Star Wars: Weapon of a Jedi is an ungainly comic. That’s not to say it’s a bad comic — it’s not. The book, an adaptation of a novel by Jason Fry, written by Alec Worley and drawn by Ruairi Coleman, is pretty solid. But a comic adapting a book, and adapting it so closely, naturally inherits difficulties that you don’t get as much when you, say, translate a movie into a comic.
Comics are, naturally, a strange middle between the two. You have the imagery of a movie, where you can get the reader to see exactly what you wants them to see. But unlike a movie – or, at least unlike most movies – you can get a sense of interiority, as you can in a book through thought bubbles and captions.
But comics, as a strange middle-ground between those two poles, also have flaws that neither of the two have. A comic can’t use words as a book can, because you have the inherent limitation in that a panel is only so big. You can’t fit the words in and still see the actual artwork, unless you have a letterer like, say, Tom Orzechowski – and Tom Orzechowskis don’t grow on trees.
Similarly, while in a film you can rely on the score to support your themes, and to convey emotion when there are no actual spoken words, there is obviously no music in a comic book. So, you end up having to either rely on the power of the artwork alone, which is hard unless you have a truly exceptional artist, or have text in a lot of the panels.
It’s hard to strike a balance between the two – to find the place where the comic both isn’t chock-full of words in every page, and also effectively conveys emotion and plot. And when you’re adapting a book, which, naturally, leans towards being text-heavy, the comic is weighted towards one side before it’s even written.
And that’s the problem with Weapon of a Jedi. It’s a good story, and I liked it when I read it. You know, when I read it in 2015, when it came out. It’s a perfectly fine story, set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. It’s been out for six years; you can look up the plot if you’re really interested.
But the comic doesn’t do anything beyond just adapting that story. It neither justifies its existence, nor executes itself as an adaptation well. It is talky, with significant sections consisting of Luke Skywalker thinking to itself, or C-3PO saying exposition into thin air. And despite being a 48-page comic, not a lot actually happens. A different writer could easily condense that down to a standard sized book, and cut out the bits that have Luke summarizing parts of A New Hope. If you’re reading this comic, I’m very confident you’ve seen that movie once or twice.
Again, it’s not a bad comic. I like the story, just as I did when I read it six years ago. It’s just clearly a novel’s story, which doesn’t work well in this medium.
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