On the heels of the critically acclaimed film, the announcement of a “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” comic adaptation penned by “Star Wars: Aftermath” writer Chuck Wendig had many fans in a fervor. Though artist Luke Ross successfully captures the likeness of the new characters, the first installment of this six-issue miniseries just doesn’t live up to the hype. Unfortunately, the issue fails to nail any of the magic of “Episode VII,” and one could even call it bantha poodoo.
To his credit, Wendig gives us a very cut-and-dry version of events; starting out on the desert planet of Jakku, the issue acquaints readers with the cast of characters and quickly spurs the story forward. There isn’t anything new added here, and — if you haven’t seen the movie — it doesn’t offer much in terms of pacing. It’s just too rushed, and any beat for dramatic impact isn’t felt at all. Surprisingly, Wendig doesn’t even give readers the opportunity to be invested in the characters, as they’re drained of all personality. They’re literally just pictures on paper, and it’s incredibly disappointing for those hoping to relive the fun of the comic’s cinematic counterpart. Nevertheless, Clayton Cowles always does an excellent lettering job no matter the project, and this issue is no exception; as always, his layouts and typeface are nondescript and don’t distract from the plot.
Though Ross captures each character’s likeness well, the art is missing the love for the franchise in the same way as the script. Panels are laid out repetitively and don’t add anything to the storytelling; the few splash pages don’t do the action sequences any justice, even in dramatic scenes like Poe and Finn’s daring escape in a stolen TIE fighter. Overall, the issue feels stiff and awkward. Even Frank Martin’s vibrant and eye-catching colors feel too stimulating for the book.
As a first issue, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” #1 doesn’t quite cut it. Without that spark that made “The Force Awakens” special, it reads like a blunt summary of the film. Since they don’t add anything new, Wendig and Ross just don’t provide any incentive to return to the series. Nevertheless, you can still be immersed in a galaxy far, far away; just leave this series behind and use your credits to buy “Star Wars: Poe Dameron” or “Star Wars: Han Solo” instead.