Star Wars #21
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Jorge Molina and Matt Milla
Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
Be all that you can be — join the Empire.
They say one man’s revolutionary is another man’s terrorist, and Jason Aaron and Jorge Molina illustrate this to great effect in Star Wars #21, following the heroic Stormtroopers of Task Force 99 as they fight against the Rebel insurgency. By flipping the script with their badass platoon, Aaron and Molina deliver a brisk and action-packed new dynamic to the tried-and-true Star Wars universe.
While some have been skeptical about the feasibility of the expanded Star Wars anthology stories such as Rogue One or the Han Solo prequel, I’d hold up Star Wars #21 as proof that you can tell a compelling narrative without Luke, Vader, Han or Leia — instead, Aaron gets deep inside his faceless Stormtrooper’s head, giving him compelling motivation for wearing that white armored suit. “The Empire gave my people jobs,” our narrator, Sarge, says. as his platoon hunts down a pack of Rebel soldiers. “They gave us a purpose. They gave us peace.”
But while Aaron gives us a clever spin on the Stormtrooper conceit, it’s Jorge Molina that really shines here. Because the story is predominantly faceless characters, Molina gets to showcase his character design skills in other ways, with each of his Stormtroopers having unique variations in their armor to distinguish themselves. Sarge, for example, has a unique shoulder bracer, while another wears a hooded poncho, while a third has three combat knives across his chest. But additionally, because Molina doesn’t have to worry about facial expressions, his style comes across as extremely similar to Stuart Immonen’s, particularly with his fluid action choreography as Sarge hijacks a nearby speeder.
People have joked about the Galactic Empire’s inherently stable infrastructure compared to a chaotic Rebel revolution, but it’s to Aaron and Molina’s credit that they’re able to take this Band of Brothers approach to the typical Imperial cannon fodder and execute it so well. Even though these characters are new — indeed, we don’t even know what they look like — Aaron sketches them out with wonderful detail, and Molina really outdoes himself with this action-heavy installment. They say Stormtroopers can’t shoot straight, but Star Wars #21 seems to hit right at the bullseye.