STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS by Alessandro Ferrari, Stefano Attardi, Marco Ghiglione, Roberto Santillo, Ken Shue
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Though the graphic novel maintains the film's compelling story, the work unfortunately falls short in being totally satisfying.
77 %
An entertaining but ultimately lackluster adaptation
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The latest addition to the STAR WARS franchise will hit theaters on December 15th. Until then, fans must satiate their anticipation through any new content. With this, fans can relive their experience of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS in a new medium through IDW Publishing’s graphic novel adaptation. The work upholds a close shot-for-shot recreation of the 2015 film through the interpretation of Alessandro Ferrari. It also maintains the same narrative without any new additions to the story. However, the graphic novel omits the smooth transitions that the film includes. So, though the tale remains the same, the graphic novel adaptation of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS presents new faults.

star wars: the force awakens
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

A Familiar Tale in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Luke Skywalker has vanished. The Resistance seeks his location as the power of the First Order rises. As this conflict escalates, a new generation of STAR WARS characters emerges. Sound familiar? That’s because the graphic novel presents the same exact story as the 2015 film, including the dialogue. I appreciate the work’s faithfulness to the source material. Ultimately, the work maintains an exciting storyline. However, the story feels a tad redundant after a while when the work adds no new content to enrich the story we already know. There are a lot of similarities to the original trilogy — perhaps too many similarities.

For example, the conflict surrounding Starkiller Base parallels the discord of the Death Star in the original STAR WARS trilogy.  Where the film succeeds in establishing its new characters, the graphic novel falters. It struggles to instill any emotional depth in the work’s significant characters and sequences since the narrative’s pace moves too quickly. Despite this, though, the work is ultimately an exciting, refreshing take on the new generation of STAR WARS.

The Force of the Plot

These narrative flaws can be attributed to the editing in which the transitions take place too rapidly. Sequences of the comic will immediately cut from one event to the other without any cohesiveness that would suggest the relationship between sequences. This may be most apparent in the sequence where Poe and Finn’s TIE Fighter crashes and the setting immediately shifts from this monumental event to Rey conversing with BB-8, an event that has a little more build-up in the film. Because of this, it is difficult for the plot’s significant events to leave an impact on the reader. In particular, we are left without a full understanding of the primary characters, disallowing us from identifying and sympathizing with them.

READ: Want to explore another universe outside of STAR WARS? Check out our review for STAR TREK: BOLDLY GO Vol. 1 right here!

Despite this though, the characterization of this work may be its strongest aspect in regard to its other flaws. The writers manage to succeed in depicting Rey as a formidable force, particularly in the final, climactic lightsaber battle against Kylo Ren. So, with this, Rey proves to be the most memorable character in the graphic novel as she showcases the most significant development through her journey from a scavenger to a Force-user.

The graphic novel adaptation of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS also struggles to find its audience. Though it is intended, according to the publisher, for a younger audience, I cannot help but wonder about the ultimate purpose of this adaptation besides appealing to a younger crowd. Other adaptations of the film have already been released, and many fans of the film may not necessarily want to read an abridged version of the film they can just watch. Though the adaptation may not have a consistent flow of pace or narrative, it still embodies the nature of the STAR WARS universe.

star wars: the force awakens
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

The Many Hues of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

Though the graphic novel’s palette maintains vibrancy, the artwork is a tad disappointing. The depiction of the film’s characters appears to be caricatures of the characters themselves. Unfortunately, this takes away from the more poignant moments of the story. With this though, the work does maintain the thrills of the film’s action sequences, which the color palette emphasizes. This is particularly noticeable in the sequence where General Hux holds a demonstration for the Starkiller Base’s destructive capabilities.

READ: What’s the problem with a franchise such as STAR WARS? Find out in our piece on Hollywood franchises, here!

Additionally, the lettering and distribution of panels throughout the graphic novel are creative. The depiction of BB-8’s dialogue is particularly enjoyable and impressive. You appreciate it even more when you consider how difficult it is to convey a droid’s speech. Along with this, the lettering tends to parallel each character, augmenting their characterization. It is a creative touch that enhances both the art and characters further.

So, in regard to the artwork, the backgrounds portray some beautiful design by the hands of Stefano Attardi, Marco Ghiglione, Roberto Santillo, and Ken Shue. They all depict intricate details that establish the current setting of a panel, embodying the vivid world of STAR WARS. Once again though, the portrayal of the characters prove to be distracting from the scenic illustrations. So, though the artwork sustains various positive aspects, the character design proves to be a major flaw.

What Happens Next?

For those who are seeking a STAR WARS work that will fill the void that will last until the release of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, this may not be the work for you. I believe it would have been beneficial to see some new additions to the story that corresponded with the narrative of the film. These would have contributed to an already engaging story, and the contribution would have helped maintain the reader’s interest. Unfortunately, in a story that has already been told in a different medium, it is hard to stay interested, especially when the adaptation is weaker than the original. The work maintains some beautiful coloring and faithfulness to STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Ultimately, though, the comic sadly fails to make a lasting impact.

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