Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Emilio Laiso, Roland Boschi, Marco Turini
Colorist: Andres Mossa, Rachelle Rosenberg, Neeraj Menon
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Artists: Terry and Rachel Dodson
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Ho, ho, ho!
It’s not Christmas, unless you’re a fan of Jabba the Hutt. In that case, Merry Christmas! Your favorite space slug crime boss just got his own one-off comic in Marvel’s Star Wars: Age of Rebellion — Jabba the Hutt #1.
We never learn the exact placement of this story in Star Wars canon, but we can assume it takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back like the other installments of Age of Rebellion. This issue finds the titular space slug at the height of his power on Tatooine. So get ready for a unique look at the everyday operations of an intergalactic gastropodal crime boss.
When I first saw the Age of Rebellion line-up, I felt some disappointment. Most of the characters headlining these one-shots have already had entire miniseries to themselves. But issues like this play to the strengths of one-shot storytelling. Jabba the Hutt #1 focuses on a character who likely couldn’t support his own miniseries or film. A one-shot comic is just enough Jabba.
In reality, His Greatness only appears in about a third of the issue. But you feel his shadow across every panel. Writer Greg Pak understands Jabba’s integral simplicity. A good Jabba story must be told around Jabba, not directly about Jabba. Instead, Pak focuses on some freelancing smugglers from the Outer Rim looking to cut a deal. The resulting tale takes a heist-story turn as multiple unsavory parties converge on one goal, resulting in a twist that I honestly didn’t see coming.
Three artists tackle this issue, which feels excessive for a single-story one-shot. The mid-issue swap jars you out of the story for a second, especially when switching from the clean style of the first few pages to the gorgeous, gritty style of Marco Turini (which feels perfect for this desert-bound mob story). Given the drastic difference in styles, I thought the switch might serve some narrative purpose. It doesn’t appear to do so.
Jabba himself also comes across as quicker and cleverer than the Jabba of the films. Maybe this simply results from the necessities of the medium. Instead of hearing Jabba’s iconic guttural slur, we receive his dialogue in constant translation with a “*Translated from Huttese” disclaimer.
But the films portray Jabba as a creature of appetites: falling asleep at podraces, downing Klatooine paddy frogs, disposing of servants on a whim even to his own detriment. His power doesn’t come from physicality or wit. It comes from influence. This issue, by contrast, portrays Jabba as a scheming puppet-master.
Then again, this doesn’t necessarily contradict the films. Perhaps it gives us a peek at how a largely immobile, drooling slug-monster comes to have so much influence in the first place.
One last super-nerdy quibble. This issue features several stunning panels of Sand People riding their banthas, side by side.
That’s right. Side by side. But these criticisms ultimately don’t detract from a fun adventure. The issue has lots of goodies for Star Wars junkies. Fans of the sequels and the prequels will love the way it unites elements from across the saga. But the story also delivers quality time with the desert planet we fell in love with at first, even exploring new aspects of native Tatooine cultures along the way. So if you dig that Original Trilogy vibe, or if you’re just a fan of scum and villainy, here’s a great one-shot for you.