Scripting: Tom Taylor
Art: Colin Wilson
Coloring: Wes Dzioba
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Dave Dorman
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (01/08/2010)
The exploratory ship Pythea receives a garbled transmission from the last survivor of a doomed world warning about the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. One of the two crewmembers, Panha, has heard of the Vong and tries to warn the nearest planet Artorias at all costs with the Vong fleet closing in. In Artorias' communications center, the main comm system is being repaired by a mysterious figure and Panha's message is received right before the Pythea is boarded. Panha and her Wookiee shipmate Sarkkin manage to kill the boarding party, but with no hope of escaping the armada they bravely send their ship to crash against the lead commanding Vong vessel. On Artorias, Panha's message has been received but the tech turns out to be an advance Vong scout who was sent to prevent the inhabitants from being warned of their impending doom.
This is a printed version of a two-part online Star Wars Invasion Preview that was posted on StarWars.com in the months leading up to the release of the first issue (May 8th, 2009 and June 5th, 2009). Meanwhile, this collected issue was published a week after issue #4 was released. It does have some editorial changes from the online version, most notably six brand new pages. One of the differences is that the titles and credits have been removed from pages 1 and 9, since those can now be included on the inside front cover. Of course the "Invasion continues in one month!" balloon on page 8 has been removed as well. As a result, some of the narrative balloons have been moved slightly on page 1. And with the new added pages, the last word balloon on page 15 has been split up to continue on the new spash page 16-17. Other new pages are 18 which shows the warrior Tsalok surviving the explosion; page 19 showing the goings-on on Nar Shaddaa and Yavin 4 and the captured last survivor of the warrior race who sent the message in the first place; p.20 intoduces the Galfridian family celebrating a birthday in their home on Artorias; the online p.16 becomes printed p.21; and page 22 is a nostalgic look at Han Solo on the Falcon remembering Chewie which clearly places this story after Vector Prime. On top of that, this is the first in Dark Horse's "One-Shot Wonders" campaign, but this one clearly missed the them of "a complete story in each issue."
As a self-contained prelude story, it fittingly introduces some new characters on both sides but in order to avoid affecting the main series they all die. First we have the explorer team of Panha, apparently a Chiss because she knows the Vong, and Sarkkin, who is probably inspired by Chewbacca who is sorely missed in this era. The Yuuzhan Vong are represented here by Commander Azca who is tasked with capturing the Pythea to study the lifeforms within. The Galaxy-wide struggle is represented by these two tiny factions, and both of these ships are destroyed when Panha bravely sacrifices herself and a wounded Sarkkin in order to destroy Azca's vessel. From that explosion escapes a ruined Yoric-Vec with a lone survivor named Tsalok, who looks pretty fierce even for a Vong and who will probably play a role in the series. Other hints at the series are mentioned in the added pages, namely an important transaction on Nar Shaddaa and the family on Artorias. The transmission received by the Pythea at the beginning shows a pretty good advance warning, a muscular and scarred warrior who is the last of his strong and ruthless Human-like species warning the Galaxy about the unstoppable Vong. Later, we see this lone warrior being tortured by a Vong commander.
This preview (which was offered free online) is written mainly to build up excitment for this new series. I don't think it was written to be a well-written dramatic piece. It does contain some humor, mostly at Sarkkin's expense, and some drama and action, and it seems pretty well paced for the short amount of pages given. Personally, I think it's about time there was a series set in the New Jedi Order era and it might even be a little too late now that series of novels ended 6 years ago. But it's really cool to see the Vong in comic book form (only previously seen in "Equals and Opposites" from Star Wars Tales #21 and occasional appearances in the Legacy series) but I don't see this series as long-running. Plus, it's always risky to have a new writer on-board, because he or she might not always be well-versed in Star Wars lore. I will reserve my judgement until the end of the "Refugees" story arc.
Wilson's style is very European, Heavy Metal-esque in some instances. Like the depictions of the warrior race that was destroyed by the Vong. It's not seen in the hologram transmission, but the pictures are extrapolated from the narrative by the last survivor when he describes his people, and that adds a very unique element to the story. Of course Wilson has the opportunity to illustrate the various Vong warships and he does a great job of it. Same with the Vong themselves, most are unique and fierce-looking just as they should. The Humans and humanoid species are not so realistic (Luke, when seen at the academy on Yavin 4 looks more like Han). The coloring work is very good; I especially love the muted blue tones of inside the Pythea's cabin, and the cool starry backgrounds of space. Of course, the cover by my favorite cover artist of all time, Dave Dorman, is totally amazing.
This one is worth a look, even if it's only for the added material.
Rating: 7 / 10 Recommended