I’m on a bit of a Star Wars kick lately. When Disney released that image of the Episode VII table read I got all hopped up on The Force again; re-read Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, dug out my giant Making of Star Wars coffee table book and started to wade back into the Expanded Universe. Then the other shoe dropped, Disney declared that the EU as we know it is no longer canon, the e-book version of Darth Bane: Path of Destruction I bought has a “Legendary” banner slapped on the cover and the story I jumped into the middle of in Dark Horse’s Star Wars #17 is no longer happening as far as JJ Abrams is concerned.
It’s a unique situation.
But I’m a comic reader, so I’m used to retcons. And a good story is a good story no matter what.
Unfortunately, Star Wars #17 isn’t a particularly good story.
Since it’s the middle of an arc I jumped back two issues to get caught up on the story of Princess Leia’s wedding. In a search for a new Rebel base Leia has cut a deal with the ruling family of the planet Arrochar, she marries a Prince and the Rebels get a new home. The previous two issues have indicated that there’s something shady going on with the Arrochar… ians? Arrochars? Whatever. Either way you get the idea that they might not have the best of intentions. That starts to come to a head in this issue as Luke (whiny, still smitten with Leia) is almost assassinated at the hands of Arrochar’s elite Mountain Rangers. Back at the Royal Palace an Imperial probe droid is detonated by a sketchy royal advisor guy and Star Destroyers suddenly crash the party.
I don’t know if that recap read as exciting to you but the story comes off pretty boring. It’s a combination of writer Brian Wood’s generic dialogue and a pencil/inking style that I don’t enjoy from Stephane Crety and Julien Hugonnard-Bert. The big problem is that I’m not getting the distinct “voices” of these characters through their dialogue. The Luke of this specific time period (post A New Hope, still sort of a farmboy, doesn’t know he’s into his sister) isn’t translated well to the page. In fact Wood writes him as kind of an asshole. I guess it’s a way to go, but it doesn’t ring true to me.
It doesn’t help that Crety’s attempt at the character varies wildly. In some panels he sort of looks like Mark Hamill and in others he’s just a skinny white guy. It’s a problem that other characters suffer from too. It takes great skill to present a likeness of a famous face that makes them seem familiar without looking overly photo-referenced, and Crety doesn’t seem to have it. Most male characters have the same eyes and the same distrusting squint throughout the book. There’s a foreground extra on page 20 that looks like he’s been dosed by Joker Gas. Leia survives an explosion only to look kind of stoned. The storytelling and action is clear, but the book just isn’t that visually interesting. At one point, an X-Wing roars in to save Luke, but it almost disappears in one panel due to coloring and looks oddly sized in the next due to perspective. It’s an artistic choice that undercuts the whole scene.
Overall the book was mediocre, with uninteresting visuals accompanied by a lifeless script. It’s difficult to establish any tension or excitement when the characters' faces aren’t representative of their expected emotions and the dialogue veers between bland and cliché. If you need a Star Wars fix, there are plenty of better things to spend your money on.