THRAWN #1 / Writer: Jody Houser / Artist: Luke Ross / Colorist: Nolan Woodard / Letterer: Clayton Cowles / Cover Artist: Paul Renaud / Publisher: Marvel / Release Date: February 14, 2018
This is a strange comic for me to review. Honestly it feels something like a re-read with more of a refocused lens on the look of the characters. Over a year ago Thrawn, the hit novel by Timothy Zahn, that solidified the artistic analyzing Chiss from Legends in New Canon material (along with his appearances in the Star Wars: Rebels animated series). It was phenomenal, and truly one of the best Star Wars novels I’d ever read. And while that is in no small part due to the pull of the character himself, Zahn, showed a intimate understanding of the workings of Thrawn’s complex mind and expressed it through several “inner thought” texts inserted between the lines of nearly every situation he was in. In Thrawn #1, we get to see the events of the novel unfold on the pages of a comic book, complete with amazing full color art.
So, when adapting things from one medium to another, some things change. For example, the pacing in a comic book seems to move much more quickly than in a novel. I enjoyed the break down of the opening scene in the book more, not because it wasn’t expressed well in the comic, but simply because the novel spent more time on explaining exactly how sabotaged the imperial troops. Admittedly, in the book it takes a couple of read throughs to understand what he did and how he did and helps paint a better picture of the depth that goes into Thrawn’s tactical skills. It sets precedence and makes for a great intro. In the comic the effect is lessened. However, I love the 9 panel spread used to show each of his actions on the first three pages nonetheless.
The Empire is in wild space looking for someone, but they didn’t know that this someone was a Chiss, a race that some folks of wild space thought to be almost mythical warriors of extreme tactical acumen. Marked by their blue skin and deep, red eyes, they easily stand out in a crowd. In any case, Thrawn’s initial attack on, and success in taking out multiple men impressed the commanding officer enough to take him back to the Emperor himself. The conversation here is one of my favorite as it expresses the way that Thrawn thinks in terms of loyalty. Even with having just met him, he commands a certain respect from Palpatine that few can in a first encounter.
I’d also like to note here that in the book, one of my favorite characters was Eli Vanto. Whenever I read his voice here, I can’t help but add a little bit of that southern style, wild space drawl that the novel did so well to define. He’s one of the truly kind-hearted officers of the Empire, a simple man who wanted to live a simple life as a soldier in supply, doing what he was good at with numbers. Of course, we know that in stories like this the characters almost never end up doing exactly what they think they will, and Vanto, thanks to his knowing the Sy Binti language of which is Thrawn’s primary tongue, is roped into being his liaison and translator.
The art in this book is enjoyable, and I particularly like the up close detailed shots. When it comes to the panel to panel art, the attention to detail is very nice in most of the panels, though here and there I could do for a little more. But this is minor. The best details are there where it counts. I initially though I could do for a little more expression in some situations, but then I thought about the characters we are dealing with. There are other points in which a person’s resting face does enough to do the job, such as Thrawn’s the Emperor’s, and even Deenlark’s. Character anatomy and body language is well expressed too.
I enjoy the colors but at some points I wish they were more layered and added more detail with shading, but they are bright and inviting nonetheless. There are other moments where they exceed my expectations. All in all, the book is visually appealing, and by no means do I find it to be lackluster. I particularly like the way Thrawn is drawn and colored, especially with the long hair. He looks something like an alien Fabio and I think the look works for him.
As I stated before, this was an interesting read for me after already having read the novel, but I think I’m enjoying it just as much. Jody Houser knows the right moments to bring out and does them well on the page, and Luke Ross and Nolan Woodard know how to bring us beautiful visuals to accompany that writing. I think I’ll be happy to review the rest of the series as it comes out. I certainly recommend this to any Star Wars fan.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 Locks of Luxurious Chiss Hair