The War of the Bounty Hunters event may be over, but don’t count out the excellent new one-shot focused on IG-88 out this week. One might argue a narrative about a robot is likely to be dry and boring, but you’d only think that if you haven’t read Rodney Barnes and Guiu Vilanova’s new issue delving into IG-88’s psychosis as well as his journey to come back to life.
Appropriately titled “Born to Kill,” this one-shot opens on a cold planet where IG-88 lies dead amongst a sea of parts. Captions hover over these scenes from a discussion of death and the ceremonies that take place to honor those who have fallen. It’s different for a droid, though, as there is no hope to be remembered as they have no legacy to leave.
It’s especially different for IG-88, as Barnes and Vilanova show the droid has died a few times and always comes back. Even after facing Darth Vader back in June. We soon learn the narration is coming from a formidable mechanic, but also a person very much in awe of IG-88. His perspective gives the narrative an almost religious angle, as if IG-88 is more than just metal and parts, but something even bigger.
This helps add perspective when IG-88 is eventually put back together. Avoiding the turn in the story that comes as a shock, Barnes further explores the narrative from IG-88’s perspective in the second half. It’s impressive how the narrative pulls out the personality and psychosis of IG-88 through the captions and dialogue.
You begin to read in between the lines and see he’s not just a pile of scrap and code, but a creature that has wants and maybe even dreams. He would never admit or agree to that — in fact, he’d probably blow my brains out for saying it — but it’s part of his charm to see how he’s more human than most droids while rejecting that idea completely.
The story ties into the War of the Bounty Hunters event, but for the most part, it picks up IG-88 where we last left him, and then sends him on his way into the eventual Crimson Dawn series, Star Wars: Crimson Reign. Barnes has done a lot to elevate IG-88, giving Charles Soule plenty to work with in Crimson Reign.
The art by Vilanova and colors by Antonio Fabela are fantastic. Whenever blasters or lightsabers are on the page the book brightens, but for the most part, the brown rust and darker tones are visualized well through color. Villanova supplies good detail when it comes to IG-88, and even though he’s a set of red lights and odd shapes, there’s a key scene where you actually feel for the droid. The captions certainly draw you in and the art pushes in with a slight angle as if to show IG-88 is contemplating life.
There’s an indie feel to Vilanova’s pencils, in part due to the layouts taking a few chances and panels speeding up and slowing through layout design. All told, it’s a story that would work on some level even without words.
Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters: IG-88 is an example of how Star Wars comics enrich characters who are often given very little screen time. It’s also an example of how there is heart and soul in any character, no matter if they are flesh and blood or metal and oil. It’s a sympathetic story about a killer robot that surprises, delights, and makes you think.
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