Books for Babes provides info on the sort of comics that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. This week we recommend ‘Star Wars Adventures’, an ongoing all-ages anthology series from IDW Publishing set in that galaxy far, far away.
THIS REVIEW OF ‘STAR WARS ADVENTURES’ #10-12 IS SPOILER-FREE.
By Stefania Rudd. In 2017 IDW Publishing announced that it would launch an all-ages series (aimed specifically at beginning readers) that would tell stories featuring various characters in the Star Wars universe. Almost a full year later the series has made good on that promise, digging even deeper into the Lucasfilm roster to shed light on lesser-known characters for newer, younger audiences.
To make this work as well as it does, Adventures relies on a number of creative teams, rotating their talents between the lead story of an issue and its wonderful back-up features. This anthology format allows IDW to feature fresh perspectives on the 40+ year-old franchise, even granting a bit of creative freedom from within the hallowed canon. And through it all, the established legends, the marquee characters, the iconography—it’s all there, keeping things grounded and recognizable.
In the past year IDW has led us on individual adventures with characters such as Rey, Finn, Luke and Leia, Rose Tico, the crew of The Ghost—and even some of our favorite droids, including C-3PO. There are no limits in Adventures, none that we’ve experienced so far, anyway; no shortage of characters, planets or wild situations, and that wealth of material, mixed with such astounding creative teams, makes Star Wars Adventures a very sustainable one, indeed.
For example, issues #10 and #11 reach back into Star Wars lore for a two-part story that features a young Han Solo and Chewbacca, where they battle bounty hunters as well as murderous drones. In its latest issue, #12, we’ve begun the first part of a story involving fated paramours Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker, who steal away on a quick trip for a little rest and relaxation only to find themselves soon after fighting for their lives. As mentioned, each issue comes with short back-up stories that involve fan-favorite characters like Lando and Neesha Tor. While the lead stories focus on action and adventure with characters using their strengths and wits to get out of a sticky situation, the back-ups are more fable-like, imbued with life lessons and morality plays. And there’s a metafictional element at play, too; these shorts are a collection gathered and related back to us by a Star Wars character created specifically for Adventures, cartographer Emil Graf, which is another great way to establish a sense of continuity throughout the series.
And while the creative teams in this anthology series may vary, there is a very consistent tone in writing and art overall. The dialogue is full of banter, and has a casualness to it that makes it easy to read. At times its vocabulary can be more advanced, but overall this series’ use of technical terms and how they’re applied to the story can be used to help younger readers improve their comprehension skills to great effect.
Perhaps the greatest strength of Star Wars Adventures is its appeal to fans of the Star Wars saga. They easily tie in to movie events and the Disney animated shows. (For instance, issues #10 and #11 were released around the same time Solo: A Star Wars Story hit theaters.) The writers do a great job of building on that cross-promotional interest; by having a character’s on-screen voice come through, the Adventures cast allows the reader to see their favorite character’s personalities take form on the comics page. (As an example, in issue #12 Padmé’s level-headed resolve shines through just as the conflict begins to heat up.) As for the artwork, each team’s personal flavor remains, yet they still retain an aesthetic cohesion from issue to issue. (It helps that artists Elsa Charretier and Derek Charm have styles that compliment each other very well.) Styles range from cartoonish (but not juvenile) to semi-realistic, and the amount of details given to these characters and their corresponding scenery provides an easy immersion into the stories for fans old and young.
There are limitless possibilities in Star Wars Adventures. It ventures beyond what we know about the Star Wars universe, filling in story beats the films and animates series may leave behind. What are these characters doing when we aren’t watching or reading about them elsewhere? We want to assume they have full, interesting lives—who wouldn’t want the best for their beloved characters? Star Wars Adventures gives us access to new stories, but it also helps us better understand what has helped make this saga so special, how it has endured for generations—and how it will continue to thrill fans for generations to come.
IDW Publishing/$3.99 each
Written by Cavan Scott (#10 & #11); Elsa Charretier and Pierrick Colinet (#12).
Art by Derek Charm (#10 & #11); Elsa Charretier (#12)
Colors by Matt Herms (#11); Sarah Stern (#12)
Letters by Tom B. Long (#10-12)
This book contains space hi-jinks, technical jargon, and occasional blaster fire.
Age range: Intended for all ages.
‘Star Wars Adventures’ #13 hits stores August 29.