Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny #2 – Rey
Jody Houser (Writer), Arianna Florean (Artist), Adele Matera (Colours), Tom B. Long (Letters)
10 January, 2018
Star Wars: The Last Jedi may have divided fans, but one thing is for sure: protagonist Rey is definitely a hero of our times. When we first met Rey in 2015’s The Force Awakens, she was nothing but a scavenger, living from day to day on appallingly meagre rations. We barely heard her speak until she encountered BB-8, at which point her life took a much more epic turn.
IDW’s Forces of Destiny series began with Leia and now revisits Rey’s past on Jakku. This day-in-the-life story expands on the animated short about Rey and shows us what goes on in her head.
Following Rey’s rescue of BB-8 from the mercenary Teedo, we relive the scenes from her first appearance, this time juxtaposed with her thoughts – of loneliness, of purpose, of her hope for the future. As Rey is leading BB-8 to her ‘home’, they encounter a nightwatcher worm, which feeds on junk technology. Rey manages to protect BB-8, but this is hardly the last danger the two will encounter. Teedo is still after BB-8 and enlists a horde of goons to assist him. Rey needs to keep BB-8 safe, protect herself and teach Teedo a lesson.
Unlike the Leia story, which made her more of a damsel in distress for some reason, Rey has much more agency here. She is undoubtedly the hero of this story, ably aided by BB-8. But, ultimately, it is her actions and decisions that keep them safe. I love that writer Jody Houser chose to centre the story on Rey and BB-8’s relationship. Their dynamic in The Force Awakens was charming and such an enjoyable part of the film. The Last Jedi definitely suffered by keeping them apart, and also reducing BB-8’s role in general.
Houser’s writing shows a depth of understanding that I felt was missing in the Leia issue. Rey’s story does not centre entirely on her heroics; it functions as a means to build her as an empathetic human being. As we know, Rey has been dealt a bad hand in life, abandoned on a desolate planet in the middle of nowhere, fending for herself since she was a child. But her circumstances haven’t taken away her inherent goodness. When the nightwatcher worm attacks Rey and BB-8, she does her best to escape the creature without hurting it too much. Once they reach a safe distance from the beast, Rey chucks some of her precious junk at it so that the creature has something to feed itself. After all, Rey knows what it is like to stay hungry.
This is a minor quibble and it does not affect one’s reading of the story in any way, but I would have liked to see a translation of what BB-8 says. We cannot understand the astromech droids in the films but it would be nice if the comic books could give us some insight into their thoughts. After all, being shunted from one human to another cannot be much fun. Knowing what BB-8 says would give us an idea of what drew it to Rey and why it so quickly trusted her with finding its master. In the films, their feelings are implied through the intonations of their individual beeps, which doesn’t translate onto the page.
The art here is similar to the first issue and faithful to the Forces of Destiny animated shorts. Arianna Florean has said that she did a great deal of research so her art was in sync with the series. I would still prefer if the characters looked like their film counterparts but, at this point, I am resigned to this stylistic choice. Unlike in issue #1 where Leia was drawn as wide-eyed and cute in an obvious effort to cater to younger audiences, Rey is drawn more proportionately. There is no attempt made to cute-ify the characters, not even BB-8. Whether this slight inconsistency will bother readers, I am not sure. It actually took me a moment to realise the difference so it may not be immediately obvious. If I had to choose between the two styles, I would say I prefer the art in this issue as it is less whimsical.
Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny is already getting stronger and issue #2 is a solid all-round effort. Houser, Florean, and the rest of the creative team are faithful to Rey’s character and have given us a short but sweet tale full of heart. I am looking forward to the next issue to see what adventures Hera gets up to.