Star Wars – In the Shadow of Yavin #4 Review

Script: Brian Wood
Art: Carlos D’Anda
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb

With this week comes issue number four from Dark Horse’s Star Wars — In the Shadow of Yavin. For those unacquainted, this series is picking up just after the end of A New Hope. The Rebel Alliance is scrambling to find a new home base, battling a traitor in their midst, and working to keep everything together. Mon Mothma has tasked Leia with running an off-the-books (or scanners, as it were) team, including Wedge and Luke, to track down the traitor.

As no surprise, the creative team has remained the same through the four issues. Overall, I quite like it, but not all of it. The pencils have great outlines, dynamic points of view, and some wonderful moments of action. However, with pencils and inks together, there’s far too many busy strokes for my tastes. Let me clarify, as I’m fairly certain I just made that phrasing up. Flat surfaces (including undamaged ones) are all wrought with tiny little lines. They aren’t scratches, they aren’t wrinkles in cloth, they aren’t shadows on metal, they aren’t… anything I can identify. I really cannot explain to any conclusion why they are there or what purpose they serve.

This isn’t in particular to point out something D’Anda is doing, as I find it more and more prolific in comic art today, and it’s always been there to some degree, but I suppose this is mostly to say that I just don’t really like it. Even in my distaste for it, I also have to admit that it’s definitely a personal position. I find it distracting. I’m of a mind that wants to know the purpose for everything, and I will spend time getting pulled out of the narrative wondering what on earth all of these damn lines are doing.

With all of that complaining aside, the colors really are exceptional. They do a wonderfully subtle job shading, but an outstanding job with lighting, as odd as that sounds to hear. Shadows are very lightly done, which works. However, light, say from a nav computer or from an explosion, is delightfully done in a manner that really gives depths to the images. Throughout, the colors are both dynamic and thematic, which is a difficult path to walk. Basically, I can’t say enough good about the colors.

For the writing, thus far I’ve been pleased with the story. The characters are very much themselves, the story is pretty cohesive, and I’ve been intrigued from one issue to the next to know more. This issue is no exception from those themes, I’m happy to say. It must be awfully tempting to take something so thoroughly loved as Star Wars (especially these original characters) and run with the idyllic associations that have grown over the decades… but this series does not. Let me give you an example: Luke is a douche. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed that before or not, but Luke Skywalker (at least for the original three movies and for some significant time after in comics/novels) is a whiney, self-important, cocky, and short-sighted ass. Remember that face he gets after Leia kisses him? That’s this Luke; and honestly, that’s who this Luke should be, that’s the person he was at that time.

I’m impressed by how well threads are being handled so far, as well. Now, this isn’t to say it all can’t come crashing down with a single awful ending, but from what has been revealed so far, I’m definitely hooked. Even through single issues, there will be a few pages here or there with some possibly foreshadowing banter between Threepio and Artoo, or a moment  of Vader alone, reflecting on the situation, or just a page of Mon Mothma at a window during a particularly interesting piece of exposition. Every time one of these moments happens, I have to wonder what it means, what it could lead to, and what will the consequences be, and that has kept me coming back for each issue with notable enthusiasm.

Overall, this is a very strong showing in a tenuous situation, where handling beloved material can be dangerous. While I’m not completely in love with all of the art, it’s a very small (and personal) gripe and is overshadowed by some great plot weaving and some exceptional colors. If you haven’t been keeping up with this series, now is the time to catch up, as I feel things are coming to a very immediate head.

Recommendation: Buy

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