Monday, May 14, 2018

Star Wars: Thrawn #4 Review - Marvel Monday

Blue Monday

Written by: Jody Houser
Art by: Luke Ross
Colors: Nolan Woodard
Letters: VC's Clayton Cowles / Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel
Reviewed by: Andrew McAvoy

Part of me feels that this adaptation gave Jody Houser a very difficult task. At first, it seems like its an open goal. Successful novel and beloved character. What isn't so obvious is that this is a book with a lot of peaks and troughs in terms of its excitement levels. It is only through reading this series that I remembered that actually there were large chunks of the source material that was actually (whisper it...) a bit dull. This manifested itself in issue 2 of this mini-series with the pirate encounter. This is another issue that deals with a specific discrete episode in the book which on reflection was only mildly interesting.

It is to Jody Houser's credit than that she manages to extract from that element a pretty taught storyline to guide us through quite painlessly. The issue centers upon Thrawn and Vanto master-minding the entrapment of a spice operation on generic planet 101 in Imperial territory. Thrawn is a genius, bamboozles his victims and the Imperial High Command gets another promotion, gets handed the keys to the Imperial Star Destroyer Chimaera (at which point fans of the original Thrawn triliogy of books go "squeeeee" the Chimaera!!!  - fanboy swoon). Pryce (see the last issue) pops up again for a brief cameo at the high council of Imperial nasties at the end.

Houser basically shoves us from one end of this encounter to the other as painlessly as possible. I think that the work on this issue will really gain benefit from the trade format. In fact, it is starting to look like this series will read very well indeed in trade, with an exciting first issue, quiet second, exciting third issue (Tarkin was marvelous), quiet fourth. I expect the last two issues to buck that trend and go out on a high - we shall see.

Yet again Luke Ross' art is just amazing in this book. As I've mentioned in all my reviews of this series so far - Marvel should just give him any book he wants on the Star Wars end of things. He really gets the vibe of the franchise, he handles the characters with a sophistication and grace, they aren't too cartoony, and the bad guys look really awesomely sinister. Ross' work is really top drawer in here and it compliments Houser's writing brilliantly (as we say in WSDC - "the perfect mix of story and art").

I'd like to take a moment to also credit the colorist on this book. Nolan Woodard's work is very, very good in this issue. It has been remiss of me to decline to mention this before now, but his coloring of Thrawn is just exquisite. Rarely have I ever seen Thrawn rendered in such a suitable choice of blue, it has that magical quality to it that some of the X-Men colorists have perfected in the past on Mystique. really high quality. Also, Ross and Woodard team up on a truly splendid montage style splash page in this issue which is worth the admission fee in and of itself.

Bits and Pieces:

Houser neatly crafts this story to its core points, and successfully manages to sustain the interest of the reader in what is one of the drier elements of the novel. In doing so she is expertly assisted by the art team. This book is one of the high points in Marvel's output for Star Wars. It's up there with the Han Solo mini-series for me (another good outing). This issue may have been lower key than some of the preceding installments but it lays the foundations for what should be an interesting conclusion. I put the book down with high hopes for a safe landing for the series.


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