“Age of Resistance” is a new series of Star Wars comics by Marvel. Just like its forerunners, “Age of Republic” and “Age of Rebellion”, each issue focusses on one of the major characters, this time from the sequel trilogy.
Throughout summer 2019, the following issues have been published: Finn, Poe Dameron, Captain Phasma, General Hux, and the latest, Supreme Leader Snoke (published 11th September). There was also a “Special” issue, featuring three shorter stories about Maz Kanata, Amilyn Holdo and BB-8. Further expected are Rey and Rose Tico (release date 18th September) and Kylo Ren (25th September). All issues are going to be collectively published around the end of November in two volumes: “Age of Resistance - Heroes” and “Age of Resistance - Villains”.
So What Is It About?
The idea of the series is to offer short (about 20 pages) stories where the character in question is the sole protagonist. Often literally. Most of the time, the hero is either alone or has one accompanying character who serves the purpose of a dialogue. Captain Phasma (and Snoke, to a degree) may be an exception to this rule. Even though the outcome of the story is that we learn a lot about Phasma’s character, she is in the role of an advisor to a promising young stormtrooper, who is the active and point-of-view character. (The same goes for Snoke, where the active character is Kylo Ren.)
All the comics (so far) follow a fairly simple scheme (you can’t really have a deep story on eighteen pages). The protagonist ends up in a situation where they are alone or out of their element. Poe, as a young Republic (not yet Resistance!) pilot, ends up separated from his squadron. Finn, still a First Order stormtrooper, goes on a “bug-cleaning” mission (the visuals of a squad in a dark corridor evoke “Aliens”) and gets his conscience challenged big time. Hux and Ren crash-land on an inhospitable planet.
At the end of the story, there is always a plot twist or a “surprise” - not necessarily a very unexpected one.
Despite some level of predictability, I have found all the stories entertaining. Some even felt like they enrich the characters’ personalities (Hux, where we get a lot of insight into his childhood and how he handles certain situations). Others felt like just a variation of a many-times-before-seen theme (Phasma, Poe).
Nevertheless, even if many of the stories were rather simple, on closer inspection they showed elements or events that clearly contributed to a character’s development (especially in the case of Poe and Finn).
The only issue I found rather disappointing was the “Age of Resistance - Special”. I enjoyed the story of Amilyn Holdo for its art style (pencilled by Elsa Charretier), very different from all the others and therefore very refreshing. However, the story itself essentially reiterated the way we experience Holdo in the film (nobody believes her becuse she dyes her hair, but she saves their lives and they realise they should trust her), only in a much less believable way. Even worse was the story of BB-8, which was both cheesy and unrealistic - perhaps good as a moral bedtime story for 5-year-olds, but not for anyone else. Maz Kanata’s story (written by Tom Taylor, unlike the two others) featuring Han and Chewie was probably the only good one (and entertaining because of its - however disturbing - indications of Maz’s thing for Chewie).
Are They Worth It?
The entire “Age of Resistance” series was a very good idea. The issues are like tiles that fill empty places within a mosaic of the character in question. Or perhaps they are rather like more detailed shading on an already existing painting. And we get all this in the form of an actual painted medium, very beautiful and colourful.
What we won’t get is learning anything new about those who are still an enigma. “Supreme Leader Snoke” does not tell anything new about Snoke, it merely shows a few scenes from his (and Kylo Ren’s) past that we did not know about. So overall, the series is not much for those thirsting after lots of new character lore. It is however definitely something for fans of the individual characters.
As a bonus, I should say that after reading the series, you will be likely set in your belief that the First Order are a bunch of psychopaths and sociopaths. And that given how their superiors treat them (Snoke training Ren, officers in regards to young Hux or Finn), there is really no wonder about it.
One thing is indisputable - the comics offer a set of beautifully illustrated stories where the characters are portrayed very recognisably, not just in terms of art, but first and foremost in terms of characterisation. With that in mind, I am looking forward to the remaining comics, as well as anything else from the series’ main writer, Tom Taylor.