Star Wars Tales #8
[Also available in photo cover.]
Art Cover: Kia Asamiya
Editor: Dave Land, Phil Amara ("Captain Threepio")
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (09/21/2010)
Dave Land gives us a peek at one of next issue's stories in the intro cartoon. He has baby Maul and teenaged Vader rehearse a lightsaber duel, as apparently comic books are done just like movies, and gets sliced in three in the process. But don't worry folks, just like Obi-Wan the editor comes back as a Force ghost somehow.
The cover artist is Kia Asamiya, who adapted Episode I: The Phantom Menace as a manga which was translated by Dark Horse in two volumes. The cover illustrates several elements from the original trilogy with beautiful colors.
Story: Ryan Kinnaird
Art: Ryan Kinnaird
Letters: Jason Hvam
A Rebel freighter is attacked by Jinwa raiders en route to deliver a secret cargo to the planet Ladro. The enemy fighters cripple the ship's life support and all living crew are killed. But See Threepio and Artoo Detoo happen to be on board, and Artoo attaches a data nodule containing Captain Antilles' combat experience to his counterpart. "Possesed" by his former owner's "spirit", Threepio activates the ship's droids and with them as a crew he manages to defeat the raiders and deliver the cargo.
This one stretches logic quite a bit. First off, it's highly unlikely that a whole experienced crew would be killed during an attack in space while the ship remains intact. Also, if it's so easy to give droids knowledge by attaching a nodule to them, how come it has never been done before or since in any Star Wars story? Also the period where this story takes place is sketchy: it seems to take place before the droids were owned by the Rebels, yet they are doing a mission for them. The opening scene is inspired by the beginning of A New Hope where the droids are aboard a doomed ship. Except this time, it is attacked by pirates who work for the Empire. As an "Infinities" story, it is perfect for what Dave Land wants for Star Wars Tales: give an opportunity to artists to visit a universe they would not normally be able to work in. But I must say, judging from this story alone Kinnaird seems like a much better artist than storyteller.
Kinnaird (who I'm guessing did the coloring as well) is pretty good at creating a sort of cartoonish world. I love Threepio's constant frozen expression, which it should be since his face is metal. This would fit well with Dark Horse's earlier Droids series which was aimed at younger readers.
"The One That Got Away"
Story: Andi Watson
Art: Andi Watson
Nima'tar was a female Twi'lek university student who was touring with a musical group to pay her tuition. One day they received a call to play for Jabba the Hutt. The band didn't get paid, so they sold Nima'tar to slavery to pay for their passage off-world. Nima'tar managed to cut her chains with a file between dances for the Hutt and writing her thesis, and when her replacement Oola arrived, she was able to leave before being thrown to the rancor. She was able to leave the palace unnoticed, except by one guard who let her go, and return to university and finish her thesis titled "Hygiene & Power: A Xenopological Study of a Hutt".
It's a pretty entertaining story about a new character which ties in with events just before Return of the Jedi entirely narrated by her. I wonder where Andi Watson got his inspiration about a dancing girl who pines away until she can escape and go back to school. It's very pop culturesque, and his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics might be to blame. In the beginning, she refers to herself as Mina, but given her complete name I think it should be "Nima".
Watson's style is very basic and cartoony, with just lines for mouths and dots for eyes. Nevertheless, he manages to have characters express a lot of emotions through their postures and expressions. The artist and creator of Slave Labor Graphics' Skeleton Key and Oni Press' Geisha definitely has a unique style of storytelling, and it fits the story very well. Plus, it's nice to have one of those simpler stories once in a while.
"The Secret Tales of Luke's Hand!"
Story: Henry Gilroy
Art: Dario Brizuela
Colors: Cara L. Niece
Letters: Steve Dutro
When Anakin Solo asks his dad why does uncle Luke wears a glove all the time, Han tells him a bedtime story of the adventures of Luke's hand after Vader cut it off on Cloud City. Luke's hand escaped Bespin aboard the Millennium Fist and went back to Hoth, only to be confronted by the wampa's severed arm which he defeats with a mini-lightsaber he found in the snow. Then, Luke leaves for Tatooine, where he defeats Ponda Baba's severed arm and is confronted by Vader's hand. Vader's hand freezes Luke's hand in carbonite and brings him to his master, the Emperor's foot. The Emperor's foot cuts off Luke's hand's thumbs with Force lightning, and just like in real life Vader's hand redeemed himself by throwing the Emperor's foot down a shaft. After that, Anakin is pretty impressed and wants to hear the tale of Luke's hand's thumb, but that's a story for another day.
This is a totally silly and funny story, as it is told by Han to his son. It's funny to see Luke's hand fight off other severed body parts from the movie like Ponda Baba's and the wampa's arms, Vader's hand, and the Emperor's foot. Well, the Emperor's foot was never chopped off but he was in an explosion so it could have happened, right? Unfortunately Mr. Gilroy (who also wrote "Death Star Pirates" in this issue, see below) didn't do his research for the framing story, which takes place in the "real" world. The narrative says it takes place 7 years after the Battle of Endor, when Anakin Solo was four years old. First off, Anakin was born during Dark Empire II which is about 6 years after Endor, so he would be a baby. Second, it takes place in their home in the New Republic Palace on Coruscant, which doesn't seem ravaged like it was in the Dark Empire trilogy. So it would be more logical (if such a term can apply to this story) that it would be 10 years after Endor when Anakin was actually four. But this story seems to be written for people who don't even know Anakin Solo exists, so it doesn't really matter. Also, the silliness continues after Han's tale is over, when Anakin says the bad line "Wow! I wanna be Luke's hand when I grow up!" Come on, kid.
The artwork is pretty generic and cartoony, and the artist seems able to capture the likenesses of the starships and characters pretty well. Except for Han: he looks a bit like Harrison Ford on the first page, but by the last page he looks a lot more like Mark Hamill. The artist's imagination seems to have run wild. I'm not sure how much was described in the script, but his concept for the Millennium Fist and the foot-shaped Star Destroyers are hilarious. It's so weird to see the Emperor's foot "standing" on his throne and wearing a hooded robe. Hey, if you want a laugh and forget about Star Wars continuity, read this.
"Death Star Pirates"
Story: Henry Gilroy
Art: Glen Murakami
Color Separation: Don Skinner
This is a reprint of the comic strip originally printed in Star Wars Kids: The Magazine for Young Jedi Knights #16-20, with some editorial changes like a re-design of the title, and the removal of the credits and Dark Horse logo from the first page of each of the 5 installments.
Story: John Ostrander
Pencils: Francis Portela
Inks: Howard M. Shum
Colors: Dave Nestelle
Letters: Steve Dutro
After collecting a sabacc debt from Watto in Mos Espa, smuggler Vilmarh Grahrk meets up with his client Princess Miaria Prrrt who needs passage back to her planet Felacat. She warns him to make short hyperspace jumps because her species cannot take the stress for prolongued periods. Unfortunately, the three pit droids Villie received from Watto to cover his debt decided to dismantle the hyperspace control unit to work on it making it impossible to revert back to realspace. While he's trying to stop the droids, Villie discovers just how Felacatians react after being too long in hyperspace: Miaria transforms into a huge predatory feline who wants to eat the Devaronian. Villie comes up with a plan and traps Miaria inside an escape pod which he ejects and grabs into a tractor beam. This way he carries her all the way to her home planet, where Villie discovers that Felacatians do not like the stress of talking about money. With no reward, Villie at least has the satisfaction of unloading Watto's pit droids with the command to rebuild the whole planet.
I like those little solo adventures of our favorite Devaronian, there aren't enough of them. Much like Ostrander's previous Villie story ("Deal with a Demon", Star Wars Tales #3), this one involves a princess. And they seem to have an attraction as Villie is cajoling her. Of course this is interrupted by her reaction to hyperspace travel. The whole thing with the pit droids is a little too convenient though. After the droids are delivered by Watto's slave (an unnamed Shmi Skywalker in a nice little cameo), Villie gets a moral lesson from his onboard droid NT which prompts him to put the droids to work on NT's ethic circuit. Instead Villie quickly finds out that Watto passed him so defective cargo as the droids start to repair whatever the judge is a priority. So this just happens to be the hyperspace control? Right when the Inferno is in hyperspace carrying a passenger who reacts badly to it? Convenient. I feel a little bad that Villie didn't get paid after all his troubles, but if you consider that he was not joking when he said he might ransom or sell her, maybe he deserves it.
I always associate Villie with Jan Duursema (frequent collaborator with Ostrander, who illustrated him in the previous Tales story as well as Star Wars #19-22 "Twilight"), so I was disappointed to see a different artist. Nevertheless, Portela does a very good job of drawing the story, especially Villie and princess' two sides (the sexy catwoman side, and the scary big saber-toothed tiger with spikes on its back side). But it's not on par with Duursema's style and I cannot avoid comparing the two.
More cartoony stories this time, with "Bad Business" the only serious canon story. This issue's style is all over the place from funny, to completely silly, from abstract to traditional. It's hard to recommend it to serious fans.
Rating: 6 / 10