There is a difficult balance that has to be maintained when doing the adaptation of a big movie like Rogue One into a new medium like the comic form. It is deceptive to think that since they are both visual media it would be simple to move from one to another. But there is a problem, what works well in a movie doesn’t always translate to the static inks of a comic.
This adaptation does manage to avoid some of the pitfalls of the movie, while falling into the snares of what a comic can’t do. And the way the book was drawn, more like a cartoon where one team of artists works on the background while another handles the characters, displays a misunderstanding of the differences in the forms.
I have to assume that the reader of this review and the comic has seen Rogue One. I cannot imagine there are a large number of people out there who saw the ads for the movie and said, “You know what, I’ll wait for the comic book.” Consider this your spoiler warning.
One of the areas where the movie gets it right and the comic fails is the sense of timing. For example, when Jyn’s mother has just been murdered and she goes to the hiding spot as she’s been taught, in the movie there is a real sense that time is passing for her. The way they hold on her in the dark room you can’t tell if is it hours or days before she is rescued by Saw Gerrera. But in the comic they just drop in a “Some Time Later” box which kills all the sense of fear and loneliness that gives the scene its power and makes you understand why Jyn has a hard time forming attachments.
They have made some improvements on the movie, such as dropping the scene where Gerrera tortures the pilot who brings Galen’s message. In the movie, the pilot is driven insane by this but manages to regain his sanity completely a few scenes later. Without this weird detail, the comic flows smoother.
But this points out another flaw of the comic. In the movie, Gerrera is the counterpoint to Darth Vader. He has lost many limbs, replaced by robotic parts. It is this seeming loss of much of his humanity that drives the wedges between him and the rest of the rebels. Where they are leading an organized rebellion, Gerrera is running a terrorist cell.
The comic makes Gerrera more human and less problematic. I don’t know if Disney was afraid that children would read this and be scared of Gerrera and asked for the changes or the writer did, but it glosses over an important distinction and one that highlights why the Rebel leaders suspect Jyn so much.
I will say that while the foregrounds and backgrounds don’t always mesh the way they should in this book, the artwork for the most part is gorgeous. If you bought this book only for the art, I wouldn’t blame you. And for all it’s flaws, I would say that if you are or know a Star Wars fan this book would not be out-of-place under the Christmas tree.
Writer: Alessandro Ferrari
Artists: Igor Chimisso & Matteo Piana
Inkers: Igor Chimisso & Stefano Simone
Colorists: Davide Turrotti & Kawaii Creative Studios