Monday, May 14, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Adaptation #1 Review - Marvel Monday

The Ret-con Awakens

Written by: Gary Whitta
Art by: Michael Walsh
Colorist: Mike Spencer
Letters: VC's Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Star Wars
Reviewed by: Andrew McAvoy

Okay, in the interests of transparency I must confess that I didn't like The Last Jedi. My reaction to it started off with a mildly disturbing feeling upon exiting the cinema. I kept thinking what did I just watch? Luke Skywalker milking a big sea cow's tit for green milk? Poe baiting Hux with terrible 'yo mama' jokes? Luke Skywalker tossing the lightsaber like he was playing a part in a BBC Morecambe and Wise skit? Don't even start me on Leia Poppins. I didn't dislike it in an "I'm a manbaby and it spoiled my childhood" way. I disliked it in a "this movie is an absolute car crash, dull as all hell, weird-humor infested, pile of Bantha crap" way. Subverting expectations? More like it trotted out a poor man (impoverished in fact!) Empire Strikes Back-Return of the Jedi hybrid story-line. Here's your mystery box back JJ, I didn't use it, I just rammed the content down the garbage disposal on max so no one can ever use it again.

Since then Lucasfilm has tried every trick in the book to salvage this trash fire that drove a wrecking ball through a mildly promising start to their custody of Star Wars. It began with daily "Rian Johnson explains interviews", then moved onto shill city defense mode, before moving on to (and I kid you not) an "expanded edition" novelization aimed at fixing the mess. Now, the novel had the benefit of allowing you to direct the hell out of the story in your head better than Rian Johnson did. Which brings us on to this comic adaptation. All of this context is important because it provides a picture of the desperation underpinning this adaptation. Trouble is Marvel Star Wars ain't exactly a treasure trove of goodness either these days. The stage was set. Would the forces of retcon win the day, or would Marvel Star Wars deliver more on their "garbage will do" mission statement for fans?

The book has Gary Whitta on writing duties. Whitta is the writer of the mildly successful Rogue One film (which admittedly looks like Citizen Kane next to The Last Jedi). He is notorious for having to delete a lot of old posts slagging off the Prequels after he got the nod from Lucasfilm for Rogue One. Oh well, we've all made mistakes. He does have some previous experience in comics, but it doesn't show here. The leaden and dull elements of the dialogue are retained. The snappy dialogue that seemed so oddly inappropriate to Star Wars (methinks Mr. Johnson had been watching some Guardians of the Galaxy) loses its ability to make you laugh even though you don't want to and is replaced by, dull, bland, magnolia. No sparkle is added at all. There were really good parts of Whitta's dialogue in Rogue One, some really funny lines for K2-SO and I had hoped he could adjust a few things. No.

It is very interesting that Whitta cuts the Poe-Hux exchanges at the start. That must have been made mandatory by senior management. Ironically as bad and weird as these were on screen they might have actually worked really well in comic book form. It is an amazing omission though, as Lucasfilm must have loved that line to have made it one of the opening set pieces of their film. Here? Expunged.

Which brings us on to the art. What was going on when that art was okay'd by editorial? People's faces look pinched, distorted, cartoony, Leia is drawn with no grace, Kylo Ren looks like he's had his face flattened in by a shovel, Finn waddling around in a blow-up bag of bacta fluid looking like the Stay Puff man from the neck down. Luke looks even more like Nick Nolte after a big night out on cocaine and hookers than he did in the movie, and Poe looks like Dennis the Menace from the Beano. One bright point: Luke's tossing away of the lightsaber looks slightly less comedic. Plus Spencer's coloring is good.

Bits and Pieces:

I went into this desperately hoping to finally find a visual format that I could use as a substitute for watching the film. I may want to watch Episodes I to IX some time, and omit The Last Jedi. In which case I would have dearly loved a good Star Wars comic to fill the gap between Episodes VII and IX. Alas, yet again Marvel Star Wars just takes their eye off the ball. We know they can produce a high caliber book, but too often they just toss their books at us like Luke tossing his lightsaber at some Porgs. Hang your head in shame Marvel Star Wars, you blew it. Still better than the film though.



  1. I thought the movie was actually pretty good. . .but then again, I also liked Burton's Planet of The Apes, so my bar for movies to hurdle is a BIT low. That said, even the two pages of this comic you posted make me not want to go anywhere near it. That art is worse than bad! Carrie Fisher didn't exactly age well, but DAMN! They could have at least spruced her up a bit in a comic book. It's pretty bad when Ackbar looks better than Princess Leia. No thanks, Marvel.

    Great review and thanks for the warning.

  2. Thanks a lot! Yeah, it's terrible - save your money and buy that Thrawn book - Luke Ross' art is great in it!! There's nothing wrong with the Last Jedi that a good director couldn't have fixed with a bit of disciplined editing and a knowledge of Star Wars. If people enjoy it, then that's great - I wish I had gotten some enjoyment from it too! I really do.