Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny #3 – Hera
Devin Grayson (Writer). Eva Widermann (Artist), Monica Kubina (Colours), Tom B. Long (Letters)
17 January, 2018
The IDW Publishing’s Star Wars Forces of Destiny series is going from strength to strength. Following two solid first issues featuring the films’ female characters as protagonists, the third issue moves into the animated universe and places Hera Syndulla in the lead.
In this action-packed comic, Hera is on a Rebel Alliance mission to the agricultural outpost, Fekunda. Her goal–sway the outpost’s leaders to join the Alliance and thus, share some of their crops with the Rebels.
But when Hera reaches the outpost she realises she has been pipped at the post by none other than the Empire. Unlike the Rebel Alliance, which intends to help the outpost, Imperial Commander Zhou is not a patient man. Nothing will stand in Zhou’s way as he pushes the Fekunda farmers to their limits and beyond. Almost nothing, as it were. Zhou is unprepared for Hera.
This is a much richer comic than the first two in the series. There are so many more characters, uniforms and spaceships here, as well as a brand new planet with new technology. Thankfully, the story and art more than do it justice.
The art is getting better with each succeeding issue of the series; it is so much more vivid here, moving away from the overly cartoonish look of the first installments. I think it helps that none of these characters were in the live-action films, as that makes expectations more manageable. But saying that is a disservice to Eva Widermann’s work.
Widermann does not skimp on details in a single panel. Whether she is drawing Rebels, Imperials, Fekunda residents, action scenes, or heartfelt conversations, she makes each panel look vibrant, full of life and so very Star Wars. I would say the only low point, if one could call it that, is that Lemnos looks like a talking seal, complete with whiskers, which is unintentionally amusing. However, considering that a lobster was once used for creature design in the original Star Wars film, this is in keeping with tradition!
Whereas the Leia and Rey issues focused more on their inner turmoil, Hera’s story is far more action-heavy. There are positives and negatives to this approach. On the positive side, this issue is the most exciting of the three we have had so far. There is so much happening that I am amazed how writer Devin Grayson managed to pack it all into 30 pages. The drawback to this is that we don’t actually get to know Hera. Whereas the earlier issues gave us an insight into the characters through their internal dialogue, something that cannot be replicated on film, Grayson does not use this method here.
However, this is not a complete negative because Hera instead gets to interact with other characters and though this does not tell us too much about her, we get an inkling about her thoughts and feelings if we read between the lines.
For instance, Lemnos asks Hera point-blank what the Rebel Alliance is like. Hera tells him that it is not an easy life and that it gets to a point where you instinctively work on the problem, no matter how low you feel. These are obviously words of an experienced fighter and gives readers some understanding about what makes Hera tick.
I particularly enjoyed the characterisation of the Imperial forces in this comic. They are portrayed as out-and-out villains, serving the Empire to the detriment of the people of Fekunda. There is some nuance added to Commander Zhou, who seems more interested in pleasing his father than the Empire; I would have liked to know more about this. For the most part, though, these are the classic villains we are used to and it works well for the story.
By giving readers a scant sketch of the Imperials’ personalities, the comic is able to focus more on the dynamic between Hera and the Fekunda citizens. In just a few pages, we can see where she stands with these people, which is great because the story then avoids unnecessary exposition. I would have liked to have seen more of Hera’s interactions with Au B’Ree, especially as she becomes a central player in the comic. The buildup to Au B’Ree’s leadership was side-lined and thus made the development seem like it came out of nowhere. But this is a minor quibble.
I wish it had not taken so long for Forces of Destiny to find its feet. This third comic is so well put-together and has such an engaging story that the first two issues pale in comparison. The art is outstanding on every page and the story is incredibly strong; this is not only my favourite of the series so far but an excellent entry into the Star Wars canon. I really hope this trend continues in the upcoming issues.