In the days before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the shifting sands of Jakku revealed the final resting place of the Imperial Star Destroyer Spectral. Since the Empire’s fall, the lost behemoth has become the stuff of legends and ghost stories among the desert dwellers. In the first issue of Star Wars Adventures: Destroyer Down, intrepid scavenger Rey races to be the first to the relic with junk boss Unkar Plutt and his cronies close on her heels. The second issue picks up with Rey repelling into a dark corridor of the scuttled ship. She comes across Z2-Z2, a rebel astromech droid who’s been aboard the Spectral since its last stand. Zeet helps her to safety and gives her an interface key with a holographic recording of rebel pilot Bak Rychuk. And the recording may just have the answers to how the Spectral came to be buried in the sand. The backup story, titled “The Ghost Ship,” takes place three decades earlier during the battle of Jakku. The Spectral comes out of hyperspace above Jakku badly damaged. Rebels Bak Rychuk and Zeet find themselves trapped on the star destroyer just as its experimental new weapon causes a critical systems malfunction.
Star Wars Adventures: Destroyer Down is a three-issue miniseries targeted at the next generation of comic book readers. And personally, I’m all for anything that encourages kids to read, especially comics. The writing and art style are appropriate for children, and, in my opinion, both issues would make a great holiday gift for any young Star Wars fan.
Writer Scott Beatty and artist Derek Charm’s appreciation for the cinematic source material comes through in every panel. The main story and the backup story (which features art by Jon Sommariva, Sean Parsons, and Matt Herms) complement each other well. “The Ghost Ship” provides the classic Star Wars visuals that every fan craves and a cool glimpse into a lesser-known battle of the rebellion. All the while, the mysteries of the Spectral unfold at a good pace. It’s genuinely engaging, and I’m particularly enjoying the interpretation of Rey. Beatty captures her bluntness and keen wit well in the dialogue, and Charm renders her facial expressions with the crafty coolness that’s become a hallmark of her character. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend that Destroyer Down be anyone’s first entry into the Star Wars Universe. The comic is strong enough to stand on its own, but because I’ve seen The Force Awakens and I know where Rey goes after leaving Jakku, I have a better appreciation for the story and the character. Also, Beatty and Charm make several clever winks and nods to the original Holy Trilogy which might get lost without at least some prior knowledge.
Overall, I enjoyed the staging of the characters, but there were some action sequences that I found difficult to follow. But it’s understandable because the setting is distinctly challenging. The interior of the Spectral is dark and the ship is pitched at a sharp angle, so the placement of the characters in relation to each other and their surroundings were sometimes unclear.
As you might imagine, the second part of a three-part story left several narrative threads dangling at the end. The creators have dedicated a fair amount of panels to the ghost stories surrounding the wreck of the Spectral and the experimental weapon that’s malfunctioning on the ship during the battle. I’m interested to see how both of these elements factor into the final act of the story. I’m also looking forward to see how they’ll connect Rey’s adventure on the Spectral to the story of The Force Awakens and beyond. Will they take this opportunity to reveal the secrets of Rey’s parentage in issue three? It seems unlikely, but there’s only one way to find out!
Creative Team: Scott Beatty (writer), Jon Sommariva (artist), Derek Charm (artist/cover artist)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
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