Star Wars fans, especially now, aren’t the easiest community to please. Even the most level headed of we diehard fans are still hit or miss. One thing that tends to be generally agreed on however, whether you come from the Legends’ “Thrawn Trilogy” or the new canon’s Rebels, is that Grand Admiral Thrawn is a badass. Thrawn #1 sets out to begin telling the origin of our favorite blue imperial officer.
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
More often than we’d like, one of these Star Wars books takes a deep dive into a character but we discover all too late that there’s no story or substance. Sometimes it’s a popular character, like Darth Maul or Mace Windu, who is exploited in a way that diminishes the character’s appeal in order to connect dots in the background of Star Wars continuity.
In other cases, we get a book like Thrawn. Jody Houser takes us on a journey through the introduction of Thrawn to the Empire. Houser uses the character flawlessly and keeps his sinister under the surface. There’s no eye rolls or tired detours, Thrawn is a perfect example of why it’s worth exploring the spaces between the movies.
Thrawn provides an interesting opportunity as an imperial figure. The big bads of the Empire aren’t very vocal, they strike fear through what they don’t say rather than share a dastardly plan. Thrawn has no problem verbally laying out his plans because they’re already in effect and he’s way ahead of whoever they’re aimed at.
Taking some time to explain and explore the silly imperial officer rank plaques, that we’ve all seen for decades, is appreciated. These are the kind of details we want more light shed on in a book like this. We’d rather learn more about imperial ranks than how C-3PO ended up with a red arm.
One of the most striking things about the art is the lack of photo realism. The main Star Wars series is great but every issue is plagued by the copy and paste art style. It’s great to explore this era of the Star Wars timeline without trying to ignore that Luke’s face is taken from the Tosche Station scene.
Luke Ross deserves a big round of applause for taking the traditional art approach and absolutely knocking it out of the park. Perhaps if books like this continue to be successful, they’ll finally tell Salvador Larocca to knock it off.
Thrawn himself looks spectacular, especially the deep lue and red for his eyes and skin. It’s delightful when the Emperor appears and is an actual artist interpretation and not Ian McDiarmid’s head superimposed on a drawn body.
With most of the landscape being white and gray ship interiors, Thrawn’s color scheme makes for a satisfying contrast. Nolan Woodard doesn’t waste any opportunity to inject some life and color into each panel through Thrawn. It’s impossible to take your eyes off of him.
Thrawn #1 proves there’s plenty of story to tell here. The supporting cast pulls its weight without taking the spotlight away from our beautiful blue, future Grand Admiral. This first issue succeeds where other Star Wars minis have failed.