Review: The Star Wars #4
✔ Beautiful art, as always.
✔ Lots a familiar faces.
✔ Enter Han Solo!
✘ A weak reveal towards the end.
✘ A shocking character redesign (or "pre design") may put some fans off.
Issue four of the original vision, birthed within the mind of George Lucas, picks up directly where the last left off. While approaching the Gordon Spaceport, Skywalker and company try to avoid, but then encounter a group of armoured emu riding Stormtroopers. After a quick confrontation they reach their destination in a hope to meet with the one smuggler who can quietly fly them off Aquilae. All the while we see that Vader and his newest allie, Prince Valorum, are keeping a close eye on our protagonists every move…
Now that Jonathan Rinzler has settled into this universe (this issue marking the halfway mark of the series), he appears to be having fun with the overall pacing. When it comes to action vs plot development, this month we are presented with a top heavy issue. Instead of the short bursts of excitement throughout the twenty five or so pages, we experience it all in the first few. This can be a risky approach to story telling, especially in the realm of fantasy, easily falling into a lull of interest. Rinzler manages to expertly execute this by introducing many new plot elements and keeping dialog snappy and light.
Towards the end we are given a half page splash that seems to jump right off the page. As shocking as it is, it feels a bit limp, as it involves a decision being made without really thinking about any alternatives to resolve the situation. For such a monumental consequence to happen, it reads a bit strange that our heroes would not stop for even a second to think around it. As odd as it seems, it no doubt will play a pivotal part in all the protagonists character arcs and the third act of the mini series.
The biggest takeaway for a majority of readers would with out a doubt be the Han Solo reveal. After his name being teased over and over throughout the previous issues, we finally get to meet the original incarnation of the character that would bring Harrison Ford into the spotlight. It is shocking reveal to say the least. We are presented with what more than resembles DCs Swamp Thing, with a dash of a Ninja Turtle thrown in. Dressed in an all black tactical vest and pants, he provides a striking, and surprising image. His bright green skin brings a nice contrast to the light and dark tan colours the majority of characters are robed in. From his reveal we get a lot of dialog from Han, and a good feel for his personality. From his first line, he shows a friendly and outgoing disposition, greeting Skywalker with open arms (indicating they are old friends). We also see his serious side, as he, with the others, plan the next course of action during the later half of the issue. From what we are shown, he seems to be written as the typical comic relief, but given we have that from both the droids already, hopefully his light heartedness will not take over too much.
I was not a great fan of Mike Mayhews work when I read issue one, but now I think I just did not “get it” at first. His stylized encapsulations of this Star Wars tale leaves me astounded on near to every panel. Although Mayhews work benefits most with the expansive landscapes that have so far filled the previous issues, even the more claustrophobic indoor settings that make up the last half of this months panels while not as eye catching, still retain an amount of detail that puts a lot of current artists to shame. We see some memorable C list characters from the movies pop up in slightly altered roles, such as Greddo strategising with the protagonists. Whether this was part of Lucas’s script, or just added in at Mayhews whim, it’s a fun nod to what was to come, without being over the top and taking you out of the actual story at hand.
Now we are at the halfway point, the outcome is slowly starting to take form. Book four is solid read, and a good place to decide whether you’ll see this plot out to the end. With artwork as captivating as always, and a newly assembled team (of sorts) made up of fun characters, Rinzler and Mayhew are doing themselves proud!