Pros: It’s an Image #1, was there any question whether or not this would be awesome? Other than knowing the high-quality Image Comics consistently pumps out, I had no idea what to expect from this issue.
Star Wars #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: John Cassaday
Colorist: Laura Martin
Before my review, let me give a rundown of the current Star Wars influences in my life.
Yesterday I finished Aaron Allston’s novel Conviction and read the first 300 pages of Christie Golden’s Ascension, books seven and eight of the Fate of the Jedi series that takes place 44.5 years After the Battle of Yavin (as shown in A New Hope). In these pages, Luke, Han, and Leia are parents and even grandparents to a whole new generation of Jedi. The Imperial Remnant, consisting of the various Empire groups scattered throughout the galaxy post-Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious, has joined forces with the Galactic Alliance (formed after The New Republic and consisting of a majority of the galaxy’s governments) and the reformed Jedi Order, led by Grandmaster Luke Skywalker. But it wouldn’t be Star Wars if everyone got along peacefully. Enter Abeloth and the newly expanding Lost Tribe of the Sith. Because of the “reboot,” these stories now take place outside of the official continuity; however, I highly recommend exploring more of the expanded universe despite this. While many of the books are not very good, there are specific series that I’d place right up there with the movies. For more information on which books to check out, comment below, and I will be happy to give you a list.
This morning as I ate breakfast, I watched the first episode of The Clone Wars season three on Netflix. Other than a select few episodes, this series is fantastic. From the superb animation to the themes of belonging, individuality, war, love, etc., this is a unique exploration into what I usually find to be the least interesting period in the Star Wars timeline. In a clash between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems (using The Grand Army of the Republic and The Separatist Droid Army, respectively) that began on Geonosis (Attack of the Clones), the war essentially leads to the formation of the Galactic Empire with Uncle Palpy as the head. Geared to both kids and adults (though often I feel it to lean more towards the latter), this series is a no-brainer for any Star Wars fan. Not to mention, The Clone Wars series is one of the few stories outside of the movies to remain in-continuity.
In celebration of today’s Star Wars #1 release, I’m wearing my Han Solo/James Bond shirt (click here for image).
Suffice it to say, I’m more than your average Star Wars fan.
So when I heard that Marvel, after Disney having bought the licensing, was preparing to release the first issue in a series taking place between the fall of the first Death Star in Episode Four and the Battle on Hoth in Episode Five when the Imperials strike back at the Rebel Alliance, I was excited…but also weary. Dark Horse tried its hand at covering this same period with Brian Wood’s title of the same name, but after the initial honeymoon stage, I quickly lost interest. In fear of it following the same pattern, I opened the front cover to Aaron and Cassaday’s Star Wars #1 reluctant but hopeful.
It took maybe 3.5 seconds for any reluctance to drain from my body, the void instantly filled with glee. Even though the Expanded Universe may no longer be canon, this story does not go out of its way to conflict with what came before. Instead, it nestles comfortably among the history, forever stitching itself in the fabric of the Star Wars Universe. As for what happened in the story, I would rather you experience it for yourself. As you may notice, several of the other NBC! writers will be posting reviews. I’m sure some of them will most likely reveal what happens in the 48-page issue, so look to them for spoilers. Just know that this Star Wars fan gives it his approval, and that should be more than enough.
Great moments can’t be planned. You can have all the pieces in place and think you have everything lined up but ultimately your creation is dependent on an inertia that you have little to no control over. In the beginning Captain Marvel looked like it was doomed to fail. Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick was predicting it would be canceled by issue six and the comic’s media initial response was a collective “meh” upon it’s inception. But Captain Marvel tapped into something that nobody saw coming, it gained a momentum that nobody could have predicted and now with it’s final issue before it’s relaunch this book has blown away every expectation as it stands in the rare air of Marvels A-List solo titles. This Carol Danvers starring Captain Marvel comic by DeConnick and frequent artist Felipe Andrade is shifting the comic book landscape for female Super Hero’s and issue seventeen is a fantastic celebration of that.
One of my best friends is an aspiring screen writer. We’ve often talked about different idea’s we’ve had for movies and on my end comic books. Recently he approached me about writing our own superhero comics and how we would each write our own seperate hero in a shared universe. I was skeptical, the markets proven that most superhero idea’s have been done already. Successful creator owned work has covered a lot of different genre’s over the years but new superhero’s hasn’t really been one of them. We’ve seen Mark Millar spend over a decade trying to create a new superhero universe that rivals the big two to no avail while Brian K Vaughan, Robert Kirkman, Brian Wood and Ed Brubaker have reached unparalleled success doing creator owned comics that had little to nothing in common with traditional superhero comics. Sometimes a revelation appears where you least expect it and whenever your about to say “it can’t be done” it’s almost inevitable that it can and will. So I’m happy to say I was wrong because Battling Boy is a fantastic new Super Hero story from star creator Paul Pope and it’s a comic that rests within the traditional superhero narrative while completely re-configuring it to fit Pope’s unique vision. It is the first time in a very long time that I can remember reading a new traditional super hero story that was as exciting, fresh and well done as the genre can be.
Overview: With the third issue of Loki: Agent of Asgard we are treated to a journey into the past, where our boy Loki laughs in the face of the butterfly effect and starts messing with history. As always, he’s pulling strings and manipulating others for the sole benefit of himself. What makes this issue really special though, is that it’s where we get a genuine sense of the talent that is the Al Ewing/Lee Garbett/Nolan Woodard creative team, and an example of how awesome this series can be.
****THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS****
Story: Wow, I was really impressed with this issue. The first two worked well to set up the world of Loki’s new position as a spy for the All-Mother, but this issue took things to another level. After last issue’s finale where old evil Loki returned, we are ushered with him to the past, where we meet young Odin as a prince. Loki makes fast friends with his future father, and joins him on his journey through the Asgard of yore. Without going into too much detail, Loki uses his silver tongue and strategic mind to gain the trust and a favor out of the future All-Father, and also manages to satisfy his ulterior missions along the way.
Al Ewing does a wonderful job of providing both the narration of the story–depicted beautifully by Clayton Cowles on scroll-shaped caption boxes–and dialogue full of brevity for the returned evil Loki. He did a fine job the first couple of issues with-reformed Loki, but he really shines here with evil Loki manipulating his way through every person or obstacle he encounters. From getting Odin on his side and indebted to him, to convincing a family to forgo the revenge they rightfully desire; Loki operates like a conductor, with a complete and firm grasp on the orchestra he is in charge, delivering an entrancing song. Ewing shows the same aplomb as his character through his plotting. In essence this issue is four stories in one. Loki using Odin to get his way, manipulating the Innkeeper’s sons and Andvari the dwarf, using Sigurd’s hubris to attain something of value, and lastly securing said item for his future self. This could all become incredibly convoluted in lesser hands, but Ewing transitions adeptly from one phase to the next delving deeper into Asgardian lore along the way.
Transitioning from the main thread we are then regaled with some insight into the family operating the Inn of Hriedmar, and their plight after Loki and Odin depart. Next we get a short jaunt with Sigurd The Glorious, whom I don’t think we’ve seen the last of either. The beauty is, that new and old readers alike will enjoy this story just the same, no previous knowledge outside this title is required, but possessing it just improves the experience.
Art: Lee Garbett and Nolan Woodard do a fantastic job visualizing this complex tale for us, from layouts and action, to facial expressions and character designs, the mood and tone of the art is a perfect match for the story being told. Garbett’s style fits the medieval-like setting of Asgard very well, and he does a fine job with informative layouts; providing the necessary details in a collage style that tells the story and is compositionally pleasing. It feels as though we’re witnessing a story occur instead of reading about it, with each page flowing into to the next, and the panels designed so that navigation is intuitive. The colors by Woodard work to compliment everything Garbett has drawn up. No matter the setting, Loki appears cast in shadows more so than the other characters, which I thought was a nice touch that added visual subtext.
Conclusion: I enjoyed this book very much, it raised this title up from a comic that I was enjoying, to a story I’m very excited for the future of. The creative team seems to have settled in, and is now ready to take us all on an epic journey with our favorite God of Mischief. I hope future issues continue to play with continuity and deal with the more fantastical realms outside of Midgard, because I think the creative team has a knack for this style of story, and I want them to continue to spread their wings. If the first two issue of this title left you on the fence, then I think you shouldn’t hesitate to jump right into this. I think it could be the start of something special in the All New! Marvel universe. So what did you guys think of this issue? Let me know in the comments.