REVIEW: Star Wars #39 – “The Pendulum of the Force Swings”

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Star Wars #39

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciller: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Guru e-FX
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Release Date: 11/22/17
Price: $3.99

The Rebels aren’t afraid to risk their lives fighting the Empire, but they need help. Can they get the Partisans to trust them and work together?

Plot: Leia, Han and Luke go to the Partisans in hopes that they can team up to stop the Empire from collecting the Kyber crystals found on Jedha. Increasing threats from the Empire force the two sides to work together despite their differences.

Story: Star Wars #39 is the second issue since new writer Kieron Gillen came on aboard, as well as a continuation of “The Ashes of Jedha” storyline. Bringing in the Partisans, the group formerly led by Saw Gerrera, adds a new facet to the Star Wars story and allows Gillen to contrast two very different groups both working for the same goals. Not to say the Rebels can’t have serious, dark story lines, but the Partisans view their work through a different lens leading to a much heavier story.

Their leader Benthic provides a great foil to Leia and the Resistance, providing a grittier look at the costs of fighting the Empire. While Luke initially balks at their tactics, he comes to see there is more than one way of looking at the situation. Eventually, the groups do come together which should lead to an exciting next issue.

Fear not, Gillen does catch some of the trademark humor expected when you have that trio together, which prevents the book from becoming too depressing.

Star Wars #39

As a reader, I also appreciated the time spent on the main enemies of the arc, Commander Kanchar and Queen Trios. Often times I find Star Wars stories suffering from underdeveloped villains of the week who seem like slightly different versions of the same guy. Instead, Gillen does more to pique our interest and even gives Kanchar a scene where he praises Saw  Gererra’s skill as a fighter, lamenting the men the Empire provides are less talented. It shows Kanchar isn’t just another mindless, forgettable officer but someone who isn’t blindly submitting to the Empire. Queen Trios also exhibits her own evil and cunning.  I’m excited to see what this dastardly duo does next.

Art: Normally I’d use the word “uneven” to describe a plot, but in this case, it’s the art. On one hand, Larocca is talented at drawing the world these characters inhabit.  Larroca’s art shines in the scenes depicting Jedha, where we get a feel for how much destruction the planet has seen. You can almost feel the dust gathering in your lungs as they make their way through the fallen city. The action sequences are also very solid in the book with Luke showing off his blossoming lightsaber skills. 

Star Wars #39

On the other hand, the hyper-realism of the faces make it look like they’re photoshopped into the art. They stand out and not in a good way. Despite being from one artist, it makes it look like two different people are working on the book with very different styles. Maybe some readers won’t mind, but for me, it distracts from the great work being done. 

The coloring this arc from Guru e-FX nicely balances the washed out greys and browns of Jedha with the high saturation blues and blacks of the scenes set in space.

Verdict: Star Wars (and especially Rogue One) fans who want to delve deeper into the Partisans’ resistance will enjoy this story. However, the art makes the issue less enjoyable for general comic fans who care about the whole package and not just the Star Wars mythology. Kieron Gillen continues to prove he knows how to play in the Star Wars space, but all the elements need to come together more for this to be a 5-star book.

Rating: 3.5/5


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