In July of last year Marvel announced that the Star Wars comic series would get a new creative team in Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca, the writer and artist that previously penned Marvel’s Darth Vader. The reboot kicked off in early November with “The Ashes of Jedha” arc. We’re five issues in now, and things seem a little ... off.
I’ve only been reading comics regularly for a few years now, so you tell me: Does this look right to you?
I know that not every panel in every comic should be held to an unreasonable standard of quality, but the work in “The Ashes of Jedha” is very irregular. Check out these stormtroopers from a few issues back.
They look just a bit stiff, for one, and the proportions of the helmets and the blasters are really all over the place. I’m sure that it’s tremendously difficult working with such iconic images as these, but it’s jarring to see work like this coming to print.
I know that the pace of making comics is grueling, something like a page-a-day for writers and artists both. But the first five issues have included more than a couple of speed bumps for me. I’ve read pretty much every Star Wars comic since The Force Awakens came out in theaters and it’s common to see things like the rules of perspective and proportion break down from time to time. That’s especially true when artists are dealing with smaller objects or smaller frames within a page. But the uneven quality of the last five issues of Star Wars have really taken me out of the story.
It’s all fine and good for an artist to shop for iconic images from the films and riff on those in an adjacent medium, but it feels to me like some of the expressions here are ripped right out of those films.
I mean, that’s Harrison Ford leaning in to talk with Sir Alec Guinness in the Mos Eisley cantina scene, right? Are we discussing “Imperial entanglements” here, or am I crazy?
Take, for instance, the fantastic work being done on the Poe Dameron series. Angel Unzueta and Arif Prianto are doing amazing work together, and have really taken the quality of the series up a notch from where it was in the middle of last year.
Their work on an older Princess Leia is familiar, but at the same time fresh. You feel like you’re looking at Carrie Fisher in these frames, but you’re seeing her doing something she’s never done before in any of the films. The work being done in the main Star Wars series feels like the exact opposite of that.
On the other side of the coin, the narrative of “The Ashes of Jedha” arc is top notch. The bulk of the action has taken place on Jedha itself some weeks or months after the test firing of the first Death Star as seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The planet is dying, and the rebels are doing what they can to keep the population alive.
Not only are they making excellent use of Rogue One’s throw away characters like Benthic “Two Tubes” and the planet’s religious pilgrims, but they’re using them to tell a compelling story. That’s something that not even Rogue One was able to do within its full run-time.
Since its first issue, Marvel’s Star Wars has seemed more concerned with fantastical set-pieces and off-the-beaten-path storytelling. “The Ashes of Jedha” arc is an attempt to fill in the gaps between films and, in my opinion, it’s succeeding. My only hope is that the art evens out as the team catches their stride.