Tuesday, January 21, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: STAR WARS #108


[This review was originally posted on Patreon. And visit the "Star Wars Central" review page here.]

STORY: Matthew Rosenberg
PENCILS: Giuseppe Camuncoli; Andrea Broccardo; Kerry Gammill; Jan Duursema; Stefano Landini; Luke Ross; Leonard Kirk
INKS: Cam Smith; Andrea Broccardo; Ze Carlos; Jan Duursema; Stefano Landini; Luke Ross; Leonard Kirk
COLORS: Chris Sotomayor
LETTERS: VC's Clayton Cowles
COVER: Walter Simonson with Antonio Fabela
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: John Tyler Christopher; Michael Golden; Carmine Infantino and Dan Green with Dean White
52pp, Color, $5.99 U.S. (July 2019)

Rated “T”

Marvel Comics is in the middle of celebrating some kind of 80th anniversary or birthday.  Marvel is 80 when you count the debuts of Marvel's “predecessors,” Timely Comics (1939) and Atlas Comics (1951 to 1971).  The declaration, “80 Years,” is currently emblazoned on the Marvel logo.

As part of the celebration, Marvel has been publishing a series of one-shots that act as a brief continuation of odd, off-beat, and forgotten Marvel and Timely comics titles (such as the recent Ziggy Pig - Silly Seal Comics and Gunhawks one-shots).  One of those one-shots, Star Wars No. 108, is a continuation of Marvel's original Star Wars comic book series, which was published from 1977 to 1986 for a total of 107 issues, three annuals, and the Return of the Jedi miniseries, which was a comic book adaptation of the 1983 film.

Star Wars #108 is written by Matthew Rosenberg, who divides the story into eight chapters.  The team of Giuseppe Camuncoli and Cam Smith draws the first four pages of Chapter 1, with Andrea Broccardo drawing the rest.  Chapter 2 is drawn by the team of Kerry Gammill and Ze Carlos.  Chapter 3 is drawn by Broccardo.  Chapter 4 is drawn by Jan Duursema (who drew numerous Star Wars comic books for Dark Horse Comics).  Chapter 5 is drawn by Broccardo.  Chapter 6 is drawn by Stefano Landini.  Chapter 7 is drawn by Luke Ross (who has drawn several Star Wars comic books for Marvel).  Chapter 8 is drawn by Leonard Kirk.  The colorist for this comic book is Chris Sotomayor, and the letterer is Clayton Cowles.

Star Wars #108 is a sequel to “The Crimson Forever,” which was published in Star Wars #50 (cover dated: August 1981) and was written by late Archie Goodwin and drawn by the late Al Williamson and Walter Simonson.  The story also features the character Valance the Hunter, a character that originates in Marvel's original Star Wars comic book and not in the Star Wars films.  Valance was created by writer Goodwin and Simonson and first appeared in Star Wars #16 (cover dated: October 1978).  Simonson, with colorist Antonio Fabela, provides the main cover art for Star Wars #108.

Other Star Wars comics-only characters appear in #108.  First, they are the bounty hunters, Jaxxon (a rabbit-like humanoid) and the female, Amaiza Foxtrain, both of whom first appeared in Star Wars #8 (cover dated: February 1978) and who were created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Howard Chaykin.  Another is the lead villain of “The Crimson Forever,” the vengeful Domina Tagge, who first appeared in Star Wars #35 (cover dated: May 1980) and who was created by writer Archie Goodwin and artist Carmine Infantino.

Star Wars #108, entitled “Forever Crimson” opens some time after the events depicted in Return of the Jedi.  The story finds Domina Tagge again seeking to use the mysterious twin red jewels to avenge herself on both the Rebel Alliance (now known as the “Alliance of Free Planets”) and the remnants of the Galactic Empire.  When separated, the jewels create a deadly plague called “the Crimson Forever.”  Now, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO must stop Tagge.  Jaxxon and Amaiza Foxtrain are allies-of-sorts to Luke and company, but they have their own plans.  And Domina's actions have inadvertently served to revive Valance the Hunter, but whose side is he on?

First, let me say that I am disappointed and somewhat upset that Lando Calrissian does not appear in Star Wars #108, especially because he was directly involved in the original story, “The Crimson Forever.”  That aside, this is a really nice way to celebrate and to remember – even honor – Marvel's original Star Wars comic book series.  For many Star Wars fans (myself included, dear readers), Marvel's Star Wars was the only way we got a regular Star Wars fix during the three-year wait between the release of the original Star Wars films.  [No newspaper local to me carried the very good Star Wars newspaper comic strip that ran from 1979 to 1984.]

Writer Matthew Rosenberg was also someone who was a big fan of those early Marvel Star Wars comic books.  His love for them shows up in “Forever Crimson,” which is true in spirit, tone, and storytelling style to those old Star Wars comic books.  We would be so lucky if Rosenberg produced sequels to other Star Wars stories from those bygone days.

The artists turn in excellent work, and Giuseppe Camuncoli and Cam Smith expertly mimic Walt Simonson's graphic style in their four-page retelling of the story of Valance the Hunter.  Luke Ross delivers his usual stellar work, and Leonard Kirk's closing chapter, with its Art Adams and Mike Mignola-like flourishes, gives us award-worthy art.

Superstar colorist Chris Sotomayor displays his wicked skills coloring seven different artists or art teams in bright colors that recall old-school Marvel comic book coloring.  And superstar letterer Clayton Cowles helps to give each chapter its own tone and atmosphere.

I was quite excited when I first heard about Star Wars #108.  It surpasses my expectations, and it makes me anxious to go back and reread those old Star Wars comic books.  That is high praise indeed.

This issue also includes an afterword in which several people who worked on the original Star Wars comic books recount, to editor Mark Paniccia, their experiences working on the title, some taking a paragraph or more to tell their story.  These include Jo Duffy, Ron Frenz, David Michelinie, Tom Palmer, Louise Simonson, and Walter Simonson.

8.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2019 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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