The latest issue of Star Wars, the penultimate of Jason Aaron’s run as a writer, has Salvador Larroca, Edgar Delgado, and Clayton Cowles craft a story about Artoo on one-droid rescue mission to rescue its BFF, C-3PO.
The Empire managed to capture the protocol droid in the previous issue after their failed assault on a Rebel outpost. Threepio’s retrieval was the sole success of the Scar Squadron, an elite group of Imperial Stormtroopers.
With the Empire deciding to interrogate and extract Rebel secrets from C-3PO by any means necessary, R2-D2 hijacks an X-Wing and sets off to rescue its friend.
The mission leads to one of the most entertaining single issues of Star Wars since it started coming out through Marvel Comics, harkening back to some of the droid’s most classic moments from the Original and Prequel Trilogies.
It should be said that Larroca and Delgado are great for this book.
Larroca himself has improved quite a bit over his long tenure at Marvel, from Xtreme X-Men to newuniversal to Invincible Iron Man to Darth Vader, among others. Though his work has sometimes suffered due to other collaborators, Delgado colors his work perfectly and the two work well in the Star Wars universe.
It has a cinematic quality that the Marvel books tend to employ in their Star Wars line, with Larocca tending to stick to somewhat photorealistic anatomy and facial renderings. Delgado perfectly matches the hues, shades and tints for the scene, which is set almost entirely on a space station.
They manage to set each layout and frame each panel to add both emotion and urgency to the story, which mostly consists of droids and helmeted imperials. There are points where Delgado's faces do a great job rendering human skin, but fail to add texture to flat hair colors. But that's a minor gripe.
Clayton Cowles, ever the dependable letterer, adds contributes to the book by not doing too much. Experts like these tend to construct their layouts well enough that the lettering is unobtrusive unless it needs to be, like when Artoo beeps angrily at the Stormtroopers before he murders them.
The varied use of fonts from the captions to the dialog aren’t drastically different; just enough to separate the captions from the story and add another humorous layer.
The story itself sees Artoo cleverly make its way onto the Star Destroyer where C-3PO is captive. Though it almost sets up that the rescue mission will be a daunting task, especially with Darth Vader on board, the story is presented with a hint of ridiculous comedy. It’s basically the opposite of a slasher film.
The ship pulls the X-Wing aboard because all of its systems are down and there are no lifeforms registering on board. But when they pull R2-D2 out of the astromech slot, he immediately powers up and unleashes its shocking appendage on the unsuspecting Stormtroopers.
A miscommunication between the containment team and the officers in the command station have the rest of the Empire searching for a formidable droid. In a rush to secure the hangar, they allow the unsuspecting astromech to pass by.
Artoo proceeds to flood the hangar with smoke and pit two response teams against each other in a fire fight, burn some Stormtroopers alive, push a few others out into the cold vacuum of space, and send even more into the garbage compactor.
All of this is underscored by the captions which seem to be coming from an owners manual for the astromech unit, detailing its limited intelligence and engineering capabilities all while stressing that it doesn’t have any weapons systems available.
After finally rescuing C-3PO (and a cameo from what could be a survivor from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), the reunited droids mount their escape — much to the chagrin of the commanding Imperial officer, who gets a nice throat hug from Darth Vader for his efforts.
Vader hops in his TIE Fighter to chase Artoo and Threepio’s X-Wing, but is thwarted by Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, aiding their escape in their respective starships. Though they make it back to the Rebel Alliance, the Scar Squadron found their outpost, setting up an explosive finale to writer Jason Aaron’s run on the title.
Star Wars #36 is available now.
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