Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Max Rebo #1
WHO IS PLOTTING TO KILL JABBA THE HUTT? Wait…someone ELSE is plotting to kill one of the galaxy’s most infamous gangsters? YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT! When you’re JABBA THE HUTT, you make a lot of enemies…and sometimes, they’re even under your employ! MAX REBO and the band have their own plans on how to deal with a mobster like Jabba… This issue bookends our JABBA’S PALACE one-shot and leads directly into the RETURN OF THE JEDI film!
As a child you will learn three universal truths: everyone dies eventually, there’s nothing better than a cold glass of water on a hot summer day, and (most importantly) the Max Rebo band from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is the best damn band of all time. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Max Rebo #1 is the next installment in a series of one shots devoted to celebrating and expanding the lore of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, as 2023 marks the film’s 40th anniversary release. Much like the other one-shots in this series, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Max Rebo #1 is a non-essential, yet undoubtedly profound new look on a fun spin for the Star Wars universe. Told from the perspective of Max Rebo, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Max Rebo #1 follows a series of events leading up to the opening of Return of the Jedi, featuring conspiracies of murder and themes of the meaning of life and death.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Max Rebo #1 is told in the time-honored vein of a gritty noir, complete with the themes and ambiance that characterize this genre. The issue opens with a monologue from Max where we learn that the constant shootouts and murders in Jabba’s palace are commonplace, and the events transpiring in Return of the Jedi are nothing new. This all ties back to some words from Max’s mentor, who too was involved in criminal conspiracies for the sake of being able to perform his music. Much of this issue is devoted to the seedy underbelly of the Star Wars universe, which helps keep the noir aesthetic consistent. Max’s monologues throughout the issue also feel like the narration from a noir, with there being a constant talk of what death means to him as the actions on the page constantly are depicting his near fatal experiences within Jabba’s Palace.
Daniel Jose Older is no stranger to the Star Wars universe having written many books and serving as the architect of the High Republic series for the last few years. Older knows and understands this universe in a way that is made very apparent throughout this issue. While he tackles themes of life, death, and uses the aesthetic of noir, this issue feels quintessentially Star Wars in execution. Older enfuses each page with dialogue, characterization, and gradual worldbuilding that makes this world easy to escape into. A great example of this is the dialogue, which is full of unique speech patterns that indicate the way that different species talk in the world of Star Wars. Older puts a lot of work into this style of storytelling, making this book way better than a story about Max Rebo should be.
Paul Fry and Carlos Lopez do a great job with their art duties here. The only criticism is not actually a fault of theirs, but it is the choice to use artists with more of a traditional take on the art rather than ones more appropriate for a noir setting. With that said, Fry and Lopez do a great job, especially in their depiction of Max Rebo. This background character has never felt more lifelike with Fry and Lopez enfusing a sense of emotion into the black eyes like has never been done before. The best panel is towards the end of the issue where Max is seeing a vision of the path his old mentor took, where Fry and Lopez depict a close up shot of Max so that we can see an image of the mentor within the reflection of his eyes. This type of visual storytelling is fantastic and really elevates the story.
Rounding out the creative team is Travis Lanham on letters. Lanham has a lot of fun putting words to these larger than life Star Wars characters, giving many of them unique speech bubbles. In Max Rebo’s case, Lanham gives him a fun blue narration bubble, making it clear whose thoughts we are reading throughout the issue. All of this creates a clear and concise read for this issue, enhancing the Star Wars ambiance and experience.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Max Rebo #1 is a fantastic exploration into the seedy underbelly of the Star Wars universe through the perspective of a gritty noir. Max Rebo is presented as more than just a strange background character, with a hopefully robust future for his character.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Max Rebo #1: Life and Death, Who Knew?
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 8.5/108.5/10
- Color - 8.5/108.5/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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