Droids: The Kalarba Adventures
The Kalarba Adventures is a 1995 trade paperback that collects the six issues of Droids: The Kalarba Adventures, along with the one shots "Star Wars Droids Special" and "Artoo's Day Out." Everything in the book was republished in the 2008 Droids omnibus.
Droids: The Kalarba Adventures is a fun, if simplistic, set of loosely connected stories that is perfect for younger Star Wars fans. Older fans will enjoy the collection as well, if they can get beyond the rather cheesy villains and a few cheesy storylines. The artwork is pretty solid, though the aliens and various background characters look awful.
The collection starts with a special edition that details how 3P0 and R2 came to be in the Kalarba system. It is a relatively endearing tale and features an enjoyable cameo by none other than IG-88. This passage also introduces us to our recurring antagonist, Olag Greck, and the duo’s owners for these stories, the Pitareeze family.
Olag is a perfect example of a weak villain written with children in mind. He never does anything particularly nefarious, screws up constantly and is sent running for his life in every adventure he appears in. As for the Pitareeze family, we are introduced to a boy, Nak, his parents, and his grandfather. Perhaps predictably, Nak plays a central role in most of the adventures. Mom and dad don’t show up often and are perfectly forgettable when they do, while his grandfather makes a more constant presence, though he is rather personality deficient too. Nak isn’t a bad character; he leaves a bad first impression but develops and matures over the course of the series.
The adventures themselves are pretty good. There are seven total in the collection, and each manages to feel at least marginally different than the one before. Of particular interest is The Saga of C-3PX. This story features a killer protocol droid that looks exactly like C-3P0, resulting in some pretty good comedy and great interaction between R2 and 3-P0, climaxing in a “Droid Free For All” in which the two are nearly forced to destroy one another. Also of interest is Battle of the B’rknaa. This story features the droids bumbling around on a moon of Kalarba, attempting to harvest crystals for yet another lame villain. They encounter giant stone creatures, and what ensues is one of the only large scale battles in the series. Though the explanation for the creature’s existence is a bit hard to swallow, the story again features C-3P0 and R2 at their best, fantastic art, and a better antagonist than most of the “episodes” here.
That isn’t to say that most of the stories aren’t solid, in fact many of them work rather well as long as you hone your expectations to something more akin to young adult novels than a complex study of C3P0 and R2 and the dynamic that makes them inseparable. That being said, what we do get of the two is very good and definitely fits with the movies. C-3P0 is the classic worrier, while R2 takes a more reckless approach, particularly in the tale “Artoo’s Day Out” which is easily the most in depth and meaningful characterization of Artoo in the collection.
|Olag looks terrible, as do most aliens in this work.|
The art is really good at conveying backdrops and facial expressions, but the aliens seen here are truly awful. The creators do not use established Star Wars species to fill out the environment in larger areas, instead opting to create their own. This is fine, except that nearly every one of the aliens featured in the collection is either downright ugly, or completely uninspired. Our main antagonist, Olag, is one such alien, though pretty much every new species seen here looks awful.
|The bold coloring really brings landscapes to life.|
That isn’t to say that the art is completely inept when it comes to conveying characters. R2 and C-3P0 look great, though the latter seems to have more range of motion than what we saw in the movies. The human characters are fairly decent too. The art’s real strengths though are the convincing backdrops, bold coloring, and clear cut action sequences.
Overall, the Kalarba Adventures are a fun, light hearted series of tales that concern two characters that often play nothing more than a tertiary role in any media they appear in. The villains aren’t great, nor are the supporting characters, but the writing and artwork is solid enough to make this worth a purchase.