Written by: James Robinson
Art by: Tony Harris
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I always love comics which take a relatively minor or support character and devote a full issue to explore them a bit–the more ridiculous the choice the better. Therefore, a C-3PO comic is already intriguing, and couple it with the dynamite creative team of James Robinson and Tony Harris of Starman fame and you’ve got a winning combination. Thankfully, despite skepticism due to delays, Star Wars: C-3PO manages to be a surprisingly heartfelt comic that delivers a touching story while building bridges between continuity.
The story centers around C-3PO and a team of droids becoming stranded on a planet while attempting to interrogate a First Order droid. The droids have to work together to survive on the hazardous planet while speculating on their purpose as machines. Oh, and of course we finally find out the reason for our friend’s new red arm (thankfully, otherwise I might not have recognized him).
For a story which I felt would exist solely for continuity purposes, there’s a surprising amount of depth and intrigue, with the droids raising questions not even touched on in the movies. While there still are continuity issues the comic takes time to deal with (including all the way back to the prequel trilogy), they’re handled very well and don’t overtake the story. Instead, the droids struggle to survive, and what that teaches them offers a more engrossing story. The interactions between 3PO and the enemy droid Ormi are the definite highlight, shinning a much more serious and intriguing light on 3PO than his comic relief role suggests. It’s exactly the sort of thing I wanted from the issue, and I’m glad Robinson puts the effort in to do something original with his foray into the Star Wars universe.
Tony Harris too brings a great deal of newness to the universe, with a lot of varied and impressive imagery on the hostile planet. While initially the layouts looked a little barren, the issue quickly becomes packed to bursting point with terrifying creatures and murky environments. There’s a very classic feel to the art, which really works in evoking Star Wars, while the script, with its inclusion of The Force Awakens continuity, drives toward a feeling of modernity. Occasionally there is a sense of rushed pages in some of the rougher character models, but there’s enough creativity in the layout (including a brilliant action scene with a horde of spiders) that make this comic well worth the wait.
There are still some flaws though, mostly in the dialogue. While a lot of recent Robinson stuff has been pretty wordy with lots of internal monologue, this issue manages to cut back on the monologues but with much clunkier dialogue. Given how a lot of the droids speak in R2-D2 style bleeps and bloops, we rely on the other characters to translate for us. While this is forgivable in the films given it’s only a few instances over large stretches, here the entire flow thrown off by characters needing to repeat exactly what an incomprehensible droid just said for no other reason than so the audience can understand it. It can be very immersion breaking and was pretty distracting early on in the comic, though thankfully settles down in the second half.
The pacing too feels a little quick at times; scenes will change rapidly, usually taking place on different parts of the planet and therefore featuring different environments. While I feel this way meant to convey the arduous and lengthy journey, the quick scene changes just made the planet feel oddly small and had the opposite effect by making the journey seem rather short and breezy. I was still largely satisfied by the time the story came to its end, but I think a few more pages may have helped here. It definitely works best as a one shot, and making it a mini would be a stretch, but I still felt it was all over a bit quickly.
Star Wars: C-3PO, however, is a wonderful surprise that proves you can take any element of the Star Wars legacy and tell an interesting story. This comic features an interesting cast, intriguing philosophical ideas for the Star Wars universe and a well told, heartfelt story. It’s definitely worth your time and money and has been more than worth the wait. Now if only Marvel could make an interesting Jar Jar Binks series I’d be convinced they can do no wrong with this license…