Star Wars #8

Jason Aaron is the luckiest writer at Marvel, and "Star Wars" #8 is further proof of that as he and artist Stuart Immonen go above and beyond with Han, Luke and Leia. Through Aaron and Immonen, the world -- er, galaxy -- comes to life around these characters. Immonen populates the bar on Nar Shadda with Ithorians, Snivvians, Chadra-Fan, Iridonian Zabraks, Weequay, Nikto, Trandoshans, Quarren and so much more. Beyond that, he makes Sana as much a part of the world as the trio, although she is an original character in this series.

Artists assigned to draw a licensed property usually go one of two ways: either they draw very precise but rigid interpretations of the license or they draw brutally rough facsimiles. Immonen does neither. He captures the essence of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill from the late 1970s, beautifully replicates their attire (with creative license) and masterfully delivers expressions that are neither slavish nor brutal. From Han and Leia bickering over their situation to Luke assuredly taking charge, the expressions are ones I could swear I've seen before, but Immonen's drawings of them are not rigid at all. His characters are fluid and smooth, interacting with one another, expressing themselves and genuinely consuming landscape. When necessary, Von Grawbadger provides the inking assist to Immonen's figures, adding shadow and weight. Mostly, the two craft the imagery as deftly as one hand might, with Von Grawbadger the perfect inker for Immonen's pencils.

Aaron is no slouch when it comes to writing this issue. The argument between Han and Leia is sold through Immonen's visuals, true, but the words read just as though George Lucas himself took them out of a script and left them on the cutting room floor for Aaron to find. Aaron's take on Luke is impulsive and impatient, as he needs to be in this era. With Obi-Wan's journal in hand, all Luke can do is complain and take off without thinking his plans through, and that leads to a nice bit of drama sure to spin off into other directions. Through Aaron's plotting and script, the story just seems to flow through the pages.

"Star Wars" #8 is completed through the work of letterer Chris Eliopoulos and colorist Justin Ponsor. Ponsor's colors are on target, following the property's action figures and movies closely while using some creativity to improvise with new settings, characters and activities. He doesn't employ a wide range of temperature in the intensity of his lighting, as the story doesn't demand it. When the story does call for emphasis, Ponsor ratchets up the coloring with undeniable intensity, using brilliant, red-hued tones for the cliffhanger ending.

Eliopoulos doesn't go overboard with the lettering, rarely changing up the word balloon formations or font, but he does a masterful job of bouncing balloons off one another and pacing them out for dramatic effect. He also provides a variation of font size to give the characters understated dialogue that would register barely above whisper, and his choice for presenting R2-D2's chirping is spot on, giving readers a chance to visualize the assortment of noises the astromech droid produces.

"Star Wars" #8 is a rare beast of many different colors. Not only is it the eighth chapter in an ongoing, it presents itself as a perfect jumping on spot, despite the fact that the previous issue was a bit of a fill-in. Additionally, "Star Wars" #8 presents a creative team at the top of their game, specifically with an artist who has absolutely found the assignment of a lifetime. Not only is Immonen's work perfect for the story, these characters seem to elicit the very best from him. Granted, this is the first issue of this collaboration, but it bodes very well indeed for future chapters.

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