23rd Feb2018

‘Star Wars: Thrawn #1′ Review

by Dan Clark

Written by Jody Houser | Art by Luke Ross | Published by Marvel Comics

star-wars-thrawn-1-cover

Star Wars: Thrawn #1 brings with it a different set of expectations than some of the other Marvel Star Wars title. Unlike those Thrawn is not a character created in the films, nor he is like Doctor Alpha and created in house. He rose to prominence as a character during the explosion of the Star Wars expanded universe. It is unlikely Thrawn will be showing up in the actual films so this will most likely be the only place fans will be able to experience the character. That might explain why the sole purpose of this first issue was to showcase his prowess as a character.

Here we see Thrawn rise through the Imperial ranks. Starting first as a prisoner of war and eventually becoming a working Lieutenant. It is somewhat odd to see a book of this nature to be focus on what is basically space college. He has to navigate the political and social ranks of the Empire while dealing with constant persecution due to being an alien. He does have something special about him as he is a born warrior and tactician. His skills does not go unnoticed as The Empire himself found favor with him. Giving him an advantage over his fellow peers. An advantage he plans to use.

Much of the emotional core of the series rests in the relationship between Thrawn and his interpreter Cadet Vanto. Due to his inexperience with the basic language Thrawn uses Vanto as a key piece to ensure he is fully comprehending what is being said. Although you do wonder if the use of Vanto is just another tactic for Thrawn. As he always wants to be a few steps ahead of everyone, making people underestimate his grasp of the language would be a good way to do it. There are other aspects of their relationship that makes you wonder if there is more to Thrawn than his drive.

There is no question Thrawn is using Vanto but at times there is a courtship between them. Thrawn appears to have a level of respect for Vanto outside of his necessary value. That dynamic is by far the most interesting aspect of the book so far. You wonder if he actually cares for Vanto in any way, or is he simply doing everything for his own benefit. Even when he does something as selfless as take literal punches for Thrawn there may be a hidden agenda behind his sacrifice.

What is missing though is a better understanding of the underlying motivation of Thrawn. Clearly he is hungry for power, but where that push is coming from was not really explored. His is this capable enigma that is waiting to be fleshed out more as a general character. It was surprising to see a book like this be solely character driven. It’s a risk that almost paid off in full. It was so dialog heavy that the pace did get bogged down at times with no place to go.

Artwise Luke Ross’s cartooning did enough to get the job down. He was not given a lot to showcase his talent, which made the utilization of the nine panel grid somewhat surprising. The nine panel grid is a tricky beast that can be amazing when used well, or highlight some of your story problems when used poorly. Here it was somewhere in the middle. Never did it hurt the story but never did it seem like a choice that benefited either. If anything the more it stepped away from that format the better the issue became.

In general major fans of the character of Thrawn will be happy they are taking the time to build up his mythos within the Star Wars lore. Some may take issue with a dry story that lacks any major action or adventure. You do have to give it credit at least for trying to separate itself from the other Star Wars titles.

***½  3.5/5

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