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Traded Up: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Graphic Novel Adaptation & ‘Star Wars Adventures’ #1 & #2 (review)

Script Adaptation by Alessandro Ferrari
Illustrated by Davide Turotti, Igor Chimisso,
Kawaii Studio and Matteo Piana

Published by IDW Publishing
$9.99/ISBN 9781684052103

 

Although Star Wars: The Force Awakens Graphic Novel Adaptation begins with an the film’s opening crawl, it is so loosely tracked to fit it all on the page while trying to give an angled feel, I began to fear for the rest of the book.

But that fear instantly faded on the next page with its intricate ship details, delicate shading and coloring that feels more like a fine watercolor work than a sketched comic book.

The next page clinches the style setup with angular and sometimes swirly outlines for simply shaded characters who sit prominently on the foreground, a lot like an older Disney animated film.

And it is beautiful. In fact, for a young adult targeted book, it’s impressive that it looks so good and so much effort was obviously put into so many of the panels.

It also explains why the credits page – which is sadly shoved to the back of the book – breaks down the art rather precisely. Igor Chissmo is credited for Character Studies as well as Clean Up (sic) and Ink, while Paint (background and settings) is credited to Massimo Rocca and Davide Turotti and Paint (character) is credited to Kawaii Creative Studio. Phew. But, when you look long and hard at each page, you can certainly see the many hands at work.

WARP SPEED AHEAD

This is a pretty true-to-the-film adaptation, only periodically flipping a scene and omitting some of the physical violence, except at the end where it counts the most.

In a super-fast droidshell, a rebel pilot and his BB-8 droid are being chased by the new intergalactic baddies, The First Order, and the latest mask-wearing, black-clad leader, Kylo Ren.

Finn, a Stormtrooper who defects who accidentally finds BB-8 and Rey, an orphan scavenger, on the desert planet Jakku. They escape the planet, sending them on an adventure bumping into classic, well-aged Star wars characters, discovering the Force and joining the rebels to stop a massive planet-killing device and search for Luke Skywalker.

In terms of story, it’s a pretty fast, albeit a pretty strict representation of the movie, not revealing anything new (as has happened with some comic book adaptations) and retaining all the important tidbits. The dialog gets a bit chopped but your young reader will hardly notice unless they’re reading along to the movie.

The only thing that will strike fans of the film a bit odd are that many of the scenes are flipped or reversed from the movie version.

‘And maybe that Han Solo looks quite a bit like Keith Richards. But, really, only be the older fans.

The sound effects could have used a little more finessing as they hit the page like a rude visual shove, especially the laser blast “PEWs.” Sure, they are supposed to be jarring but it really doesn’t fit the more refined look of the rest of the book.

There are quite a few nice touches like BB-8 speaking in what can be best described as barcode instead of the baby-ish “beep BOOP bop” as you might expect. Rey, who has a bit of extra flair thanks to her long flowing garb, also refers to him as BEEBEE-ATE throughout the book, a cute way of making sure every reader knows how to properly pronounce the droid’s name.

This is the type of book that essentially ruined, er, educated my son about the Star Wars universe: It’s well made, it’s enjoyable to look at, it’s easy to read, it and honors the essence of the movie by keeping it familiar while offering an ever-so-slightly different view.

IN ANOTHER GALAXY NOT SO FAR AWAY…

Written by Cavan Scott, Elsa Charretier, Pierrick Colinet
Illustrated by Derek Charm, Elsa Charretier
Published by IDW Publishing / $3.99 each

Also look for Star Wars Adventures #1 and #2, essentially a series of new between-the-movies stories. The format is to feature two or three stories starring pretty much anyone during any time in the more popular portions of the Star Wars universe.

The first story from issue #1 (and continued in #2), titled “Better the Devil You Know, Part 1,” features Rey on Jakku before The Force Awakens, living her life and eventually dealing with cranky scavengers chasing her because she’s in possession of a mysterious J9 android head.

Yep, she’s essentially being chased because she has yet another android, although this one is not yet speaking to her. It’s a cliffhanger to get you to buy the second issue which does conclude the story. Well worth it, especially if you like to see Rey kicking, uh, up sand, with her staff.

The second, “Stop Thief,” is a tale of a younger Obi-Wan Kenobi hanging out in Dex’s Diner – so set somewhere after Phantom Menace and before Revenge of the Sith – when some nimble thieves pilfer something shiny from him. As you can probably surmise, there’s a lesson to be learned that is in the Jedi’s favor. These appear to be the more whimsical half of the book so you always end with, well, an end and a smile.

In the second issue, “The Flat Mountain of Yavin” is another story-within-a-story, this time regaling the tale of Evaan Verlaine, a rebel pilot who could rival the modern Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck for the ass-kicking-ist female pilot.

Both issues also have a page at the end titled “Dispatches from Wild Space” with a plea for readers to send in letters and explanatory blurbs. It’s obviously being set up to be the letters page but, at least for now, it’s becoming a great way for young readers to learn about the newest additions to the Star Wars Universe.

 

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