This week we travel to a Galaxy Far, Far Away with Marvel’s highly anticipated Star Wars #1, and check in with Barbara Gordon in Batgirl #38!
Star Wars #1 (Marvel Comics)
Marvel is expecting big things from Star Wars #1. The first title to be released since Marvel gained the Star Wars brand after Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm, the series features Jason Aaron (arguably Marvel’s top writer) and the legendary John Cassaday on art. Marvel’s been pushing this book like crazy, and they’re predicting this to be one of the top-selling comics of the past few years. Thankfully, it’s damn good. In fact, it’s better than good; it’s pretty damn awesome actually.
Taking place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the Aaron/Cassaday Star Wars absolutely nails the feeling of the original trilogy. Jason Aaron’s script opens much like all of the Star Wars films, with an opening crawl that segues into a spaceship in flight, and while this could be detrimental to the flow of the story, it actually works wonders to establish of the tone of the series. Yes, this Star Wars takes place in the same time period as the previous Star Wars title from Dark Horse by Brian Wood, but the amount of care and talent behind this new series makes it well worth the revisit to this time of the saga.
Jason Aaron is clearing having a ton of fun writing this series, and it shows on the page. While the opening is a little too bogged down in exposition, Aaron more than makes up for it in the latter half of the issue. He also shines in his characterizations of the characters. Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia all sound and act like themselves at this time in the saga. Luke’s inexperienced and unsure of himself, but wants to be a Jedi, while Leia and Han are starting to have feelings for one another, but there’s still plenty of strife between the two of them, which comes to a head in an awesome sequence involving Chewbacca and everyone’s favorite Lord of the Sith, the one and only Darth Vader (who has a supremely badass moment in this issue).
When it comes to the art, all I can say is this: John Cassaday is back. Granted, he never really went away, but after a pretty rocky start with Uncanny Avengers, the legendary artist of such classics as Astonishing X-Men and Planetary seemed like he had lost his touch. Thankfully, Cassaday delivers some of the finest work of his career with this issue. Like Aaron, you can tell Cassaday is a Star Wars fan because of the attention to detail he gives the pages here. And similar to Aaron’s characterizations of the characters, they all look like they should. In fact, some of them, like Han Solo, look like they were ripped right from the movie screen. While there’s still the chance that this book could suffer from the Cassaday Curse, I’m holding out hope that Marvel has given the artist enough of a head start to prevent any delays on the title.
Star Wars #1 is excellent, plain and simple. Really the only negative thing about it is that John Williams’ score isn’t playing while you read it. The $5 cover price might make some people balk, but honestly, this is the first time in a long time that Marvel has offered something actually worth that price. A huge chunk of this issue is dedicated to the story, and the only bonus materials are three page previews of the upcoming Darth Vader and Princess Leia comics. If those books are even half as good as this first issue of Star Wars, we’re in for a treat. The Force is definitely strong with this one.
Batgirl #38 (DC Comics)
Under previous writer Gail Simone, Batgirl was one of my favorite DC titles. However, now that she’s left the book and been replaced by the team of Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher, and artist Babs Tarr, Batgirl has become a book that I keep trying to like more than I do. Unfortunately Batgirl #38 doesn’t do much to persuade me on this new take on Barbara Gordon.
Much of this issue finds Barbara basking in the online love she’s been getting from the residents of Burnside, her new home. While it’s fun to see Barbara Gordon actually enjoying herself, much of Stewart and Fletcher’s script is too wordy, and doesn’t really do a whole lot to surprise us. Once again, Barbara takes on a lowlife with a huge social media presence, and even though she’s faced with the burn of the internet trolls at the end of the book, none of it really feels that important. In fact, between Batgirl’s new outlook on life and the way Black Canary acts in this series, I find it surprising that this book is connected to the rest of the DC universe at all. Batgirl should have it’s own feel and tone of course, but at times it feels almost completely removed from the other Bat books.
Babs Tarr’s art is pretty great for the one action scene in the book, but unfortunately a lot of this issue is characters standing around talking. Tarr does this really well too, but it doesn’t make for a very exciting book. Thankfully Barbara’s new costume still looks cool.
It’s always tough when you have a hard time liking a take on one of your favorite characters. I’ve followed Batgirl from issue one, and love Barbara Gordon, but after these three issues with the new creative team, I feel like maybe it’s time to move on from the character. I hope that there’s some people experience this character for the first time with this run, but as for me, I think it’s time for Ms. Gordon and me to part ways for a while.