“Wgha ryuraygu hwyrrararr.”
What’s that Chewie? Marvel’s giving you your own series written by Gerry Duggan and drawn by Phil Noto and the first issue comes out today? That’s great, let me ju-
“Wyogg, ur oh wawghh!”
Wait, what? Give you a perfect 10 or you’ll tear my arms off?! Hardly seems fair but… Chewbacca #1: is it goo-
Ahem. ::sobbing sounds:: H-how how perfect is it?
Chewbacca #1 (Marvel Comics)
Chewbacca #1 begins on an Imperial occupied planet, where a space mobster named Jaum and his lycanthropic looking accomplice are in the middle of extorting credits from a father (Arrax) and his young daughter (Zarro). When it’s clear that Arrax won’t be able to meet Jaum’s capricious demands, it’s off to the Andelm Beetle Caverns, where the two will have to “work off their debt.” Indefinitely:
Of course, Arrax ain’t down with that. He figures out a way to smuggle his daughter from the Caverns and with her newfound life as a fugitive the conflict really begins to take shape. Writer Gerry Duggan has crafted an interesting start in Chewbacca #1 and a very genuine protagonist in Zarro. That is, she feels real; she acts like a kid; she makes brash decisions; she gets frustrated; she even asks Chewbacca to share his food with her after making fun of his “gross” fur-shedding habit; and she displays an overarching rebellious flair that never encroaches upon arrogance, which makes her more likeable than annoying. (Always a plus for child protagonists.) Now that she’s on her own and on the run however, she needs someone to have her back…
Which brings us to our titular hero: Where does Chewbacca fit into all of this? Surely Chewie could just open a can of Wookie whup-ass and turn this limited series into a one-shot, right? Maybe. He’d need to have a reason to get involved in the first place, though. When he does, Duggan does a fine job of finally linking Zarro and Chewie’s paths in a way that never feels contrived. This includes a fun, cleverly crafted scene that takes place in an intergalactic casino; we don’t get to see Chewbacca snap any necks or bash any skulls, but he flaunts his galaxy-renowned strength without so much as moving a muscle.
There are several instances like this where emotion is related deftly with minimal use of speech and it’s made even more satisfying by the fact that Zarro can make just as little sense from Chewbacca’s ursine bleating as us. (Those of us who don’t speak Shyriiwook, anyways.)
It speaks volumes for artist Phil Noto’s art; the illustrations in Marvel’s Star Wars line have been top-notch, and Chewbacca #1 is no different. Noto lends his beautiful, painterly art-style and lush color palette in ways that only enhance the narrative and remind us we’re in a galaxy far, far away. Locales like the Andelm Beetle Cavern above, with its gnarled framework of translucent, coral-pink, living-tissue are only the tip of the iceberg. His character designs are at once fresh and evocative of the Star Wars feel, too: Jaum in his self-contained space suit, with foul-looking gas perpetually fogging the glass of his helmet looks every bit as unctuous as he should be and then some. Zarro sports a tomboyish look — Jet Set Radio-esque duds and a pixie haircut that lend to her sense of mischievous energy. And of course, Chewie himself — the bandoliered, hirsute hero who Noto portrays in a variety of emotive states.
And don’t forget my personal favorite thus far, babysitter and “attentive” listener Chewie:
Is It Good?
Marvel has another Star Wars winner on their hands. Chewbacca #1 features a tight, engaging narrative, solid characterization and gorgeous artwork. By issue’s end, Chewbacca and Zarro exhibit a sort of big brother/little sister relationship that completely endears and has you rooting for them to take the power back.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m hitching next transport out of here. And if an irate Wookie asks who reviewed this issue, in the words of Shaggy (pun): “It wasn’t me.”