Star Wars: The Force Awakens Comic Adaptation Review

So, for this review, I’m not necessarily going to be talking about the story. I’ll bring up certain plot points from the movie, but only when I’m discussing certain changes this comic makes. I’ll save my more detailed thoughts on the movie itself for when I do my review retrospective in December, in which I’ll be reviewing the original trilogy, the 1978 holiday special and the Force Awakens, leading up to the release of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

Let’s start with the covers.

All six covers, the ones I got anyway, are great. I actually wouldn’t be shocked if some of these were in consideration to be actual posters for the movie but were rejected obviously to avoid spoilers, specifically ones regarding Rey. And speaking of Rey, my personal favorite of the 6 is the cover of issue 6, which is why I set it as the featured image for this review. There’s not that much to it, but the detail in the artwork is fantastic. A close tie for my favorite is the cover for issue 4; Rey looking into the blade of the Skywalker saber and in the blade, we see some of the imagery from her vision she receives when she first touches it. It perfectly sums up what Rey sees in the vision and the emotional reaction it brings out of her in that scene and the coloring is perfect, giving off the same ominous feeling the scene provided. My least favorite of the 6 would probably have to be the cover for issue 2. There’s nothing really wrong with the artwork. The almost painting-like style looks nice. What bugs me is Poe’s pained face in the background. It just looks really off.

Okay, enough about the covers. How does the comic itself hold up? Unfortunately, the comic does not do the movie a lot of justice. There are 3 reasons why:

First, the artwork is mixed at best. Sometimes it’s great and the artwork in the comic looks exactly like the actors. But other times, I swear Finn and Rey look like Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. There’s also a couple scenes from the movie that the artwork doesn’t do justice to, but I’ll get to that later. But hey, just because the artwork isn’t great, that doesn’t mean the story can’t keep me invested. For example, one of my favorite comics I’m following is the DC Rebirth Flash book. While I’m not crazy about the artwork, the story and characters keep me invested and want to keep reading. And with the comic being based on such an awesome movie, the story in the comic should be just as good.

Second, the pacing is off. For some reason, the story feels really rushed. You’ll see a scene you remember from the movie, but by the time you’re ready to see it play out like it did in the movie, it’s already over and going into the next scene. And like I said, there are moments they change from the movie. Yeah, it’s an adaptation and there’s gonna be changes. But they have to be changes that make sense. I know there are things people didn’t like, but they change the tiniest things like bits of dialogue. Again, for no discernible reason. Were people really complaining about the way Finn and Poe introduced themselves to each other(then again, I did once come across someone who hated the movie because of, and I’m not kidding, the ventral cannons. You know. Those missile launchers Hux tells an officer to use on the TIE Fighter Finn and Poe stole? No. Of course you don’t. And if you do, it’s only because I just vaguely described the scene they were featured in.)?

There are several other moments they change, but I only wanna focus on two. Firstly, remember the really funny scene where BB-8 uses his little lighter component to give Finn a thumbs up? Remember the speed, energy and facial expressions from Finn that made the scene so memorably funny? Well how bout we suck out all that speed and energy from the shots of that scene where they give each other thumbs ups(though I’ve seen some suggest that BB-8 was actually flipping the bird at him… which the more I think about it actually would make more sense.) and shorten it down to one shrunken panel and replace Finn’s smile of relief with a blank stare?

And remember that epic moment where Kylo Ren attempts to pull the Skywalker saber out of the snow with the Force, but it flies right past him and into Rey’s hand, the music swells, Rey ignites the saber with that look on her face that says “I’m scared out of my mind and I have no idea how to properly use this thing, but I know what I have to do.”, Kylo Ren reignites his saber and then Rey has her look of determination before she makes her first swing or stab or whatever that first move was? Well let’s take away both of those expressions that said so much and instead replace it with her looking at the blade when it’s activated and have the first few action shots put into several mini panels, resulting in extremely little detailed and confusing drawings and Rey yelling “YAAAH!” for some reason. First of all, why would Rey be so shocked by the sight of the blade? And no, it’s not a look of wonder or something. That would’ve been something interesting to add to and possibly advance the scene in some way. And speaking of which…

Third, there is so much wasted potential. With every film, not every scene or idea ends up on screen. Not every scene ends up in the final cut and some scenes that were in the script don’t even get filmed. The Force Awakens is no exception. One of the big questions people have about the movie is this. How did Poe escape from the crashed TIE Fighter and make it back to the Resistance, in turn allowing him to lead the Resistance fleet when the First Order attacks Maz Kanata’s castle. Well guess what? I don’t know what exactly happens, but apparently in the novelization of the movie, there is a scene that shows how Poe escaped and got back to the Resistance? Would it really be too much to put that scene in the comic? If the book can be extended version of the movie, why can’t the comic have those extra scenes too? Why not put in some of the deleted scenes and/or some of the scenes that never even got filmed? Or for crying out loud. You could at least humor Daisy Ridley a bit and put in something that indicates Rey is whistling in that scene where she sleds down the hill from the crashed star destroyer.

Also, why are there barely any caption boxes across the 6 issues? I only recall the first issue having any and it was during the Millennium Falcon dogfight giving some vague details about the battle of Jakku. What, did the writers put that in, but then say “Oh crap, we can’t put more. We might reveal stuff that they don’t want to reveal till later.”?

Okay, I need to be clear that I don’t hate this comic. I just feel disappointed by it. So is there anything I do like that the comic changes. Well there is one thing. Issue 6 opens with the scene of Han falling after Kylo Ren runs him through with his lightsaber. This isn’t something that bugs me or anything, but in the movie, Han has this pained look as he touches Kylo Ren’s face before he falls off the bridge. It goes without saying that being stabbed like that would be painful, but I find the way it’s done in the comic somewhat more powerful because, probably partially due to it being a still image, Han has a simple look of sadness before he falls. It gives more of an indication that the face touch was his way of saying “I love you and I forgive you.” And when it cuts to Leia sensing Han’s death, there is an added panel of her burying her face in her hands.

But honestly, I can only recommend this comic if you’re remotely curious to see what the movie looks like in comic form or simply for Star Wars collecting purposes, the latter being half the reason I didn’t unsubscribe from it and the other reason being I was still holding out hope that it would add something.

For comic reviews, instead of rating what I’m reviewing with my usual out-of-5 system, I’ll rate a comic as Skip, Buy or Collect. Skip means it’s not worth your time or money, Buy meaning it’s good and at least worth taking a look, and Collect meaning it is fantastic and is a must buy. I love the movie, but unfortunately, the comic adaptation is a Skip.

Phew! I don’t think I’ve written a review that long since my old review for Deadpool. Anyway, next time, I take a look at M. Night Shyamalan’s big comeback as a great director, Split.

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