Monday, June 18, 2018

Star Wars: Thrawn #5 Review - Marvel Monday

Red Eye

Written by: Jody Houser
Art by: Luke Ross
Colors: Nolan Woodard
Letters: VC's Clayton Cowles / Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel
Publication Date: 13 June 2018

Thrawn. For Star Wars fans our inimitable blue skinned friend conjures up a galactic equivalent of Sherlock Holmes. So gifted in the art of noticing subtle and unremarkable traits and signs in order to piece together a puzzle and solve the mystery he has turned his mind to. There are plenty of mysteries for Thrawn to unravel as this series nears its completion. Let's see how he gets on in this miniseries' penultimate issue.

Well this issue really struck home (or should that be struck Holmes) in relation to how much Thrawn - our Sherlock - has relied upon his Dr Watson equivalent in order to demonstrate his intellect. In the previous novels in the old Expanded Universe (before the dark times, before the Disney Empire), he had Gilad Pellaeon, in the new continuity  - and in this series - he has the comparatively gormless Eli Vanto. It is clear from Houser's writing here that Vanto is the foil through which Thrawn's intellect is shown.

In fact, as I've mentioned in my other reviews of this series what has become apparent in Houser's handling of the source material is the difficulty it presents. The Thrawn novel is a very intricate story which, for all Zahn's cleverness, can actually be extraordinarily dull at times. Now I know that criticizing Timothy Zahn is a capital offense in Star Wars land, but I don't really care. For me Houser has made this escapade more streamlined and interesting. She neatly links together the previous incident related to Nightswan, to the predicament facing Thrawn in this issue, and then deftly ties it into what will be the next concluding installment in Batonn. This in turn links in with Pryce's background which we saw in the opening issues. Nicely done with a perfect economy of detail.

As in previous issues I am a big fan of the art in this series and it is with some general pleasure I've noted that the artwork across the Marvel Star Wars line is finally starting to reach a consistently high standard (with the exception of The Last Jedi adaptation). I have went from being one of its most vocal critics to being an enthusiastic cheerleader for this line of comics in recent weeks. To their credit though Ross and Woodward were setting the benchmark at a high level from the start of this series, others have simply come up to that elevated standard.

Bits and pieces

As I continue to read this comic, I realize that looking back the Zahn novel actually wasn't as perfect as it had seemed. Although a very good story, parts of it got bogged down in a level of detail that slowed down the story momentum. This series has dispatched with those limitations and is delivering the definitive version in streamlined form. It will, I think, come across very well in trade format. A great accomplishment from this creative team with only one more issue to go. One word of caution, don't even try to read this issue as a standalone - the material that has come before is essential to understanding and enjoyment.


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