Monday, 1 July 2013

Edison Rex, Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Smugger's Code reviews

A superhero. His arch-villain nemesis. What if the nemesis defeated the superhero - would the villain be satisfied? Or would he become the hero himself? 

I know what you’re thinking - that’s the premise for the 2010 film “Megamind”. And you’re right, it is. But the similarities don’t stop there. Chris Roberson doesn’t have a single original idea so he just rips off other stuff, mostly from Marvel and DC Comics, to create a book that’s blandly like every other superhero analogue book - minus a new spin on things. 

Valiant is the superhero and is exactly like Superman, even down to the origin of the dying planet, etc. Edison Rex, his villain nemesis and unlikely hero of the book, is exactly like Lex Luthor. He’s a human scientist, extremely intelligent, hell bent on destroying the alien he believes is a threat to his planet and people. 

The similarities continue! Once Edison Rex disposes of Valiant in a kinda funny/silly Silver Age comics way, Edison becomes the hero and fights a series of ripoffs, sorry parodies, sorry - homages? - of famous creations. Sven the Nuclear Norseman is Silver Age Thor who was also a weak human called Donald Blake. Cerebella is kind of like Ultron. Defiant is Bizarro. Platypus Rex is reminiscent of the Guardians of the Galaxy animals as badass heroes with guns motif. The Multiverse. A Galactus/Brainiac hybrid. Fortress of Solitude type place. There’s even an alien chick with a lightsabre thrown into the mix!

Kurt Busiek writes the intro almost like an apologist for this kind of flip-flammery hack writing, saying that everything in fiction is a ripoff of something else and that soon the thing that you think is a ripoff becomes its own thing and spawns other imitators. To which I respectfully disagree - this is a mindless ripoff of Superman and superhero comics in general that isn’t its own thing, its just a ripoff.

It isn’t even entertaining. Chris Roberson is a mediocre writer at best and Edison Rex is a good example of the kind of competent but uninteresting style that he usually writes. After a while I was just waiting for the book to end rather than interested to see what it would do next. 

The one good thing here is the art. Dennis Culver’s art is fantastic, almost too good for this half-assed story, and Stephen Downer’s colours really brought the drawings to life. But that’s it for this comic - good art, crap story, dull writing, no ideas. Maybe I’ve read too many Superman analogue stories, maybe it’s because I’m not that big a fan of Silver Age superhero comics to appreciate all the references, but I found Edison Rex to be an utterly underwhelming and boring read.

Edison Rex


When Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka take some time off and go to Wielu, a beach resort-like planet, to relax, Obi-Wan sees a face from his past. T'Mott Zoat was a criminal that got away from him after killing his friend 20 years ago, but this time Obi-Wan won't let him get away again! Along the way he meets a smuggler, Rook Pryce, to help him navigate the treacherous and criminal landscape of the paradisiacal Wielu.

Set sometime during Season 4 of the Star Wars TV show The Clone Wars, The Smuggler's Code is a fairly decent Star Wars comic with everyone's favourite character, Obi-Wan, as the lead. The story is well-paced and has a few decent twists and turns, including some interesting additions to the Star Wars Universe like saberfish - fish like narwhals with lightsabers for noses - and its never boring.

That said, the ending has the feel of an after-school special, and the writing, while competent, is never challenging with the book feeling like its aimed at younger readers. Eduardo Ferrara's art is fine, maybe overly cartoony in places, but fits the story well.

Rook Pryce was an interesting character, fitting into the established Star Wars world by wearing a Han Solo-esque jacket, possessing a weirdly proportioned Millenium Falcon-type ship, and betraying people left and right, adhering to the smuggler's code of the title, the rather banal and cynical motto "get paid, as much as possible". Though I did wonder if Obi-Wan had been paying attention to anything that happened to him in this book when he told Rook that he'd been helpful to him on his mission, when really he'd been anything but!

The Smuggler's Code is not a comic that's going to general comics readers much, but fans of the Clone Wars show and younger Star Wars fans will probably enjoy this light-hearted adventure a lot.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Smugglers Code

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