Better late than never right? Happy belated Life Day to you reader! Go check out the Holiday Special if you haven’t already, after all, ‘tis the season. We may have missed it by a few weeks but you see, my professors, they don’t exactly celebrate Life Day, so this round-up had to get a tad delayed. But here we are, and with a bunch of comics to review! Obviously, we have Life Day #1 to cover, but also some top-notch noir with Trail of Shadows #2 as well as our first taste of Crimson Reign with Doctor Aphra #16. The High Republic Adventures also blazed on into its tenth issue as that series, at least for phase one, comes to a close. And finally, last but not least, well, maybe least, is the final issue of The Monster of Temple Peak. Plenty of good stuff here to dive into, so let’s waste no more time and get into it!
Life Day #1
If you ever have the sudden urge to don a red robe and traverse space-time to celebrate the holidays with the big space bears, this issue is probably for you. Life Day #1 is a collection of shorts that creates a fun little view into all the various Life Day shenanigans that Han and Chewie have gotten up to during their journey through the galaxy far far away…but also Nib Assek and Burryaga? From The High Republic? Yeah, so my biggest issue here is the lack of stronger connective tissue. I could string Die Hard, Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone all together and add some narration between the three and call it “Christmas #1”, and they’d all technically take place on Christmas…see where I’m going here? These tales are pretty cool in their own right, lots of fun action and clever beats, but when you contain them to seven pages each and jam them all together it feels a tad disjointed. Not to mention, each story is a different set of artists and writers, so on top of getting era whiplash, there’s some art whiplash too. Further on that point, the main connective story takes place when Han has lost the Falcon, so deep into the New Republic era, but he looks maybe 35 years old at most. In fact, he looked older in both of the flashbacks. All in all, this one-shot was quirky, goofy, and sometimes weird in the wrong way, so a lot like the actual Holiday Special.
Doctor Aphra #16
Awwww yeah, Aphra is back! The aptly named Resurrections written by Alyssa Wong and penciled by Minkyu Jung has capitalized on the momentum set up at the end of War of the Bounty Hunters, bringing the Aphra series back into its campy delightfulness. Crazy artifacts, absurd twists, and an apt amount of lethal women, our heroes are back in the employ of Domina Tagge. Aphra, still damaged from wielding the Thought Dowser, has Dominia repair her electro-tattoos, and in return, has herself and Sana sent back out hunting for Ascendant artifacts. Meanwhile, Lucky and Ariole are revealed to have been met with the now signature smile of Qi’ra and the revelation that their mentor, Gallin Crae, survived their assassination attempt. How that side of the story plays out is still largely unknown, but the implication at the moment is Ariole joined the Dawn while Lucky didn’t. On Coruscant, Aphra and Sana are met with a mysterious figure in their path who I think could be the one-droid murder circus that is Triple Zero. Then finally, to cap the issue, the long anticipated return of Ronen Tagge! And I don’t think he’s too pleased about being incinerated by Aphra and co. This is a great start to the Crimson Reign era of Doctor Aphra, and a good sign that this time, the crossovers will still connect, but have enough room to have some fun of their own.
High Republic Adventures #10
Qort unleashed! The blue man can kick some serious Nihil ass. After his mask is broken by the bombing last issue, Qort single-handedly defends Takodana from Krix’s raid. This issue marked the finale of the Back Together and Away arc and it proved to be solid the whole way through. Seeing Maz again was a lovely treat, and Sav Malagan has been an excellent addition to the ranks of High Republic Jedi. The best moment of all though came at the end, as our crew embraced as friends, seeing Qort’s face for the first time, hitting us right in those Star Wars themes and feels. This run of comics continues to impress me as it makes itself essential reading for The High Republic. Don’t skip this one based on its IDW label, which admittedly has made much less essential content in the past, this series is not to be slept on!
Trail of Shadows #2
Talk about range, Older jumps from The High Republic Adventures into this enthralling mystery thriller that is becoming Trail of Shadows. Each panel oozes noir, much to the credit of David Wachter’s excellent art. The splash page of our two leads is brilliant, the way it’s constructed I can practically see it on the big screen. In addition, it is always cool to see novel characters depicted in comic form. Lina Soh and her Targons are super sweet, and there was even a little cameo from Ghirra Starros. On the story side of things, the promised pairing of Emerick Caphtor and Sian Holt has finally occurred. This detective duo is hot the heels of Arathab Fal, the almost beast-like Tarnab who was fighting Sian last issue, and apparently, he’s in cahoots with Dr. Uttersond! I’ve yet to make sense of the Nihil of it all, they seem to be after Fal like the Republic, but why? Otherwise, this issue continues all the positive momentum of the last, I was interested then and remain interested now. The Wandering Star gets a mention, from a Pau’an no less, a fun little nod to Last Shot that I appreciate as a canon junkie. I’ve got nothing but praise for this miniseries so far and I hope that sentiment continues.
The Monster of Temple Peak #4
After being revealed in January 2021, the once graphic novel now miniseries, The Monster of Temple Peak, has finally come to a close. The last round-up I voiced some of my disappointment with the series, and unfortunately, some of it still remains. Overall, the series was not bad, but your mileage may vary. It was a cool character piece about Ty, providing some insight into her past, but those stellar moments were surrounded by some pretty average Star Wars side story. Unfortunately, most of the story surrounding the people of Wyke Town was uninteresting to me. I will say though, the Gretalax (THE monster of temple peak) was extremely cute when fully reunited. As aforementioned, the flashbacks are the best part and the death of Klias was brutal in its simplicity (as seen above), the fight gave me all I needed to understand why Ty tries not to take sentient life and left the order in the dust. There is a little hook with Drewen, but personally, I don’t need to see that story. I’m confident though, that if Cavan Scott does tell it, there will be something cool to take away from it.
And that’s this week’s comic Round-up!
Next time, things get juicy! The Crimson Reign begins in full force with the eponymous premiere issue as well as the other runs, from Star Wars to Bounty Hunters, enter into this new era. From what I’ve seen so far in Doctor Aphra, the more independent nature of these tie-ins makes this loose crossover event retain all the connectivity of War of the Bounty Hunters while increasing the scope and storytelling potential tenfold. Until the next time reader!