Review: Star Wars #28

I decided to review a comic from last week, having a day off from my day job and feeling the need to earn my keep around here. Looking around, I found the latest issue of Star Wars, a little disappointed that Stuart Immonen wasn’t doing the interior art, but willing to give Larroca a chance. I recognize the name but couldn’t place a major project I remembered him from, not having read a lot of his work on any of the other Marvel titles.

STAR WARS #28

Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciller: Salvador Larroca
Cover Artist: Stuart Immonen
Rating: Rated T

Master Yoda finds himself overpowered and captured! Imprisoned within the caves, the master must become a student once more. Plus…Ben and Luke feel the ripples of the Jedi Master’s tale!

Review:

At the heart, the story has a possibly major contradiction. This story takes place before the events of Return of the Jedi, but in reading Obi-Wan Kenobi’s journals, Luke learns of the adventure of Yoda. It couldbe argued that Luke had no idea that Yoda existed prior to Obi-Wan’s spirit instructing him to go there. However, it can also be argued that Luke merely read about Yoda, and either considered him a myth, or that Obi-Wan’s journals gave no indication that Yoda was still alive. It’s a possible contradiction, but easily rationalized away.

The story itself seems very much like an interlude even with the context given by the “opening crawl” on the first page. A Yoda story told in the period between episodes 4 & 5 has to a framework for it to make sense. A further flashback to Obi-Wan on Tatooine really is pressing for context. I don’t know that I completely care for it, but in the telling, it is good. Luke’s characterization is spot-on, with him learning no lesson from the story, just that he may have found a way to finally become a Jedi. This makes Yoda’s characterization in The Empire Strikes Back all the more accurate and based on more than his time growing up on Tatooine. This is an admirable effort to incorporate a tale from before A New Hope into the comics. It is also, for the most part, successful.

The artwork by Salvador Larroca is the biggest problem. He can tell a story well enough, and is capable enough to render what needs to be rendered. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be able to render a human likeness without tracing reference. With a Star Wars comic, a casual reader expects it. His choice of reference is noticeable for how universally recognizable it is. In writing this review, I remembered that I once wrote a review for New Universal where he obviously modeled actors from Lost, at a time when the series was in the public zeitgeist. He does it here with a stranger that Obi-Wan encounters, all the while, not getting Obi-Wan’s likeness from either Ewan MacGregor, who would need to be aged to match the timeline, or Alec Guinness, who would need to appear younger. It’s not bothering me that he can do better than obviously tracing reference photos, it’s that he doesn’t seem concerned with getting better, given that this is an issue with his art that has existed for years.

As with most comics, it’s that art that carries the tough burden of keeping the reader engaged. Recognizing photo reference snaps me out of that engagement. All that being done, in a Star Wars comic, I want Luke Skywalker to look like Luke Skywalker. Unfortunately, I don’t want him to look exactly like stills from the films, and the stills that are the most remembered and iconic shots. The artwork could be the best part of this book, but with Larocca tracing instead of working to incorporate reference with his own style, it’s distracting.

Rating: 6 (out of 10)