Lando is in deep with this Papa Toren guy who is a mumbling crime lord who has a bunch of little pixies who act as his mouthpiece. To reiterate: this comic has crime pixies.
This also reestablishes Lando's habit of making terrible deals with powerful beings. In this case, Papa Toren wants them to steal a ship owned by some Coruscanti art lover. No way this will blow up in Lando's face, right?
MOMENT IV: Getting the Band Together (Lando #1 of 5)
So what follows is essentially an Oceans Eleven-style "round up the usual suspects," montage, with Lobot and Lando gathering up people to help them pinch the ship. Here are "The Twins," two weirdo fighter guys who look like palette-swapped versions of the Avatar aliens.
We also get this guy:
Korin, an Ugnaught sava (basically a professor) of antiquities. You may recognize the Ugnaughts from Cloud City, where they served as a worker class on Lando's mining colony and also sometimes played catch with droid heads. I'm assuming Lando and Lobot are bringing him aboard to price out the antiques the ship they're stealing is reported to house.
I mentioned earlier that I wasn't sold on Maleev's art for this particular book, and these scenes sort of showcase why. While they're really effective from a technical standpoint, that mood is sort of muted and downbeat, whereas the situations are a lot more light-hearted and light. His "acting" isn't broad enough to convey a lot of what is a pretty fun script. It's not terrible, just not the most appropriate.
MOMENT V: Oops (Lando #1 of 5)
Surprising no one, that ship belonged to Emperor Palpatine and I can only imagine he won't be super-pleased with this development.
Again, there's where the atmosphere that Maleev's created sort of sabotages the story. These last couple pages, where Mas Ameeda --- the blue guy with the horns, he's The Emperor's Grand Vizier and head of the Imperial Ruling Council --- tells Palpatine about the loss of the ship, it feels appropriately heavy and forbidding. Unfortunately, everything else in the issue has felt kind of the same, with the exception of that opening scene with Lando and Moff Ssaria, so this doesn't land as hard. It's still beautiful! Just not as effective as it could be. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
MOMENT VI: "Only Imperial Stormtroopers Are So Precise." (Darth Vader #7)
So Vader, Doctor Aphra and the Killdroids have returned to Tatooine to find this Skywalker kid after Boba Fett delivered the name to Vader last issue. Vader by now has hatched his plan to train his Force-adept kid so they can take out the Emperor and rule the universe as father and son. The only problem is that he also ordered the deaths of the former owner of the droids who escaped from the Tantive IV after Vader boarded it in A New Hope. If you remember, the Stormtroopers who killed Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru were trying to make it look like it was a Tusken Raider attack, but Obi Wan, like Doctor Aphra, saw through that ruse pretty quickly.
MOMENT VII: Obi-Wan Kenobi --- Worst. Babysitter. Ever. (Darth Vader #7)
So after the Lars homestead, Vader and Aphra head to Old Ben Kenobi's hut and find the signs of Boba Fett and Luke's struggle. Vader CSI's his way through the Fett/Luke fight and pieces together that Luke is strong in the Force, but lacks discipline. And you know what? Vader's kind of right.
The idea of Kenobi being shortsighted enough to hide Luke on Vader's home planet has been picked clean by any nerd who ever did an open mic comedy night, (and actually, it makes a lot of sense to hide Luke there, especially if Obi Wan knew how much Anakin hated Tatooine), but this idea, of Obi Wan failing Luke by not training him in the 20 years he was watching over him, is a good one. I have a feeling we'll see a little more of this idea in the next issue of Star Wars, a one-shot issue focusing on Obi Wan's time on Tatooine, drawn by the always-impressive Simone Bianchi.
So, uh, watch this space for more about this, I guess?
MOMENT VIII: I Like Big Hutts And I Cannot Lie (Darth Vader #7)
So, Vader leaves Tatooine and heads to Son-tuul, where an unnamed Rodian crimelord has been holed up. Vader busts in with a cadre of stormtroopers, feeds the crimelord to his own huge rhino-looking monster, and then kills said rhino-looking monster. This works out well for the Hutts --- especially Jabba --- who will take over the territory. Jabba's lackey, Sutha, tries talking Vader into splitting the Rodian's massive horde of credits, but Vader shuts that down tout suite, sending the credits off in a shuttle.
Darth Vader is incorruptible --- or is he?
MOMENT IX: Night of the Hunters (Darth Vader #7)
CUT TO: a gathering of bounty hunters in some seedy bar. We have, from L to R: Black Krrsantan, the Wookiee bounty hunter and, apparently former pit fighter, who we met earlier in the run; IG-90, a red assassin droid from the same series as "classic" bounty hunter IG-88; Bossk, the Trandoshan bounty hunter first glimpsed in Empire Strikes Back; and Beebox, the diminutive guy in what appears to be Mandalorian armor.
What brings these creeps and lowlifes together? Why, it's Doctor Aphra, who has a job for them: steal an Imperial shuttle loaded with a Rodian crimelord's ill-gotten gains.
But what's this?! Is Aphra going behind Vader's back? Given how loyal and obedient she's been to him, I doubt it, which means she's working under his orders in an effort to pull together some scratch to wage his shadow war against The emperor? Is this the "certain mission," Gillen mentioned in his recent "Vader Down" interview with us? I don't know! Maybe!
MOMENT X: Princess Leia Finally Does Something Cool (Princess Leia #5 of 5)
The final issue of Mark Waid and Terry Dodson's Princess Leia shipped and, well, that certainly was a comic book. I was hoping this scene, where Leia springs her trap on the Imperials who think they're taking her hostage, would turn the miniseries around after four issues of, well, pretty much nothing interesting happening, but no, not really.
All the stuff you thought would happen issues ago finally happens: Leia manages to bring together all the disparate factions of remaining Alderranians with an inspirational speech that reads like it was written by a computer algorithm; this Remember the Titans speech "accidentally" gets broadcast to the group of Alderaanians who were reticent to join the main group and they band together to blow up the Imperial ships; Evaan finally admits that dammit, she respects Leia, and Leia sets her up as the new princess of Alderaan; Leia flies back to Han and Luke and Chewie and they all laugh and THE END.
I literally can't see the point of this book. Nothing interesting or noteworthy happens besides Alderaanians all getting back together again. There's no arc to Evaan that isn't telegraphed from the minute she tells Leia she doesn't like her. The side characters are all sock characters whose motivations are plain the minute they show up on the page. The only redeeming bit of it is that we got to see Jordie Bellaire's colors and Terry Dodson draw pretty people. Zero bags of popcorn.
MOMENT XI: "Evacuate? In our moment of triumph?" (Princess Leia #5 of 5)
Okay, I did like this Imperial Navy guy getting all cocky before his ship got blown up, but even that is sort of a retread of Grand Moff Tarkin's hubris before the Death Star got taken out by a snubfighter shooting a torpedo into an exhaust port. (That sounded dirtier than I intended.)
MOMENT XII: Okay, Also These Two (Princess Leia #5 of 5)
Nien Nunb and Evaan: I ship it.
MOMENT XIII: You Can't Go Home Again (Kanan #3)
So last issue, Caleb Dume (who has yet to take up the moniker of Kanan Jarrus) stole a ship belonging to intergalactic scoundrel Janus Kasmir and tried to head back to Coruscant. Only problem is that, just as he reverted from hyperspace, he got a message from Obi Wan Kenobi telling all the Jedi to stay away form the . And now we see why. He's greeted by a wing of ARC-170s, aka Aggressive ReConnaissance-170 starfighters, piloted by clone troopers who have now been overwritten by the Order 66 code, an implanted sleeper order to annihilate the Jedi when triggered by the Emperor.
MOMENT XIV: Jedi Batman Jr. (Kanan #3)
With Coruscant out of the question, Kanan heads back to the planet Kaller, where he runs into Janus, who is not all that keen on having his ship stolen by some Jedi kid. Caleb tries to tag along with him, but Janus isn't having any of that, kicking the kid out. So Caleb does what any unaccompanied minor would do: he starts patrolling the city, foiling criminals. Here he is saving Janus from getting jumped by a bunch of street toughs.
You heard it here first: Batmanning is what a Jedi would do if he were slumming. Take that, Sims.
MOMENT XV: Honor Among Thieves (Kanan #3)
So, Janus reluctantly takes the kid in, giving him a new wardrobe, haircut and some on-the-job training as a petty thief. Until things go a little wrong. Then he's all about turning the kid over to the authorities for the reward. Some people, right?
So yeah, Kanan is a lot of fun. If you liked Clone Wars and Rebels, and are getting hungry for more after that baller season 2 premiere, this is a good substitute. Also, how great is Pepe Larraz at pretty much everything? Not only can he draw the heck out of some starfighters, but his figures are lithe and kinetic, his aliens are interesting and varied, and his "acting" is expressive and subtle. Pick this book up for the art alone.