Not the adaptation you’re looking for.
For whatever reason, Lucasfilm seems to have developed an aversion to releasing adaptations of Star Wars movies in anything close to a timely manner. Jason Fry’s novelization of The Last Jedi landed in March, and Marvel’s comic book adaptation is only now making its debut. When your adaptation is that far behind the curve, it becomes all the more important that it brings something new and different to the table. It’s not enough for Marvel’s Last Jedi Adaptation to just go through the motions and tell the same story fans have become intimately familiar with over the past six months. Unfortunately, it seems content to do that anyway.
Despite a new creative team (writer Gary Whitta and artist Michael Walsh) The Last Jedi Adaptation’s faults are familiar to anyone who’s read Marvel’s recent adaptations of The Force Awakens and Rogue One. It’s not simply that this issue blandly recycles material Star Wars fans have seen before; it’s that it delivers such an inferior take on that material. This issue blazes right through the early scenes of the film. The pacing is relentless, never giving readers time to savor a situation of even appreciate the significance of the events unfolding. The entire bombing run against the Fulminatrix – the first major action sequence in the film – is over in the span of a few pages. The sacrifice of Leia’s Resistance soldiers holds no weight in this version.
The book also ignores or glosses over a lot of the more humorous and quirky moments in these scenes. There’s no funny banter between Poe and General Hux. The slapstick approach to Finn’s awakening is toned down. So much of the flavor director Rian Johnson brought to the project is missing.
Walsh tends to excel in introspective, character-driven stories (such as the recent Spectacular Spider-Man #6). However, Star Wars demands a certain scope that his art isn’t able to convey. The pages in this issue are dominated by small, cramped panels. Neither the scale of the First Order/Resistance conflict nor the raw human emotion plays well on the page. Again, in the relentless push to work through this story as rapidly as possible, there’s little room to really hone in on the characters or events and maximize the dramatic impact.
Fry’s novelization adds just enough to the film to make it a worthwhile companion piece. That includes working in a number of deleted scenes and crafting an entirely new opening sequence where Luke dreams about the life he might have had on Tatooine. This issue makes comparatively little effort to expand on the events of the film. The most readers get is a much shorter opening sequence and an internal monologue for Luke. Honestly, that monologue is a welcome addition, shedding a bit more light on how the former Jedi Master reacts to Rey’s invasive presence. But the fact that he’s the only character with narrative captions creates an odd sense of disconnect. This issue would have benefited if that approach were applied uniformly. What better way to distinguish the comic from the film than to explore the internal thoughts and feelings of all these characters?