Star Wars – “Captain Phasma”

Written by: Kelly Thompson
Art by: Marco Checchetto
ISBN: 978-0785194552
Chronology Placement: Set between “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi

This graphic novel collects the following stories:

  • Star Wars: Captain Phasma (2017) # 1 – 4

Captain Phasma was one of the more intriguing supporting characters to come out of the “The Force Awakens”, not only standing out because of her cool chrome Stormtrooper armour, but also because of her ruthless attitude. She receives her comeuppance in the closing act of the film when Finn, Han Solo and Chewbacca force her to deactivate the Starkiller Base shields and unceremoniously dump her in a trash compactor. The next time we see her is in “The Last Jedi” – alive and well, and unpunished for her traitorous act against the First Order. This four-issue miniseries from Kelly Thompson and Marco Checchetto bridges the gap between the two films and provides an explanation behind Phasma’s survival and how she covered up her involvement in Starkiller Base’s destruction to return in “The Last Jedi”.

The entirety of the first issue covers Phasma’s escape from the Starkiller Base trash compactor and her attempts to erase evidence of her betrayal. Unfortunately for her, another member of the First Order has discovered that she is responsible for deactivating the shields and so begins a deadly game of cat-and-mouse as Phasma attempts to eliminate any loose ends that may threaten her future. Thompson presents Phasma as an unrelenting force of nature, determined to succeed in her quest – her ruthlessness is a defining character trait, and here she seems unstoppable as she hunts down her prey. A woman of few words, Phasma is instead judged by her actions and there are several sequences that depict how far she’d go for self-preservation.

The series also ties into the prose novel “Phasma”, written by Delilah S. Dawson, which explains the character’s origins and her brutal attitude towards survival – willing to sacrifice anything or anyone to achieve her goals. The planet on which Phasma and her unwitting companion, Pilot, land on is very similar to her home planet of Parnassos with a deadly uninhabitable environment rife with monstrous creatures. Phasma even has brief flashbacks to her childhood friends – cementing a connection between the two stories. Thompson accurately captures Phasma’s faux dedication to the First Order, using the cause as a means of keeping herself safe. Even the act of deactivating the Starkiller Base shields was a case of survival, with Phasma largely unconcerned about the organisation’s long-term future. It’s a refreshing juxtaposition with Phasma responsible for instilling obedience into the First Order’s Stormtrooper army but feeling no sense of loyalty to the cause herself.

This miniseries is the perfect companion piece to Dawson’s novel, picking up some of the same themes and character development but applying them to the Phasma we recognise from the movies. The tragic relationship between Phasma and her trusting companion, Pilot, is sadly inevitable in its progression throughout the series, culminating in a confrontation that feels reminiscent of the old Fable, The Scorpion and the Frog. It is in Phasma’s nature to betray those who believe in her, and while she might feel some slight guilt over her decisions, she does not regret her choices and will sacrifice anything to ensure she comes out on top. There is something shark-like about her personality, and the fact that you never see her face (aside from a brief glimpse in “The Last Jedi” before her ‘death’) emphasises the inhuman heart of the character.

While Thompson’s writing is undeniably fantastic, Marco Checchetto deserves equal praise for his fabulous artwork and efficient storytelling. Checchetto’s work is amazingly evocative and brings a harsh brutality to the Star Wars universe – as noted on his work for the Obi-Wan & Anakin miniseries, which featured a similar uninhabitable landscape. Checchetto manages to convey Phasma’s determination through static imagery, giving her a whiff of the same unrelenting inhumanity that Michael Myers possesses in the Halloween movie franchise. She will not rest until she has achieved her goal, and she is cunning and deadly in equal measure. There are some wonderful panels where this element of her personality shines through, giving her a threatening presence that exceeds that seen in the movies.

Star Wars: Captain Phasma is essential reading for Star Wars fans, not only because it provides answers to one of the plot holes between “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” but because it treats Phasma with a respect and reverence that isn’t always matched in the films. I sincerely hope that her ‘death’ in “The Last Jedi” is also retconned away with a second comic miniseries, much like how Boba Fett managed to escape the Sarlacc in Expanded Universe materials, as Phasma has proven to be a fascinating and original take on the traditional Star Wars villain, and much more than a cool armour. Given that survival and self-preservation are key personality traits, it isn’t that impossible that she would somehow survive that plunge into a fiery pit. Who knows, perhaps she might reappear in spin-off materials under a new look – free from her ties to the First Order, but still as deadly as ever.

Score – ★★★★ ½

Star Wars – “Captain Phasma” is available in all good comic-book stores, as well as online at Amazon. Digital copies are available through Comixology and Amazon Kindle.

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