I reviewed vol. 1 of Star Wars a little while ago, and I decided the series wasn’t terrible, and was good even! I stand by my review of the first trade. I enjoyed it, though it wasn’t perfect. It had its strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately for this volume, there are more of the latter than the former.
Primarily, I think this volume lacks the boldness necessary to be anything more than average at best. Almost nothing here feels new or interesting within the vastness that is Star Wars, and for that alone, I hesitate to recommend this as heartily as I did the first volume.
Part of this is that second volumes should be able to break the mold and expectations I have more easily than first volumes do. They don’t have to spend needless time on exposition, and sales should have stabilized by the time they start. In a lot of ways, though, this feels safer than the first.
It honestly would bore me to recount the plot in too detailed a way, but I am happy to talk about a couple standouts. The first is an extended scene taking place in an Imperial-occupied history museum. The museum is used to do something that Star Wars rarely does explicitly, especially these days: it critiques colonialism.
It does so in ways subtle and overt, the former by making the villains the occupiers, and the latter by the heroic character literally calling out the immoral actions of the Empire’s colonialism. Now, it’s not like the creative team, or Marvel, hurtled any kind of sizable obstruction by saying “oh look, the bad guys do a bad thing that everyone agrees is bad,” but it is a nice use of the villains, and a use that isn’t common in the Star Wars universe. The bureaucracy of the Empire is always a fun way to show their villainy, and this example felt nice.
What I’m in a real hole for, though, is all the droid stuff that happens in here. Much of the volume is interested in various droids that have been set up, from my boy C-3PO, to Lobot (a “hybroid,” a term just as clever as this comic) and an ancient “talky” droid (again, the cleverness astounds). The plot compares and contrasts these three characters in really interesting ways that Star Wars almost never does with droids. Typically, droids aren’t used as metaphors at all, and it has largely led to incredibly messy metaphors that feel a lot like “happy slave” tropes most of the time. Here, though, those ideas are subtly interrogated, through illuminating the choices that each droid is able to make, and highlights their free will in what may be some of my favorite droid-related moments in the franchise’s history. It’s good stuff, though it doesn’t help the entirety.
For the art side of things, it’s mostly serviceable, but the most important note I want to make is about Jan Bazaldua. I have not loved her art across every series I’ve read by her, but I’ve absolutely seen an improvement, and I really hope she’s able to stay on Star Wars for some time, as it would be great to see her develop and be able to define a solid period of Star Wars history. Personally, I think I’d like to see a new color artist on her lines, as the shininess remains an issue for me, but either way, I’ll be excited to see how Bazaldua continues to grow as an artist.
Star Wars Vol. 2 isn’t the platonic ideal of Star Wars that Vol. 1 was, but I enjoyed enough of it to stick around. The food felt very catered to me, but the bad was just boring, which really, is worse than bad. I hope the next volume is better!
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