Thursday, March 1, 2012

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron: Battleground Tatooine

X-Wing Rogue Squadron: Battleground Tatooine


This TPB, collecting the Battleground: Tatooine arc along with an Apple Jacks promotional story (which I will also review here) was released in 1998. It was re-released in the second Rogue Squadron omnibus.


Story

Battleground Tatooine details Rogue Squadron's efforts to track down and confiscate Jabba the Hutt's weapons caches on Tatooine. Fringe elements led by Twi'lek Firith Olan and the disembodied brain of Bib Fortuna are first on the scene, attempting to put Huff Darklighter (Bigg's father) out of business. The Imperials show up later on to search for it too.

This story finally starts to show some straining with Rogue Squadron's formula and cast of characters. The cast, for the first time, feels too big for the story. More players are piled on to an already enormous dramatis personae, and the result is that Rogue Squadron's tertiary characters are given very little to do, and the antagonists aren't seen enough to develop any sort of connection with the reader.

Another problem is an extremely stupid plot point that sends our Rogues to Ryloth. The look at Ryloth and their political system is appreciated, but the story takes a turn for the worst here. Our heroes compete with Imperial representatives in a deadly game of capture the flag, a contest that ends with the Imperials defecting to the Rebellion. Sixtus, a melodramatic "honor" driven Imperial soldier, leads the group, and contributes some of the most cheesy, unbelievable lines in the book, while further compounding the problem of having too many characters.

Sixtus' terrible dialogue is somewhat of an outlier, however, as the book features generally impressive dialogue, including some great one liners by the various members of Rogue Squadron. The script mixes in some more serious moments too, such as when Wedge and his squad mates confront Biggs' Darklighter's father about the plans. Huff is less than understanding of the Rebellion's goals, and clearly looks down on Wedge for his actions during the Death Star I assault. This is one of the best character driven moments in the comic, though there are a few other solid exchanges.

Overall, Battleground Tatooine has the same type of action, characters, and tone that we have seen in the previous arcs of the series. Unfortunately, it runs out of space for its enormous cast, and the result is a comic that feels rushed, ultimately advancing the characters very little.

As for the bonus Apple Jacks story, it is a highly embarrassing 14 page tale about Rogue Squadron's liberation of some backwater world that is never heard from again. Nothing of any importance happens, the art is mediocre at best, and the ending is unbelievably stupid. Not a selling point for the collection.

Art

Battleground Tatooine's art is uninspired throughout. There is really nothing that makes it stand out, and it is markedly worse than the previous arc in nearly every way.

Ship designs are extremely uninspiring.
The first problem is in the ship design. Starships factor heavily in to the Rogue Squadron comics, and it was disappointing to see how poorly they were drawn here. They have very little detail and look markedly unattractive in most scenes. The space battles are put together well, but the ugly ships don't do any favors. On the bright side, explosions are cartoonish but fairly interesting. Ground battles are good too, in particular a wild chase scene following the Rogue's arrival at the Darklighter estate.

The stormtroopers look incredibly cheesy.
Secondly, character design is uninspired, particularly for the new characters.The stormtroopers are the worst offenders here, looking like something straight out of G.I. Joe or some similar action comic. They don't even wear their full suit of armor! Huff Darklighter looks weird too, an old sweaty fat guy with terrible hair. The antagonists fare poorly too. Semtin, the Imperial leader, has bizarre looking cybernetic eyes, while Firith is a relatively bland Twi'Lek. Our main characters look alright in most instances, though sometimes Winter is drawn to look TOO much like Leia.

Even "cantina scenes" fail to evoke the mystique of Tatooine.
I would have liked to see more of Tatooine's seedy side, too. Most of our time on Tatooine is spent in a desert or on Huff Darklighter's upper class estate. The comic fails to capitalize on the unique setting, it could have just as easily been a random desert world. There is very little background detail in most panels, and what little there is fails to impress. Even the scenes with Bib Fortuna and Firith are a bit too "clean" for my tastes.


Conclusion

Battleground: Tatooine isn't a terrible comic, but it is a decidedly mediocre one. Here we see an overabundance of characters and a lack of space for them all to receive proper development. The story is adequate, but little more, and the action scenes are hit or miss. The artwork is pretty bad, especially considering the fact that the previous arcs have had some occasionally great art.

Final Score

43/100

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