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Review: Star Wars: Thrawn #1

Star Wars: Thrawn #1 CoverReleased from the continuity limbo of “Legends”, fan favorite Star Wars EU character (The future Grand Admiral.) Thrawn gets his own solo comic, a six issue adaptation of his creator Timothy Zahn’s novel Thrawn. In Star Wars: Thrawn #1, writer Jody Houser, artist Luke Ross, and colorist Nolan Woodard tell the story of how a blue skinned Chiss alien almost immediately became the favorite of Emperor Palpatine and shed insight into how he became one of the greatest strategists and most complex villains in the Star Wars mythos. It’s less origin story/Easter Egg cutesiness and more the first move in a chess game that goes beyond Empire versus Rebels. (Fingers crossed that the Yuuzhan Vong are a thing in the Disney Star Wars-verse.) Plus Thrawn is just flat out cool even if he’s a lieutenant and not a grand admiral in this comic.

To go along with the chess metaphor, it’s fitting that the first few pages of Thrawn #1 are arranged in a neat nine panel grid from Ross that complements his precise figure work. Without a single word out of his mouth, Houser and Ross establish Thrawn as both a wily fighter and tactician, who eludes a platoon of stormtroopers and smuggles himself onboard their ship. Colorist Woodard lays out a dark palette and only relents for Thrawn’s blue skin and red eyes, and this gift for cloak and dagger fights serves the book well later.

Even though he seems like he’s always in control, Thrawn has one weakness: his difficulties speaking Basic, the lingua franca of the Galactic Empire. This leads him to bond with Eli, who just wants to keep his head down, crunch numbers, and run calculations on an Imperial supply ship, but ends up becoming the closest companion to one of the most ambitious men in the galaxy. Eli also allows Houser to keep some of the Thrawn mystique intact by having him as the narrator instead of letting readers have a glimpse into Thrawn’s tactical, unorthodox mind. Unlike, say the Prequel trilogy where we find out that Darth Vader used to be a nine year old who had the penchant for saying ThrawnInterior“Yippee” and grew into a whiny 19 year old that complained about sand, Thrawn #1 forms a portrait of its protagonist’s youth by showing how other people react to him.

And one of those people is Emperor Palpatine himself, who is illustrated in wrinkly lines from Luke Ross and a mix of darkness and light showing the glow of Coruscant and the power of the Dark Side of the Force. Even though he’s an exile from his people, Thrawn talks and bargains with the Emperor like an equal in a epic tete a tete. However, Palpatine is definitely playing dirty when he says that Thrawn’s old war companion, Anakin Skywalker, is dead, and this undisclosed fact might be the most intriguing element of the series so far as well as being a great callback to Obi Wan telling Luke that Anakin is dead. During these scenes, Ross and Woodard tap into the epic vein of Star Wars with blue tinged background shots of Anakin and red flames for Vader hinting that he and Thrawn will most likely come face to face some day.

But Thrawn #1 isn’t all foreshadowing and foreboding. The main portion of the book reminded me of the early scenes in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek where Kirk and Spock are at Starfleet Academy and starting to adjust to the roles they’ll later take on as legendary pop culture figures, but with an evil twist. Thrawn immediately has an handicap at the Academy when his instructor, Deenlark, gives him a lieutenant’s plaque even though he’s a cadet. Of course, he uses this to his advantage. Houser also executes a pragmatic twist on the old “rookie hazing” trope with Thrawn devising an interesting punishment-by-way-of-promotion for his tormentors, who are at officer school because of nepotism. Thrawn doesn’t join the Empire for hubris or power trip reasons, but to solve problems in productive ways. He’s not a villain; he’s a consultant.

Thanks to Luke Ross’ screen toned, yet easy to follow art, Nolan Woodard’s blue and black color palette, and Jody Houser’s precise writing and plotting, Thrawn #1 is a riveting read even for the most origin story fatigued comic book/Star Wars fan.

Story: Jody Houser Art: Luke Ross Colors: Nolan Woodard
Story: 8.3 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Star Wars Adventures, Vol. 2 : Unexpected Detour

Star Wars Adventures, Vol. 2 : Unexpected Detour

Landry Q. Walker, Alan Tudyk, Shannon Denton, Delilah S. Dawson, Ben Blacker, Ben Acker (w) • Eric Jones, Arianna Florean, Annie Wu (a) • Nathan Greno (c)

Travel to a galaxy far, far away in this collection of Star Wars comic book tales! FN2187 turns a bad day and troublesome pest into praise from Captain Phasma. Luke and Leia undertake a high-stakes, two-part undercover mission on Tibrin with explosive results. Plus more stories with K2SO, Cassian, Emil, CR-8R, and the rebels vs. the Empire expand the world of Star Wars into new territory for a new generation of fans. Collects Issues #3–5.

TPB • FC • $9.99 • 80 pages • 6” x 9” • ISBN: 978-1-68405-169-4

Preview: Star Wars: The Classic Newspaper Comics, Vol. 2

Star Wars: The Classic Newspaper Comics, Vol. 2

Archie Goodwin (w) • Al Williamson, Alfredo Alcala (a) • Al Williamson (c)

Reprints for the first time the classic Star Wars newspaper strip in its complete format. No other edition includes each Sunday page title header and “bonus” panels in their meticulously restored original color. The epic seven-days-a-week sagas begin with “Han Solo at Stars’ End,” based on the novel by Brian Daley, adapted by Archie Goodwin and Alfredo Alcala, followed by seven complete adventures by the storied team of Archie Goodwin and artist Al Williamson. The pair had previously worked together on Creepy, Eerie, and Blazing Combat comics magazines, the Flash Gordon comic book, and 13 years on the Secret Agent Corrigan newspaper strip. They seamlessly shifted gears to take over, at George Lucas’s request, the Star Wars newspaper strip. Included are all strips from October 6, 1980 to February 8, 1981.

HC • B&W • $49.99 • 296 pages • 11” x 8.5” • ISBN: 978-1-68405-053-6

Preview: Star Wars: Poe Dameron #24

Star Wars: Poe Dameron #24

(W) Charles Soule (A) Angel Unzueta (CA) Phil Noto
Rated T
In Shops: Feb 14, 2018
SRP: $3.99

• Lor San Tekka has been captured…again!
• And it’s up to Black Squadron to save him.
• Meanwhile, Terex has his own plans in motion…
• …to finally free himself from the grasp of the First Order!

Preview: Star Wars: Thrawn #1

Star Wars: Thrawn #1

(W) Jody Houser (A) Luke Ross (CA) Paul Renaud
Rated T
In Shops: Feb 14, 2018
SRP: $4.99

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Star Wars Universe, Grand Admiral Thrawn is back with a six-issue miniseries about how he became one of the most feared military tacticians in a galaxy far, far away. Written by Jody Houser (ROGUE ONE ADAPTATION) and drawn by Luke Ross (STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS ADAPTATION), follow the comic adaptation of Timothy Zahn’s New York Times best-selling novel about Thrawn’s rise in the Imperial ranks!

Around the Tubes

It was new comic book day yesterday. What’d everyone get? What’d you enjoy? Sound off in the comments below. While you decide on that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

The Comichron – Action 1000 hardcover, Thanos lead comic shop advance reorders as February begins – For those following the horse race.

CBR – 2000 AD To Publish First All-Women Creators Issue – Good.

 

Reviews

IGN – Amazing Spider-Man #795

IGN – Batman #40

Talking Comics – Hungry Ghosts #1

Comic Book – Is This Guy For Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman

Seattle PI – Is This Guy For Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman

Comic Attack – Is’Nana The Were-Spider Vol. 2 #1

The Outhousers – Spider-Man #237

IGN – Star Wars #43

IGN – The Walking Dead #176

IGN – X-Men: Red #1

Preview: Star Wars #43

Star Wars #43

(W) Kieron Gillen (A) Salvador Larroca (CA) David Marquez
Rated T
In Shops: Feb 07, 2018
SRP: $3.99

THE ASHES OF JEDHA Concludes!
The battle between the Empire and the Rebellion over the Kyber mines of Jedha comes to an explosive conclusion…with help coming from the most unexpected source.

STAR WARS #43

Feel The Force In Star Wars: The Last Jedi Adaptation in May

The Resistance is outnumbered…Luke Skywalker has finally been found…and the Rebels fight against a growing evil. The First Order will stop at nothing to conquer the galaxy, and it’s up to our heroes to defend it!

This May, writer Gary Whitta joins artists Michael Walsh and Mike Spicer for a thrilling adaptation of the hit blockbuster Star Wars: The Last Jedi, as they follow Rey, Poe and Finn in their adventures across the galaxy, featuring never-before-seen material!

The six-issue miniseries tells an all-new, exciting story that movie and comic fans alike will enjoy. It’s new Star Wars stories in a tale you already know: relive the magic of Rey’s heroism, Finn’s bravery and Poe’s daringness in Star Wars: The Last Jedi Adaptation, out this May featuring covers by Mike Del Mundo and Joe Quesada!

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