Jedha has more secrets to reveal.
There may not be a Marvel book more frustrating in its inconsistency than Star Wars. Story-wise, the series has been reinvigorated by the debut of new writer Kieron Gillen and the effort paid to linking the events of Rogue One to the larger saga. But all that good work is being hindered by the garish artwork. You simply can’t have a great comic without great art, and that seems to be a hurdle this series can’t overcome in 2017.
There’s plenty of compelling characterization to go around in this latest chapter. Luke is busy being exposed to the darker side of the war against the Empire as he teams up with Benthic and learn how the Partisans do business. Han shows a more sensitive side for a change as he coaxes the Millennium Falcon into performing past her limits. And perhaps most intriguing of all, Leia reflects on her late father and their final encounter before she made that fateful trip aboard the Tantive IV. All of this speaks to the great strength of Marvel’s Star Wars comics. They may not affect the status quo of the larger franchise on the same level the old Expanded Universe books and novels did, but they add terrific new insight into the characters and relationships we thought we knew so well.
Not that Gillen isn’t showing ambition with this latest clash between Rebels and Imperials. The return to Jedha establishes a crucial puzzle piece in the build-up to Palpatine’s second Death Star. It also offers a fun way to integrate Gillen’s character Queen Trios and showcase a more human side of the Empire and its minions. In short, Gillen seems every bit as comfortable and assured on this book as he is on Doctor Aphra.
But none of this can make up for the poor visual presentation. If anything, the art quality only seems to be deteriorating. Artist Salvador Larroca and colorist Guru-eFX rely more heavily than ever on photo-referenced figures and movie stills. This might as well be a fumetti comic with thew ay nearly every panel seems plucked straight from the Star Wars films (or other random movies). Meanwhile, Larroca’s line-work is more spartan than ever. It’s telling that the only panels in this issue that do create a strong impression and avoid the Uncanny Valley effect are those that focus on the distinctive creatures of Jedha, not the human characters.