GONK reviews this week’s Star Wars comics: Invasion – Revelations #3, and The Old Republic – The Lost Suns #4.
This week, there’s two new Star Wars comics from Dark Horse, and GONK is your power droid on the scene:
Star Wars: Invasion – Revelations #3
The story in Invasion – Revelations picks up with Kaye Galfridian, refugee and princess of Artorias, and perfectly fine despite being shot, walks in on Nina, her step-mother the queen, unmasked as a Yuuzhan Vong, with the Imperial leadership of Shramar dead around her, and communicating to another Vong via villip. Awwwwwwkward. Nina learns from Tsavong Lah that they’re going to send a fleet to recapture the Galfridian’s current ride, the stolen Vong slave ship, and wipe out everyone on Shramar, Imperials and enslaved Artorian refugees alike. After convincing Kaye that she’s still her mom with a “This isn’t what it looks like, and I was going to tell you later that I am a Vong” moment, Nina, back in her human guise, takes control of the local Imperial garrison, and alerts Admiral Bylsma of a nearby New Republic space station to their imminent Vong annihilation and the need to evacuate ASAP.
On Coruscant, Kaye’s brother Finn, framed as an assassin, just wants to get his lightsaber and goggles back from a guarded New Republic facility. Nope, it’s Chief of State Borsk Fey’lya’s private residence. After Finn fails with Jedi mind tricks and brute force, he finally slips in, and overhears Fey’lya on the comm with the Bylsma asking for military assistance. When Fey’lya denies help, claiming that Shramar and Artorias are backwater, Finn activates his yellow blade. Out in the backwater, Bylsma puts out a call to any and all ships in the sector, calling on them to unite for a stand to defend Shramar, and a fleet of military, cargo, and even pirate—err private contracting ships assemble to fight for their galaxy against the invaders. As the evacuation commences, Bylsma comes to meet with the queen, only she’s bringing her ugly face. Before she can explain, the Vong fleet arrives.
I am really enjoying the Revelations story line – I don’t think I could put this issue down. While it is setting up for a huge battle, there is a lot of tension, and we finally see the two storylines (Kaye and Nina on Shramar, and Finn on Coruscant) start to intersect. Will Finn use “aggressive negotiations” to change Fey’lya’s mind on aiding Shramar? With the secretly Vong order to not harm Shramar in their mission to retrieve the Heart of Artorias, is there a deal or a betrayal in the works, and by whom?
There’s some great dialogue throughout the issue, with Finn attempting to mind trick his way past the guards, and failing, and with Kaye’s little barb to the Imperial junior officers about their doublespeak regarding the refugees. Admiral Bylsma’s plea for help ranks right up there with military inspirational speeches on the scale of Admiral Adama from Battlestar Galactica or President Whitmore’s speech in Independence Day. Framing Nina’s call to Bylsma for aid in parallel with the Vong communications preparing for the attack felt smart, with both sides preparing for battle, yet contrasting the differences between the technologies and objectives of the New Republic and the Yuuzhan Vong. Tom Taylor has crafted a fantastic story arc, and in this issue, he brings in his full game as the stakes get raised again, and he builds it up with great attention to detail.
Colin Wilson’s art with Wes Dzioba’s colors works well. While the last issue was a little more scraggly in tone, this felt a bit cleaner. There’s a great variety of cool panels, from the interiors of a Vong ship, and the entrance to Fey’lya’s residence, to the two page spread showing different species listening to Bylsma’s call to arms. There’s some good emotion to Fey’lya’s chief guard, Captain Kopri – and finally a female Twi’lek who isn’t proportioned or dressed like eye candy. Overall, some neat angles and use of shadows and texture.
While this is a middle issue, there’s nothing perfunctory about it – this is great stuff, and I can’t wait for the next issue.
Star Wars: The Old Republic – The Lost Suns #4
Issue #4 of The Old Republic – The Lost Suns jumps ahead a little bit from where we left off at the end of the previous issue. Our three heroes, Republic spy Theron Shan, his Jedi mentor Ngani Zho, and the Twi’lek arrestee Teff’ith are now aboard a large Sith Empire facility. Zho’s being tortured by the Sith, Teff’ith is hiding in a secret compartment in their impounded ship, and Theron is getting a personal tour of the Sith’s new industrial project: the Sun Razer, a giant way to snag the immense energy and matter expelled by a star and use it to build all sorts of superweapons. Having just recently remembered everything about what he did on his first trip to the Vesla system, Zho shares with his Imperial interrogator his life story, and how after peace was declared between the Republic and the Sith, he felt that he needed to see what was going to happen to the worlds ceded to the Sith. Coming to Vesla as a slave for the construction of the Sun Razer, his mission changed as he realized that he needed to care for his fellow workers, until the Sith began testing their newly built weapons on the slave settlements across the system.
After getting the grand tour of the Sun Razer, and many of the weapons built by its near-limitless factories, Theron Shan is offered a chance to join the Sith Empire and betray the Republic while getting a lofty spot of working directly for a Sith Lord. Not taking it, he’s shackled up near his bruised mentor, who continues his tale of his past history on Vesla: after the surviving the extermination of the workers, Zho tried to fight back but eventually had to burn out his own memories to avoid the darkness. While Zho rambles on, Shan has escaped his confinement and the two set off. Teff’ith, who had been left a timed message aboard the ship, emerges from her hiding spot, and meets up with the escapees in a ventilation shaft. Looking at their options, Theron makes the decision to stay and try to destroy the Sun Razer.
This issue, like the last one, is pretty slow paced. Last time, they discovered the threat and tried to escape, and this time, we get a lot of exposition. Ngani Zho’s flashbacks and Theron being told all the details of the Sun Razer and the Sith’s new toys take up most of the pages. Recounting Zho’s lost memories had some interesting bits, but felt either too short for some more personal stories, or just a little too long for just exposition. I’d almost prefer that they could have saved his reclaimed memories for a whole one-off issue, with its own tale to be told. In the end, Zho seeks forgiveness for failing Theron as a teacher, and Theron responds with a glib: I can use my childhood training for ignoring all pain and distraction to tune out your “sentimental gibberish.” Sadly, while I feel for Zho, I think I might need Theron’s training too. Still, the elderly Jedi gets some interesting dialogue as he stops his story for the torturer to ask him if he wants to go home to his kids – but gets shocked and prodded again for his attempts to build rapport. Teff’ith spends a good deal of time sitting behind a fake console eating snack bars before the time for her to move into action, incapacitating the soldier guarding the ship, and slipping to the rendezvous point in the ducts. That’s the height of the action here.
I feel like they had too much to explain in this story, and don’t feel any excitement as the trio meet up and figure out what to do, or even that the Sith have realized that they’ve escaped and are running around loose on the Sun Razer. No sense of tension. The Benjamin Carré cover, with a younger Ngani wielding a lightsaber against a blaster-toting Sith soldier – old bait and switch: the promise of fights, with only a panel inside of Zho’s time in the war. But coming up solidly with both art and Alexander Freed’s script is the almost-full page panel of Ngani Zho, bound to an interrogation rack, facing his masked interrogator saying: “What’s your story, then? Did you always want to torture people?” – this really helps to show Zho’s character: though battered and sharing his past, he’s defiant and also reaching out to his opponent. Theron’s escape is very subtle from captivity is very subtle – it slipped by me on my first reading, since at the time, the main focus is on Zho sharing his story to his former student. Perhaps it was too subtle, and we needed to see something more, just to indicate there’s something going on. I’m hoping, now that Theron is planning to destroy the Sun Razer, we’ll move into the climax of the story, but with only one issue left, I’m thinking that Theron’s plan won’t come to fruition in a satisfying way. Overall, I’m a little disappointed in The Lost Suns; the story started out with some excitement, but now it is moving too slowly.