Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Star Wars #1 Review (Jason Aaron, John Cassaday)

It was probably the explosive teaser trailer for JJ Abrams’ Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens that appeared at the tail end of 2014 that helped, but it was announced weeks ago on several comics sites that Jason Aaron and John Cassaday’s Star Wars #1 was going to be 2015’s biggest selling single issue comic. Today when I went to two comics shops? Cleared shelves. And I know they were ordering in bulk! Jackpot, Marvel! 

Why the fuss? This is the flagship first Star Wars comic Marvel have published in years. Dark Horse held the licence for a long time before but, once Disney bought Marvel AND Star Wars, that licence was not renewed so on January 1st, 2015 Marvel became the official publisher of all Star Wars comics and they’re celebrating with a bumper first ish leading the charge. 

Set in between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the Empire is reeling with the destruction of the Death Star. Forced into working with anyone who has supplies, like the mob boss Jabba the Hutt, Jabba’s “envoy”, Han Solo, is sent to meet with the Empire’s negotiator, deep within enemy territory. But Han’s not alone - Luke, Leia, Chewy, the droids, and, of course, the Falcon are backing him up as they go up against the “negotiator”: Darth Vader. 

I’m not actually a huge Star Wars fan. I like the original trilogy just fine and I hate the prequels, but I’ve only read one Star Wars comic book before this and didn’t care much for it. Jason Aaron and John Cassaday though have made a fine start with Marvel’s new run and I liked this first issue! 

It starts the only way it could: “A long time ago in a galaxy, far, far away…”. Cut to double page spread of the STAR WARS logo, scrolling text, then cut to empty space, panning down to spaceship entering into shot. Classic. But this basically speaks to what we get in this first issue - it’s Jason Aaron ticking all the boxes that fans want to see.

Intro, check; original cast with original likenesses, check. Falcon, check, lightsaber action, check, Vader doing evil stuff, check, Leia kicking ass, check, Leia and Han bickering/flirting, check, AT-ATs, check, Threepio doing clowny stuff, check. I suppose this is expected because it’s set between the first two films so it can’t deviate too much, but it still felt kinda rote. 

There was one scene that made me instantly tense when the Empire officer told Han to go into a room for the negotiation - uh oh, this is like the opening scene of The Phantom Menace. Then R2 does some stuff that resembles a scene from the opening of Revenge of the Sith. Oh god, please no! Thankfully, those two moments are the only things that resemble those hated prequels. 

What I like best about John Cassaday’s art is the cleanliness of his panels. There’s no extraneous shit cluttering up the pages like the prequels where CGI nonsense was always filling in any space in the background. Here there’s lot of empty space to breathe with the focus rightly on the characters. 

Cassaday went big for this first issue and there’s full pages dedicated to the entrance of beloved characters Luke and Vader, and that battle scene between Vader and Chewy was awesome. Cassaday still favours dutch angles for establishing shots for some reason but otherwise I can’t fault his art. 

The plot is secondary to the introduction of the characters and is more concerned with immediately throwing them into action. There’s also not a whole lot here that’s unexpected (gee I wonder who the masked guards escorting Han could be?) but it’s a very enjoyable comic and a strong first entry in Marvel’s new Star Wars library. I can only imagine bigger fans of the franchise will be passed out frothing at the mouth by the end of this issue! 

This IS the Star Wars comic you’re looking for!

Star Wars #1

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