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Star Wars: Captain Phasma #1 Can You Tell a Great Side Story With a Minor Character?

Captain Phasma After the Events on Starkiller Base

The Lucasfilm Story Group has to deal with a lot of moving parts. There are a lot of characters, time periods, and mediums to keep in a tight canon. And no single flowing canon spans the mediums that Star Wars does, comics, books, films, television are all the same world not just based on the same universe like say Marvel comics and the Marvel cinematic universe.

The time periods are an added mix that not even the Marvel and DC universe’s have to deal with. Star Wars continues to tell stories that are set in the Clone Wars era, the Empire’s height and beginning to tell more and more side stories during the First Order's reign. Marvel’s new miniseries about high ranking storm trooper Captain Phasma takes place during and just after the events on Starkiller Base in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Issue #1 of Captain Phasma begins after she is forced to disable to shields on Starkiller Base and is forced down a garbage shoot.

She deletes her involvement in the destruction of the base and finds that Lt. Sol Rivas had accessed the computer before her. As villains are wont to do she decides she needs to kill Sol Rivas as he may know her secret and recruits a TIE pilot to follow him as Starkiller Base explodes behind them.

We’ve seen Marco Checchetto’s art in the Star Wars universe across multiple Star Wars time periods. In Shattered Empire, his art helps tell a story that takes place immediately after Return of the Jedi, in the Obi-Wan and Anakin series he draws a Pre-Clone Wars story of the classic Kenobi/Anakin relationship and now we have his work in the First Order era too. His stamp and style have been all over the Star Wars canon comics are concerned.

Andres Mossa should get a lot of credit for the art direction in this first issue. The narrative is defined by a lot of debris and the persistent sheen and shine of Captain Phasma’s armor. The debris in the vast majority of the book almost takes on a glitter effect around Phasma contrasting and almost shining off of her armor. What I’m calling debris is more the artistic license the artists take with what in the story can be smoke, explosions, dust, or snowfall. No matter what the debris is, it portrays a constant unease happening around Phasma while she moves with calmness and poise through the base to her eventual escape.

Many Star Wars fans will have already read the Captain Phasma novel and have her backstory in their pocket. My only interaction with her has been as a minor character in the film. Dipping in and out of the canon will sometimes give you great perspective on the standalone adventures and stories that relate to one another when you’re unable to keep up with certain characters’ backstories, like Captain Phasma in my case. I will experience her adventure as if her origin has not been told and the trend of keeping stories mostly contained might benefit me as I read through this adventure.

I’ve been on the other side, where I’ve felt frustration that characters and stories sometimes don’t reference their recorded histories in the canon when they are told in different mediums. The current example is in Star Wars: Rebels where Kanan and Hera meeting is chronicled in A New Dawn and Kanan’s past as a padwan under Depa Billaba is barely mentioned in Rebels.

In the first issue of Captain Phasma, her backstory doesn’t seem very important since it’s an escape story. It is important to note that it does mesh with Star Wars: Force Awakens showing Captain Phasma in the snow and chaos on the way off the planet and seeing Kylo Ren and Rey in their outdoor lightsaber battle. The Star Wars films are held to a higher degree of importance in the Star Wars canon. The only exception to the explicit overlapping of mediums is when one of the lower mediums, comic books in this case, is allowed to do this with the films. I’ll likely rewatch The Force Awakens before Star Wars: The Last Jedi is released and I’ll have the added bit of spice to my experience knowing that Captain Phasma at one point during the Rey and Kylo Ren’s final battle is only fifty meters away watching and not avoiding involvement to save her own skin.

The Captain Phasma series might give us a great story to follow as it continues after she leaves Starkiller base, but we know that it won’t have a huge effect on the main saga’s story. And that’s where you sit when you read much the canon in other mediums, they can only feign epic, the rest is up to the other writer and artist's skill to tell a good or great story. Let’s see where Captain Phasma leads us after her Starkiller base exploits and see if her assassination of Sol Rivas is successful.

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