The Force Awakens #2
The Force Awakens #2 (of 6)
Writer: Chuck Wendig
Artist: Luke Ross
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Mike Mayhew
The Force Awakens continues in comic form with adaptation issue #2. Unfortunately this issue delivers even less than the first issue did. The story and dialog sticks to the script with nothing new for fans to enjoy. Sadly, the one aspect the comic could have delivered on fails to live up to its value, and that’s the artwork. While most of the panels are fine, none of them are outstanding are awe worthy, and some are downright bad. In the ends, it’s a mediocre issue that really isn’t worth buying unless you’re a completist.
For the most part, this review will focus on the artwork, as there isn’t much that can be said for Chuck Wendig’s part. This issue sticks to the script of the movie without adding anything new, at least there wasn’t anything noteworthy that I noticed. For a strict adaptation, Wendig does a good job of boiling down the movie to the essential scenes and bits of dialog. Typically a comic writer will tell or suggest to the artist how they see the panels on each page. Usually this amounts to an idea of how many panels and some ideas on the layouts, which can then be re-interpreted by the artist. There would also be comments on the content. All of that goes on behind the scenes, so it’s hard to know who to credit on things like that, but overall the direction of the panels and the layouts were good. Together the dialog, narration and the visuals tell the story pretty smoothly.
Diving deeper into the artwork, Frank Martin did a good job with the coloring. Scenes like The Graveyard of Giants looks really nice with the warm desert colors bleeding into the aquamarine colors in the sky. There’s not a lot of pencilling detail in that panel, but Martin brings it to life with the colors alone. In fact most of the detail in the comic comes through with the coloring. For instance, my favorite panel in the issue is the “Chewie…we’re home” scene. It looks great. But if you look closely, you’ll notice just how much of the appeal of that panel is the coloring. Han’s face is brought to live by the shading of his 5 0’clock shadow beard, the way the light shines on his forehead, and the touches of gray in his hair. Then there’s Chewie who has so many layers of coloring that he feels like he has a real texture to his coat of hair. It’s gorgeous.
However, the big elephant in the room is the shortcoming of Luke Ross’ artwork. While some panels are good, and there’s a couple that are great, some are horrendous. The worst panel in the issue is the beginning of the Rey/Finn/BB-8 Falcon repair scene. “It’s the motivator! Grab me a harris wrench!” It’s a perfect example of what happens when an artist rushes a scene. The detail on Finn, Rey and BB-8 is on par with what you would see in a newspaper comic strip. It’s terrible. For a tiny panel, you can get away with this. You could even give it a pass if it was a non-important action scene, or some distant shot. But it’s a normal sized panel, a still shot, and it’s not that far away from the characters. In the scenes that follow, Ross zooms up on Finn and BB-8 and uses some more detail. Yet in a way, that makes the bad panel standout that much more as it just doesn’t fit in on the page with the other scenes.
Ross also cuts a lot of corners elsewhere in the issue. There’s the scene where BB-8 falls on Finn which is done almost completely in shadow. Then there’s the scene where Han meets the Guavian Death Gang which actually is done completely in shadow. Later on which Rey flips the breaker, there’s one panel that’s completely black which is followed by a recycled shot of Han. In each case, these panels wouldn’t have taken much time to do, and you would expect the artist to take advantage of the extra time to make the other panels look that much better. Alas, that isn’t what Ross does. Ultimately, his artwork just falls way short of the mark.
There is one scene, however, that’s worth mentioning and for which Ross deserves some credit. Then again, this may have been direction from Wendig. Either way, when Rey asks Han “This is the Millennium Falcon? You’re Han Solo?” and Han replies “I used to be,” there’s a nice montage panel showing scenes of Han from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The coloring is toned down in an orange wash to give it that flashback feel, and Ross puts in a decent amount of detail. It’s also something we didn’t get in the movie. All in all, it’s a nice visual touch.
Well, The Force Awakens Adaptation #2 doesn’t deliver much on any front. It’s hard to say who this mini-series is targeting other than completists or younger readers. With nothing new and some lackluster artwork, I give this one a one out of five metal bikinis.
Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.