I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 7 comics last week: Superman #42, Marvel Zombies vs. Age of Ultron #2, Batgirl Annual #3, Batgirl #17, Thors #2, Daredevil #17 and Marvel 1602: Angela Witch Hunter #2.
The best comic I read last week was Star Wars #7.
In a week that featured a lot of good comics – and some very good ones (Daredevil #17) – but there was only one great one. Star Wars has been an excellent read with solid art since Marvel launched the title with Jason Aaron and John Cassaday at its helm. Aaron has a terrific grasp of the post New Hope world and has managed to inject fun and intrigue into a story to which we know the ending. His characterizations have been perfect. His plots have been clever. His set pieces (Darth Vader taking on an AT AT, anyone?) have been over-the-top in the best possible way.
Cassaday has walked a line between being slavishly devoted to likeness both in terms of the characters and in terms of the “world” he’s playing in. More often than not, he’s been on the right side of that line. He has put together a solid run on the book and stayed on schedule which is a sometimes a challenge for the talented artist.
So, Star Wars so far has been great. Has it been month-in-month-out remarkable? Not necessarily and not always consistently, but it’s certainly been great.
That all changed with Star Wars #7. Star Wars #7 IS remarkable.
This issue tells the story of what happened to Obi Wan Kenobi after he took of residence on Tatooine to watch after Luke Skywalker following the Clone Wars. Poignant and clever, the plot unfolds as Obi Wan tries desperately to make peace with his new mission (which involves living like a hermit and an utter denial of his past) while keeping as low a profile as he possibly can. “As hard as it was to become a Jedi,” Obi Wan thinks, “it was even harder to stop being one. But that’s what I did.” Powerful stuff. Narrated by old Ben himself, Star Wars #7 is one part Aaron creation, one part Lucas creation and one part McGregor creation all leading up to a narrative from which the Alec Guiness version of Obi Wan brilliantly emerges.
Living in his hovel and speaking to/with his old master Qui Gon Jinn (remember Yoda told Ben at the end of Revenge of the Sith that Qui Gon had become part of the living Force), Obi Wan comes to terms with living in the shadows, especially after the headstrong young Luke Skywalker ventures off his uncle’s moisture farm and, shockingly, into trouble. Aaron peppers his story with call backs to both trilogies, with language that sounds like it’s being spoken by Guiness and with enough emotion to really elevate the material. It’s a masterfully written issue.
It’s also amazing looking. Simone Bianchi makes his a one issue appearance as penciller and his work looks amazing. Not going for much of a capture-the-likeness approach, Bianchi captures the spirit of the characters and of Tatooine in work so clean and clear it’s poster worthy, panel-by-panel. I’ve long admired his Bianchi’s art, but have been put off a bit by the overly sketchy nature of it. Here, he’s controlled and the art sings.
This book has been wonderful. Anyone who is a fan of Star Wars and is not reading it is making a mistake. Star Wars #7 represents the zenith (so far) of a very high peak. I am excited to see what comes especially next month as Marvel moves into the first issue of Shattered Empire, a story which fills in the gaps between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.