Friday, August 27, 2010

Chronic Review: Star Wars Blood Ties # 1!

Star Wars: Blood Ties # 1
Dark Horse Comics

Script: Tom Taylor
Art: Chris Scalf
22 pages for $3.50

Star Wars: Blood Ties, near as I can tell from the write-up in the back, is going to be a series of mini-series. They're going to tackle subjects bonded by blood in some way. In this case, the blood ties are very close indeed. This first mini-series is a tale revolving around Jango Fett, Boba Fett, and at least one other clone, and is scheduled to run for four issues.

I don't buy any of the Star Wars books regularly. The original movie in 1977 was of course one of THE formative experiences of my life. That love for Han, Luke, Leia, Chewy and the gang never translated to comic book buying for me. I think that if Dark Horse were to publish an ongoing with those characters like Marvel did when they had the license...I think I would buy that. Provided the creative team was at least serviceable.

So this should be in that ballpark, since Boba Fett had his origins in Empire Strikes Back. Alas, I feel no particular nostalgic fuzzies about it. I think it's just me, mind you, and not necessarily the fault of Dark Horse, Tom Taylor, or Chris Scalf.

The story opens with a bit of Jango Fett "parenting". Boba is his clone and not really his son. And throwing a child into a cave with an enormous monster to see if he lives does not actually qualify one to be a father. It pretty much makes you a giant dick. If there's one thing we learn in Blood Ties - Jango Fett is a giant turgid dong.

Of course Boba does come out of that cave alive, as he must, because we've seen Empire and we know that he grows up to be a fine adult assassin. That does take a little bit of the drama out of all of this, but it's not a deal-breaker, in my opinion. Put the character in a tough enough predicament, and even if we know the character does escape, scratching one's head and wondering how in the hell it's going to actually happen can be fulfilling.

The problem here is that we don't get to see it. Jango tells Boba to come back with a tooth, we get a couple panels of "Raaaaaring" coming from inside the cave, and out he comes with the prize. I'm told that off-panel actions can provide a subtle satisfaction, and maybe that's true in some circumstances. To me, this fell very flat.

Show me something clever, something strong, show me the kid using his brain to cause a cave-in, or show me him fighting ahead even though his left arm is missing so that I can believe in the prowess of the legend. Having that fight off scene felt like a cop-out - what did I pay $3.50 for, if not to see the big fight where the boy becomes a man? Cheated!

I suppose I should be glad that the fight was handled away from the camera, so that we only had to burn through one page of Jango Fett wandering about the tall grass avoiding pardlam poop. Had that battle been depicted, I suspect we would have seen nothing else, and we got precious little story in this issue as it was.

Of the 22 pages, 17 contained 4 panels or less. There's really only four scenes in the comic: a lesson, a conversation with Count Dooku, A docking scene, and an assassination attempt. I will say this: the art is gorgeous, and it does make some sense to expand the panels and let that painted style really shine. I get that, I really do.

But there's giving the artist room to roam, and then there's charging $3.50 for a comic that can be read in about 37 seconds and skips all the details on the scene you wanted to see most. There must be an in between somewhere.

My priorities run toward characterization, dialogue, plot, and themes. It isn't as though Taylor fails in these categories, they get the job done and don't stand out. It's not that I don't appreciate a good artist, and I would say Chris Scalf certainly qualifies. Everything in this comic looks bloody terrific, particularly the renderings of Jango and Boba Fett. Usually licensed books have to deviate a bit from the actual actors to avoid royalty payments. Scalf is spooky with how photographically well he replicated the actor's faces.

So the art is splendid, but making room for the art did not do any wonders for packing in story. I tolerated that kind of mix in Old Man Logan, where the "cool moment" factor made it pay off. The balyeg is pretty darned cool, and Jango's docking negotiation is kinda fun as well. This is not a bad comic. The "cool" moments and art didn't tip the scales for me, though.

Fett fans should probably enjoy this comic, but then they would hardly need my recommendation to pick up a copy of Blood Ties, they're already running to the rack. The story is serviceable but incredibly decompressed. If your interest in comics runs toward the art end of things, I would say you should be very pleased with it indeed. For everybody else, I would say there is greater bang for you buck elsewhere.

- Ryan

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This book was really good. It was simple, but very interesting to read. It moved quickly and made sense, which is a good thing in comics these days. If you are looking for a "Pax Romana" type comic book, well this isn't for you, there are plenty of splash pages, but at least those splash pages look fucking beautiful. -michael