The most notable thing at first about The Force Unleashed II graphic novel was the price tag. No, seriously. There were concerns about this book being shorter than others of its type, and the price tag does reflect that. The cover, on the other hand, is nothing worth noting. It’s an oft-used promotional image of The Force Unleashed, but it just loses a lot in this format. I would say most of that is because it’s not in motion- rain and sparks come across as nothing more than a blurry photo- but I’ve seen this as an image online and it was a hell of a lot more interesting before being blown up to 400 percent. The fact is that the art of the comic is better rendered, better colored, better printed and more interesting than the cover.
As for the story, it’s about what the page length indicates. Remember how short the TFU II novel was? How short the game is likely to be? (I’m waiting to hear Angry Joe on that one). Well, the comic feels like we rush through it. We get a prologue scene, introducing Boba Fett, his female wannabe Mando partner- love interest?- and Vader contacting him. What I consider the “introduction”- every scene including Xasha- stretches on for an action sequence, and then we head toward the scene in Starkiller’s vision of Fett at just about one third of the way in. That’s right, just like the Star Wars films, this is a three Act story. The difference is, while A New Hope at times seemed to run a bit long, The Force Unleashed II seems to stumble over its own feet it’s running so fast.
Act II covers everything prior to the landing on Kamino. At least, everything that’s covered here. That little Tug of War that we saw from Juno’s Point of View in the novel? I must have blinked or something. Scenes that were pivotal in the novel are glossed over so quickly here (and with errors) that they become non-points. For those that know what I’m talking about, remember “Juno” being shot and dying? Well… not so much. Vague script? Or intentionally left out?
Of course, there’s one big fight with Starkiller in Act II. It’s the one you probably expect- the biggest fight in the entire novel. It’s glossed over a bit, in that “quick action that’s supposed to be exciting” format we get so often with scenes that are supposed to be dramatic. Thing is, it’s not. In the slightest. Very similar looking panels with no dialogue in which the outcome is not in question equals likely to be skipped over or ignored. And that’s pretty much what I did with this entire sequence that had nothing to do with the protagonist of the comic.
It’s not until Act III that we get some content that diverges enough from the novel that it’s worth commenting on. Boba Fett is, in fact, still on Kamino after Starkiller arrives. I’m pretty sure this is a retcon, but as I’m not digging through a Borders copy of Sean Williams’ novel, my only evidence that Fett was supposed to leave the system is my gut. It may have simply been strongly implied, but I think it was made pretty obvious that it was supposed to be the outcome.
“You can hold it right there.”
Boba Fett. “You found me.”
“Looking up records on someone’s past will do that.” I didn’t argue the point. “Now, you’re going to take my secrets to your grave.”
Not my idea of a fair haggling situation. Couldn’t just let it go, though. “That won’t change a thing. My Master already has the information. Kill me, and it’ll be spread far and wide in a matter of weeks.”
“That’s a risk I’ll have to take.” Fett came at me, and I scrambled to be somewhere else.
Anyway, here’s where we get a little more of the “first adult Boba Fett novel since Attack of the Clones” (at least, that I know of) deal. I say this because… can you imagine Jason Wingreen using “Blast!” as an expletive? No, you can’t. That line was obviously recorded with Temuera Morrison‘s voice. As for Fett’s actual relationship with the memory of his father, this is about what you’d expect post Legacy of the Force. One thing I thought was a nice touch was his emotional reaction to this, but his reaction to someone possibly gaining information from his DNA was simple: kill it.
Tying into the emotional reaction was some of the missed opportunities. It was just too brief for Fett to really get into character. There were some perfect opportunities to say things like “there’s nothing in it for me” or to demonstrate the type of willpower against a hologram that Starkiller couldn’t- and Fett doesn’t deliver. I think if there were some narration boxes, or if the comic was just a few pages longer each Act, he could have been more in character here, but as it is, he was rather one-dimensional. There was an interesting bit in which Fett finds out some information that is likely to be a major cause of his S.O.P. (Standard Operating Procedure) throughout the rest of the Galactic Civil War, which could possibly redeem some of the book’s more retcon-like happenings.
That pretty much describes the story of this novel: Lots of opportunities, some interesting things, but just not enough comic here to follow up on it. Some of the things I was really looking forward to seeing here were left out, and there was no real reason for it. Had they inked enough pages to fit the standard price tag instead of eleven dollars, this could have been a pretty good story.
As for the rest of the comic- well, the art is phenomenal. The coloring is dramatic, the terror troopers are awesome, Boba Fett lives in full color and it doesn’t disappoint. I can’t do anything but compliment Francia, Silva and Rodriguez on their work here, especially with panels like this:
I do have one complaint about the visuals, however. This is a complaint centered entirely around Michael Heisler’s lettering, which is relatively standard and doesn’t really disappoint any more than it amazes. There is one exception, however:
Somehow, for absolutely no reason, Michael Heisler managed to completely remove any inclination the reader had to take Boba Fett seriously in this novel. Twice.
The Force Unleashed II, for what it includes, does not disappoint. The problem is, with a twenty five page setup including only one new development and only about twenty pages of actual new story, I’m not sure it’s worth even the $11 price tag. This is something to own, but probably not unless you have a Borders coupon.
Fett had me cornered. Blast; I didn’t come ready for a fight. I really wasn’t looking forward to finishing this review from either Fett’s holding cell or beyond the grave. I reached for my lightsaber, aware that he had all the advantages and I had nothing but my own skill.
Just as Fett set his sights with his blaster rifle, a rift opened in front of him. A figure stepped out, slightly taller than Fett but similarly armored. The armor was matte black, more elaborate than Fett’s and in much better condition.
I whispered in awe. “The Man in Black Ranger.” I hadn’t expected him to come to my aid. Not today. Not ever, honestly, but I certainly didn’t expect him to take on the legendary Boba Fett.
The Man in Black Ranger fell on the green armored bounty hunter with a vengeance. Whereas before, Fett had all the tactical advantages, with his distance, weaponry and the enclosed space, he now found himself in a situation where most of his weapons were useless without blowing himself up as he was buffeted by enhanced punches. Sparks flew as armor grated on armor.
After a well placed punch to his chest knocked Fett several meters down the corridor onto his back, he aimed his right arm at the Man in Black Ranger and fired a grappling cord. The cord quickly entangled around the Ranger’s defending arm, which filled its purpose in keeping the cord from capturing his body. Little did the Ranger know that this new cord was filled with beskar and virtually impregnible.
The Ranger pulled a two-handled sword out of- well, I’ll admit there was too much smoke in the area at this point to see where he got it. It almost looked as though he pulled it out of thin air. With his free arm, the Ranger managed to cut his other arm free. He rushed at Fett, who had used the diversion to get to his feet and fire a rocket from his wrist. The Ranger literally cut through the rocket, ducking his head only slightly to avoid the shock wave of the exploding weapon.
Fett backed up, the twin-edged sword now held under his chin. “I’ll let you go this time,” he said, firing a giant missile from his back at the Ranger. The warhead can’t have been active- Fett would have blown himself up in the process- but it hurled the two combatants in opposite directions as an enormous plume of smoke was released from the rocket.
By the time the smoke cleared, I was alone.
The Force Unleashed theme property of Mark Griskey and LucasArts. “Departure of Boba Fett” property of LucasFilms Licensing and John Williams. “Combat” property of The Mighty RAW and Saban. Custom image made by Bill Silvia with products of Google Search, properties of LucasFilms. Photographed images depict panels of The Force Unleashed II graphic novel, property of Dark Horse.