The final act of The Force Awakens begins in this issue.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Force Awakens #5.
The Force Awakens #5
Writer: Chuck Wendig | Artist: Luke Ross | Colorist: Frank Martin | Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles| Cover Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
The Force Awakens #5 resumes the story at the Resistance Base on D’Qar. Poe realizes that Finn survived their escape from the First Order at Jakku. He then recruits Finn to find assistance in freeing Rey from Kylo Ren. Meanwhile, General Organa reviews the map that BB-8 carried. Han and Leia briefly discuss their son and Leia’s desire for his return.
Back at Starkiller Base, Rey awakens and finds Kylo Ren observing her. She challenges him to remove his mask, which he does. This is the first time Kylo’s face is revealed during the comic adaptation. Next, Kylo attempts to extract the map from her mind using the Force. However, Rey resists and probes back into Kylo’s mind. Fearing that Resistance will locate Luke Skywalker, Supreme Leader Snoke orders the destruction of the Resistance using Starkiller Base’s primary weapon.
However, the Resistance learns that the First Order plans to attack. Therefore, they begin planning an attack of their own on Starkiller Base. With Finn’s insider knowledge, the figure out a weak point. First, they have to disable the shields. Finn claims he can do that. Han Solo volunteers to get Finn onto Starkiller Base.
Drawing upon the Force, Rey manages to free herself from her cell. Finn, Han, and Chewbacca arrive at Starkiller Base and disable the shields. Next, they quickly locate Rey and move to escape. Before they can do so, they notice that the Resistance attack on the base is not going well. Han and Chewbacca then plant bombs in the base hoping to give the Resistance an edge. The issue ends with Kylo Ren killing Han Solo after Han attempted to persuade his son to return to the light.
One thing comic readers look for in a movie adaptation is additional story material. Specifically, the hope is that scenes that didn’t make the film will resurrect themselves in the comic. This issue of The Force Awakens provides a little bonus in that regard. First, readers get to see Finn, Han, and Chewbacca follow through on their threat to dump Captain Phasma in the trash compactor. Unfortunately, the humor of John Boyega’s response to Han Solo from the film is lost in this panel.
Second, there is a minor addition to Han Solo’s confrontation with Kylo Ren. As Han steps onto the bridge to reason with his son, Leia’s words run through his head. “There’s still light in him,” and “You’re his father…” echo as he confronts Kylo. It’s a nice touch. It adds needed gravity to these panels. The anguish and determination on Harrison Ford’s face in the film does not translate to the page. Therefore, these additional words demonstrate his motivation.
Reactions That Don’t Work
The comic adaptation of the film has difficulties capturing some of the spirit of the film. This is primarily due to the lack of motion. In addition, The Force Awakens is not a short movie. Wendig and Ross have a lot to jam into each issue of this series. In fairness, the shortcomings of this series frequently result from attempts to replicate comedic timing or deliberate cinematic pacing.
One area that suffers, as a result, is reaction panels. For instance, as Kylo Ren attempts to extract the map from Rey’s mind, she begins to push back through the Force. Rey’s expressions as she struggles in her restraints are some of the best illustrations in this book. However, Kylo’s shocked reaction when Rey proclaims that he fears he will never be as strong as Darth Vader pales by comparison. Kylo looks very weak and very afraid. In fact, he looks cowardly. This panel overstates Kylo’s reaction as portrayed in the film.
The biggest moment of this issue undoubtedly is Han’s death. The reactions that follow are a letdown. First, Chewbacca roars. If it weren’t for the fact this panel followed one depicting Han being impaled, it wouldn’t be clear Chewbacca was reacting to Han’s death. Rey is next. Her reaction is salvaged by the text in her panel as she screams, “Nooooo!” Without that, it wouldn’t be clear what she was doing. Finn simply looks like he smelled something from the trash compactor they threw Captain Phasma in. Leia looks like she is taking a nap.
The Iconic Death
Despite the lackluster reaction, Han Solo’s death scene was particularly well done. The sequence that begins with Han seeing Kylo walk onto the bridge and ends with his death comprises more than three pages. Wendig made a wise decision devoting that much space to Han’s death. Han Solo is one of the top three most iconic parts of Star Wars. It would have been a disservice to portray his death quickly. Wendig found the appropriate balance in this issue.
Throughout this series, I have wondered if perhaps the plan wasn’t to make this series look like the adaptation of the original trilogy. Comics in the seventies and eighties had a more limited color palette. Frequently, backgrounds were neglected in favor of additional detail for the characters. Many panels in this issue favor minimalist backgrounds. The character portrayals are not overly complex compared to many comics today. Or, this just may be the style chosen for the book.
Issue four of this series was the high point thus far. The Force Awakens #5 didn’t quite match up to the quality of the previous issue. It helps to think of this book as a way of experiencing the film without the availability of the film. Familiarity with the film based on the ready availability of the movie on DVD hinders the enjoyment of this comic. This series will conclude in issue six.
Favorite Panel of Star Wars: The Force Awakens #5
Despite my criticism of some of the reaction panels in this issue, one such panel is perhaps the best panel in this book. One of the better lines in the film occurred after Finn confessed he didn’t know how to bring down the shields on Starkiller Base. Han Solo angrily reminds him that the galaxy is counting on them. Finn pleads that they will figure it out and that they will “use the Force.” Han’s growls his response, “That’s not how the Force works!” It was a great line in the movie. The panel containing his line is one of the best, if not the best, illustrations of Han in the entire series. For those reasons, it is the favorite panel for The Force Awakens #5.
Dennis Keithly is a graduate of the University of Missouri, North Texas attorney, husband, father of two, and co-host of Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels. In addition to Star Wars, Dennis is a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes in general. When not engaged in fictional universes, Dennis is reading a good book or watching the NHL, football, or studying the NFL draft.