Thursday, May 19, 2011

31 Days of Comics #19

Star Wars: Boba Fett: Bounty on Bar-Kooda
By John Wagner and Cam Kennedy

There have been a few smart, fun and witty Star wars comics over the past couple of decades, but there has also been a whole bunch of mediocre ones. Dark Horse were examining how complicated and boring a Star Wars story could get with their Knights of the Old Republic series long before George Lucas showed how it was really done with the prequel movies.

But every now and then, somebody has an inspired thought at Dark Horse and brings in some eminently suitable creators, and you end up with something like Boba Fett: Bounty on Bar-Kooda, by John Wagner and Cam Kennedy.

These creators went on to do several Boba Fett stories, but this is the first, and is a terrific example of how to deal with licensed properties.

The first thing they do is dump all the complicated mythology and tell a simple story of Boba Fett hunting some bounty. There are still fat, ugly Hutts and space junkers commanded by alien pirates, but there are no Jedi, no mention of the Force, there isn’t a Really Clever appearance by Luke or Han or Chewbacca, both the rebellion and the imperial forces are barely mentioned.

Instead, it’s a story that could take place at any point in Boba Fett’s lifetime, and benefits from being a simple story told effectively.

Wagner has been mixing his absurdity with his high-tension action for decades on Judge Dredd, and there is plenty of both in Bounty on Bar Kooda. Unlike most Star wars comics, it’s got a few decent jokes in there, largely due to an incredibly stupid bunch of pirates being taken in by a couple of magic tricks.

“I’m not apologizin’ to no cards--!” SPAKK! “You’ll do what you’re told!”

It all gets a bit too close to extraordinary silliness, and Wagner definitely gives Boba Fett too much to say. (Lines like “Guard you tongue! I have not concluded my business!” and “I trust no one has given this fugitive succor…?” don’t do anybody any favours.) But he also throws in tons of action and explosions and speeder bikes, a couple of decent fistfights and a Hutt romance that still manages to be slightly sweet, no matter how gross it gets.

Fortunately, he has the excellent Cam Kennedy as a collaborator. When you’re doing some crazy space action, you want Kennedy, because nobody draws people running away while blasting enemies with an unfeasibly cool firearm like Kennedy draws them.

Cam ‘Kenny Who?' Kennedy is one of the great action artists in modern comics. He always grounds his figures in their environment, with body language that takes into account little things like momentum and gravity. Scenes of Boba Fett (or Judge Dredd or the Punisher) shooting the bad guys can be extraordinarily graceful and powerful.

He also draws the best fat arses, so he was perfect for this bunch of ugly, ugly aliens.

All of the Wagner/Kennedy Boba Fett comics are worth tracking down, and they get even more propulsive and absurd as they continue. It's a pity Star Wars comics are often so monotonously serious, when they could be as fun as this.

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