Written by: Jody Houser
Art by: Luke Ross
Official Description from Marvel:
One of the most cunning and ruthless minds in all of the Star Wars, Grand Admiral Thrawn is back with his own six-issue miniseries! Written by Jody Houser (ROGUE ONE ADAPTATION) and drawn by Luke Ross (STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS ADAPTATION), follow the comic adaptation of Timothy Zahn’s New York Times best-selling novel about Thrawn’s rise in the Imperial ranks, on his way to becoming one of the most feared military tacticians in the galaxy far, far away.
THRAWN #1 is what happens when Marvel gets the Star Wars universe right. Writer Jody Houser adapts this story from the novel written by Timothy Zahn. In full disclosure, I have not read the novel but I am well versed in Star Wars Rebels but I will only base my review on the comic and right out of the gate this book is a winner. Houser gives us a fully realized, more open and accepting version of Thrawn all while still managing to keep him at arm’s length from the reader. Houser delivers a tight, concise narrative into Thrawn and how he manages to get in the good graces of the Emperor and the Imperial Navy while keeping Thrawn shady and mysterious. Not an easy thing to accomplish but Houser does a phenomenal job expanding Thrawn’s sense of duty and self-preservation.
When Thrawn is captured he is immediately coupled with Cadet Eli Vanto, a reluctant liaison, and translator to Thrawn at the academy. Pairing Thrawn with Vanto softens his rough edges, at least in the perception on to readers, but Thrawn or more accurately Mitth’raw’nuruodo, continually remains a cold and calculating warrior and tactician at his core. Houser also gives readers a look into the academy that strips away the cold exterior we’ve grown accustomed to with soldiers of the Empire that seems more like self-important frat boys or prisoners jockeying for position to see who the toughest in the yard. Even though Cadet Vanto envisions his future as a data specialist on an Imperial ship you can see how Thrawn is educating him, even in the most superficial of dialogue, in the real art of war as a soldier and a future leader. One of the stand-out sequences is Thrawn’s interaction with the Emperor as we get a glimpse of what makes him so persuasive, intelligent and insightful. It’s full of tension and revelation which is indicative of why this issue is such a page-turner.
The art of Luke Ross has great visual appeal as does his simple traditional grid style layout. I don’t know how intentional it was on Ross’ part but the panels mirror Thrawn’s story like a step by step manual on his extremely calculated rise within the ranks of the Imperial Navy. There’s not a ton of action in this issue but Ross’ art style feels anything but pedestrian. His take on facial expressions especially in close-ups feels comic book traditional yet with fully realized expressions and life.
Again, I don’t know how readers of the novel will fare with this adaptation but from a comic book perspective, this issue is a perfect example of how I love to learn about characters that I don’t know much about all without the need to shoehorning it in with old familiar characters or plotlines from the movies. This is a story I am interested in, it’s not being forced and it feels fresh and exciting. Houser lays out a great introduction to Thrawn and Ross is visually dynamic in even the most mundane of circumstances. The story is fast paced, cunning and full of intrigue. Thrawn #1 is a great start to this six-issue mini-series and I can’t wait to read issue #2!