Thoughts on Captain Phasma #1

Captain Phasma was left to die in the trash compactor of Starkiller Base, so how did she survive and why did she so casually betray the First Order?  Captain Phasma #1 seeks to shed some light on these questions.

Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Captain Phasma #1

Captain Phasma #1 CoverWriter: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Andres Mossa

Cover Price: $3.99

Release Date: September 6, 2017

Amazon/Comixology Link

Collected in: Star Wars: Captain Phasma v1

It’s the galaxy’s big mystery: How did Captain Phasma survive the destruction of the Starkiller Base in the final moments of Star Wars: The Force Awakens? All will be revealed this September, when superstar writer Kelly Thompson (Hawkeye, Star Wars Annual) teams with blockbuster artist Marco Checchetto (Star Wars: Shattered Empire, Star Wars: Screaming Citadel) to bring you JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – CAPTAIN PHASMA #1, a four-part miniseries bridging the events between Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi!


Background

One of the most anticipated new characters of The Force Awakens was the tall, female stormtrooper in the chrome armor, Captain Phasma.  Sadly, as it turned out her role in The Force Awakens was greatly overstated by the previews and she ended up being underwhelming (joining the ranks of such classics as Zam Wessel and Return of the Jedi Boba Fett).  Now, almost two years later as we prepare for The Last Jedi Lucasfilms has finally decided that it is time for her character to be fleshed out.  A week ago the first part of this initiative was started with the novel Phasma which explored her origins on the planet Parnassus. This past week the more timely story of her escape from Starkiller Base has reached us in Captain Phasma #1.

Before we can talk about the first issue of the comic we have to talk a little about the book, since it helps explain her actions.  The novel Phasma is a far more brutal and gritty story than most we have had in Star Wars canon, and it showcases just how dedicated Phasma is to being the top dog of whatever society she is in.  Beginning from lowly roots she systematically betrays just about every person she ever encounters in her bid for power.  This is meant to showcase one point, and one point only: Phasma truly cares only about herself.  Her friends, her brother and even her parents are disposable tools that she can and will crush beneath her boots the moment they are no longer useful.

That’s why in The Force Awakens she agrees so easily to lower the defense shields on Starkiller Base.  She has no loyalty to the First Order, and she would rather risk the lives of millions of troops than struggle against the Resistance.  Of course, there is evidence of her stubbornness getting the better of her during her time on Parnassus in an event that benefited her not at all, but a lot can change in twelve years.  At the time of The Force Awakens she also would have had no reason to believe that the Resistance could do anything to Starkiller Base.  She only allies with those she perceives as strongest, and she is with the First Order for a reason.

General Thoughts

The comic Captain Phasma #1 is far less concerned with her motivations for betraying the First Order, and instead focuses on what she does to save her own skin after.  She frees herself from the garbage compactor easily enough and sets about wiping the memory logs of the terminal that she used to power down the shields.  As it turns out someone else has also recently used that terminal.  Whether that person knows what Phasma has done is a bit up in the air, but it does present Phasma with a viable scapegoat.  The rest of the issue is her attempting to trackdown the traitor that she has seemingly uncovered, while also escaping the base.

In terms of story you can see that not much happens here.  Phasma covers her tracks, identifies a scapegoat and then pursues that scapegoat.  As such the comic is driven heavily by a fair amount of action set pieces with Phasma and her target dodging fiery explosions with some references to events in The Force Awakens.  For instance, Kylo Ren’s duel with Rey and Finn in the forest is briefly scene as a series of glows through the treeline.  There is one scene of note that reveals some of Phasma’s underlying character where she orders a number of stormtroopers to hold their positions despite knowing full well by that point that Starkiller Base was doomed.  If there was any doubt left that Phasma views her First Order allies as worthless pawns, then it is gone after that scene.

Captain Phasma #1‘s emphasis on action places the bulk of the burden for carrying the comic on the art team of Marco Checchetto and Andres Mossa.  Fortunately they are up to the challenge and the comic feels dynamic and exciting.  The colors in particular pop and bring a lot of character to a part of The Force Awakens that was dominated by shadows and darker hues.  There are many exciting cinematic moments peppered throughout the comic, and on that front it is a great success.  There are a few missteps, however, and in a few cases the action was hard to follow on a panel-by-panel basis.

Phasma is a master of understatement. From Captain Phasma #1

Final Thoughts

Captain Phasma #1 is an admirable first issue in this mini-series, however there are lingering questions.  Foremost among them is how this story is going to be stretched into a full four issues.  There is only one plot thread we’re following at the moment, and given the urgency that Phasma must feel to resolve it I can’t imagine it lingering too long.  Something else is going to have to crop up to keep the story going, and at this point I can’t figure out what that might be.  Hopefully it will lead directly into The Last Jedi, but given the legacy that Journey to the Force Awakens left us two years ago, I’m assuming it won’t.  Still, as a starting point this is entertaining enough.  If you left The Force Awakens disappointed with Phasma’s portrayal in that movie then this comic may be worth checking out.  Time will tell whether the entire series can maintain the momentum, though.

Captain Phasma #1

3.99
Captain Phasma #1
85

Captain Phasma #1 Final Score

9/10

    Pros

    • Lovely art
    • Expands on one of Force Awakens most neglected characters
    • Start to see the promised bad-ass character

    Cons

    • Difficult to see how this will sustain four issues
    • Phasma still lacks dimension as a character