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Star Wars (2015) #2 [Review]

starwars(2015)002Skywalker Strikes (part II)

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: John Cassaday
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Artists: Cassaday & Martin
Assistant Editor: Charles Beacham
Editor: Jordan D. White
Executive Editors: C.B. Cebulski & Mike Marts
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: April 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

On the surface, I’m not at all impressed with this issue. This is a #2, so it’s not the first issue, it’s not MY first issue, nor my first-issue-since-I’m-not-sure-when, and it reminds me that it’s just one chapter in an inevitable graphic novel/collected edition (I’m 99% certain it’ll get a shiny hardcover edition–possibly oversized if not a “premiere” edition).

On the surface, there’s not really a lot covered in this issue: Luke fights Vader; Han and Leia stomp around in a Walker; C-3PO is captured by the scavengers dismantling the Falcon; Though Han and Luke proved to be more of a threat than expected, Vader rallies and vows to personally deal with Luke.

The issue is mostly action, with a lot of little details to the fighting and such, to where if I tried to do a more detailed recap, I might as well write a “novelization” of the issue. The story itself is solid, with enough to the interactions to recognize the characters and get a feeling of authenticity that I definitely appreciate, feeling like this is truly stuff that (could have) happened between the films. Along with that authenticity, there’s an element of knowledge of stuff that comes later, sort of wink-and-a-nod toward stuff we as readers are assumed to know (but if one doesn’t “know” nothing is actually lost).

Visually, this is a strong issue…I definitely like Cassaday‘s work, though I can’t imagine getting more than one arc with it, for now (see above about the graphic novel). Still, taken in and of itself I like the art and have no real complaint…I flew through the issue without trouble being able to tell what was going on, and simply enjoyed the experience without anything in the art tripping me up.

But this isn’t the first issue, a first issue–it’s very much a second issue. While the opening page recap is good and reminds me of key stuff from the first issue, and I like the style, it’s also of necessity a bit briefer than I’d prefer. Having read the first issue, it works well; but trying to consider the recap and then this issue’s contents by themselves, the brief recap doesn’t quite work for me.

My lack of being impressed comes primarily from this not being a standalone issue as well as being able to “see” how it’ll fit quite well into a collected volume as part of a longer, continuous reading experience. Additionally, I can’t imagine many in this day and age actively seeking this issue and reading it without the context of the first issue.

That aside, the quality feels consistent from the first, though I don’t have that issue handy for comparison. If you enjoyed the first issue, and don’t mind (functionally) getting the graphic novel in 6 or so chunks, this is well worth getting. If  you missed the first issue and don’t already have an interest in seeking that out, I’d suggest waiting for the collected volume or such. With this being a $3.99 comic, I definitely do not recommend seeking out #2 as a one-shot/standalone thing.

Imperium #1 [Review]

imperium001Imperium I: Overture

Writer: Joshua Dysart
Art: Doug Braithwaite
Colors: Brian Reber & Dave McCaig
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Raul Allen
Editors: Alejandro Arbona, Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I’ve been looking forward to this, but on first reading found myself rather let-down. Consciously, analyzing, I can see it’s quite a good story. But this readily suffers from being only one PIECE of a singular, larger story. I read this in a mostly intentional “vacuum,” I’ve pointedly NOT kept up with spoilers, interviews, solicitations (other than seeing THAT an issue would be out), and all that, so where Harbinger ran 25 issues and ended to make way for the Harbinger: Omegas mini-series and now this…as well as Valiant in large part seeming to be moving toward limited-series over long-term ongoing stuff, I haven’t a clue if this is going to be a 4, 5, or 6 issue story; if it’s a mini-series or quasi-ongoing, or what. I see no “of X” with the number so would assume it may be an ongoing or at least a multi-arc/multi-volume series when it’s all collected…but most folks know what “they” say about “assume.”

There’s also a several-page insert in the middle of the issue, an Imperium Prelude, that I’d have to check recent not-yet-read Valiant issues I’ve gotten and keep an eye out in others this month to see if they have it, too. But its placement completely interrupted the flow of the story for me, taking me out of stuff and leaving me distracted more than engaged, and sent my mind toward thinking about other events, whether or not this is “just” an event, and so on. For this issue at least, I think that either should have been left out…or should have actually been placed at the beginning. Moreso, I think it should have been a separate piece altogether, perhaps a promo thing to be given out at comic shops as a 4-paged comic or such to promote this series. (I may even go so far as to rip it out of this issue and file it ahead of this in a box).

We open with Darpan, as an old man, traveling  about a clean, utopian future (well, to those of us reading this in 2015, anyway). He then finds his mine drawn back, and wakes in the present to realize he’d psychically experienced a lifetime in a “dream” projected from Harada. Harada gives Darpan and the others gathered a speech about how they must now adopt different tactics in bringing about the utopian vision he was granted by the Bleeding Monk. However, terrible things will need to be done to get to the end result…and that does not seem to sit well with everyone involved. Harada begins by staking claim to his own territory…putting himself at odds with the planet and the various different people–such as Aric, X-O Manowar–who will certainly come after him.

My initial griping above left aside, and “digging in” while thinking further on this issue, it IS a good issue and a solid start to a series. We’re shown a future, and then the present with people who want to move the world into that future vision. We’re introduced to several characters along with Toyo Harada himself and shown where they stand…undoubtedly some foreshadowing for coming conflict. And for whatever it might say about me personally, there’s both an authenticity to Harada’s end-goal and a part of me that would like to see him achieve it (as long as I don’t have to think too much about what he’ll have to do to get there).

If you’ve read Harbinger and/or Harbinger: Omegas, this is the next “phase” of the overall, ongoing story begun there. Despite that, as much as any such series is, Imperium #1 stands as a decently-accessible jumping-on point. You’ll benefit from the added context of reading Harbinger and Omegas, but you can jump into this pretty well by itself.

I like the art throughout the book…and thanks to the distraction from the placement of the prelude pages, I actually didn’t get distracted by the art itself or find anything really to complain about. It’s a high quality style, realistic without being overly so, plenty of detail over skimping…and quite familiar to me, having read other Valiant stuff with art from Braithwaite.

I’ve enjoyed Dysart‘s Valiant stuff and the “whole” of his stories tend to wind up larger than the parts. Paired with Braithwaite‘s art, this is one of the higher-quality not-exactly-superhero/not-exactly-NOT-superhero books out there…and well worth checking out. Alternatively, I’m confident this will make a very good reading experience in collected-edition format, whether it’s one volume or several.

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