There are some writers, some artists, and some properties which carry such gravitas it becomes all but impossible for a fan to pass by. An issue one of Star Wars, The Force Awakens, written by Chuck Wendig is a fine example. There was basically zero chance I was going to pass this book up. So it is with great disappointment that I must report that it brought absolutely nothing to the table.
Chuck Wendig is an accomplished writer, and well versed in the Star Wars literary universe, having written the Star Wars Aftermath trilogy (only the first of which has been released). These books immediately follow Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, meaning he was trusted with one of the most coveted and important timelines in the modern canon, and he does not disappoint. To have an author with such chops in your stable, it would seem obvious to me to give him, if not free reign, then at least a long leash. After reading the first issue of Star Wars, The Force Awakens, it’s painfully clear that this was not the case.
This book, coming out after the blu-ray release, after the novelization, with all of the bonus material provided therein, offers absolutely, and I do mean not one tiny little minuscule iota, of originality. It makes me wonder why Marvel comics bothered to pay a writer of Wendig’s caliber if they simply wanted somebody to not only directly adapt the film onto comic pages, but to rush the plot besides.
The book reads like a hurried synopsis of the film. The pace is terrible, there’s no character investment, but the worst crime to me is that there is not one single element outside of the original theatrical release. Releasing a comic adaptation provides an opportunity to explore some of the heretofore unexplained areas in the plot. What was Lor San Teka doing on Jakku? What happened to Poe after the crash? The original trilogy’s adaptation, written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Howard Chaykin, were clearly based off not the film itself, but some earlier draft of the script. This is evidenced by the inclusion of scenes not seen in the film. This is the kind of thing I was hoping for, and frankly, expecting, from this release, but was left with a phoned in summary of the film.
I suppose there is a possibility that the book will delve into untapped story as it progresses, but as a comic reader, I do feel a certain level of expectation in that first issue. If you can’t catch your audience with that, what reason do they have to keep reading? As it stands now, I’m dismayed to admit that I really have no reason to continue reading this book. The rest of the Star Wars comics have been fantastic, the first two issues of Han Solo are out, and it’s shaping up to be a thrill, but I guess they can’t all be winners.
Star War, The Force Awakens is illustrated by Luke Ross (Gen-13, Spider-Man), and he provides quality work. I wish I could say it was enough to save the book, but I can’t. However, his work is truly solid. The color contrast, and especially his ability to capture the emotions of the characters deserves praise. It’s just unfortunate that those abilities have been tied to such a mediocre book.
Given the underwhelming delivery, especially held up against it’s other Star Wars comic counterparts, this book will have to come in at a surprisingly low rating. The saving grace from a one Light Saber rating is Ross’ legit efforts to make this book at least pretty, if nothing else. When all is said in done, I’m dismayed to give it 2 Light Sabers.