This week Star Wars returns the to shelves, and we explore the further adventures of monster hunters Lewis and Clarke in Manifest Destiny!
Star Wars #4
After the trailer for The Force Awakens, a new issue of Star Wars is just what the doctor ordered. Jason Aaron and John Cassaday’s massive Star Wars series continues this month, and while this issue is a quieter one than the previous ones, it’s still one hell of an example of how good this series is.
This issue finds our heroes recovering from their almost successful mission of destroying the Imperial weapons facility. Han and Chewie are fixing the Millennium Falcon, Princess Leia is pushing her fellow Rebel Alliance leaders to keep bringing the fight to the Empire, and Luke is still trying to get the hang of using his lightsaber. In a fit of desperation, Luke announces that he’s going back to Tatooine to find out any information he can on Obi-Wan Kenobi, a decision that does not sit lightly with his new friends, especially when the Empire has every bounty hunter and criminal in the galaxy looking for information on the pilot who destroyed the Death Star. Little does Luke know that Darth Vader is on the desert planet meeting with Jabba Hutt. In a scene that syncs up nicely to the opening issue of Vader’s own series, Vader is there to intimidate Jabba into giving the Empire access to his food and weapon supply.
Like the issue that came before it, Star Wars #4 has a fantastic script by Jason Aaron. His characterizations and dialogue of the main characters is spot on, and his script keeps bouncing along, giving us just enough time with each of our characters to see how the mission affected them. It’s impossible not to read this comic and not hear James Earl Jones, Harrison Ford, or Mark Hamill. The real standout in Aaron’s script continues to be Darth Vader, whose dialogue is so spot on that it’s chilling, and his scenes with Jabba are the highlight of the issue.
On the art side of things, John Cassaday continues to deliver some absolutely knock out pages in Star Wars. There’s a few minor hiccups with some faces, but man, Cassaday’s pages in this issue are breathtaking. Cassaday draws some incredible pages that are just as good as the ones where he’s having Vader crush an AT-AT in previous issues. Tatooine has never looked so good.
Star Wars #4 is evidence that Jason Aaron and John Cassaday can do more than craft dynamite action sequences for this series, they can also create great character moments and expand on the Star Wars universe in fun ways. The characters are spot on, the art is fantastic, and there’s a cliffhanger at the end that will have you screaming for the next issue. Marvel is doing some incredible things with the Star Wars license, and this title is quickly becoming one of the best on the shelves.
Manifest Destiny #14
Any time Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts’ Manifest Destiny hits the comic shelves it’s a good week. Their continuing tale of the real adventures of Lewis and Clark’s exploration into the Western Territories is a tremendous adventure comic filled with awesomely original creatures. And with the latest issue, Lewis and Clark may have stumbled upon one of the worst creatures they’ve ever encountered.
Picking up right where the last issue left off, Lewis and his small band of explorers subdue the mysterious bird/bear hybrid creature that attacked them. At the same time, Clark has remained on their ship to ensure that Sacagawea gets the care she needs after falling ill. Lewis returns to the ship with the creature with plans to study it. But after the bite from the creature on a crewman turns poisonous, Lewis decides that he’ll have to remain with the creature at all times to ensure no one decides to put the creature down. While he sleeps, Sheets, their most loyal crewmember, is attacked and carried away from one of the older members of the creatures’ species, leaving the spooked crew trying to figure out where Sheets went the next morning, which leads to the start of a mutiny against Lewis and Clark.
Chris Dingess’ plot for this series is absolutely stellar, and I love the way that he slowly reveals things about creatures the Lewis and Clark encounter on their journey. Instead of giving us copious amounts of back-story, Dingess keeps the focus on Lewis and Clark, so we learn about the monsters they’re facing from their perspective. We know just as much as they do, which adds a great sense of mystery and excitement to the series.
The art by Matthew Roberts also does a fantastic job of keeping you guessing, especially when it comes o the different monsters that the group encounters. No monster looks exactly the same, and they also look nothing like anything you’ve seen before. This current one has a weird “My Pet Monster” looks to its face, but it also has a giant beak with teeth. And when we see one of the older members of the species, well, let’s just say that the reveal is pulled off spectacularly by Roberts, and proves that the worst is yet to come for Lewis and Clark.
If you aren’t reading Manifest Destiny, you should really give it a shot. This issue serves as a pretty good jumping on point for new readers, but if you really want to get the whole story the first two trade paperbacks have been out for a while. Manifest Destiny is one of the coolest series on the stands, and has surprised me every single month.
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