The Other Side of the Page: Books and Comics
Comic Review- Star Wars Special: C-3PO: The Phantom Limb
This review has spoilers for Star Wars Special: C-3PO: The Phantom Limb.
During Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a huge fight between the Resistance and the First Order breaks out at Maz Kanata’s home. As the dust settles, General Leia Organa steps off her ship to meet with her estranged husband, Han Solo. C-3PO, the beloved protocol droid, shuffles between them and babbles how there’s a remarkable story about how he got his red arm.
StarWars.com originally announced that the story of the mysterious red arm would arrive in December 2015 with their Journey to the Force Awakens line of comics. It would be a one shot special featuring C-3PO. This one shot got pushed back again and again. Working in a comic book store, I often heard customers complain about the changing release date. Finally, it dropped on April 13th, 2016. But was it worth the wait?
Short answer: No.
Granted, I should preface this by saying I have a phobia of artificial intelligence. A lot of the themes in this comic covered topics like if droids are more human than we think and if they’re “good” or “bad.” These kind of topics always unnerve me.
That being said, I was hoping there would be more to this comic. C-3PO has a team of droids escorting an enemy bot to a meeting point. This droid has the whereabouts of missing Resistant leader Admiral Ackbar. I hoped there would be more story to this other than robots questioning their humanity. If C-3PO lost the arm defending General Organa or Poe Dameron, then I would be more on board with this title. I found the actual story boring.
There were nice moments where C-3PO recalled points of the original trilogy, the prequels, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It’s easy to forget that this droid has been present in every movie and television show in the new canon. 3PO has always been a background character, but he has interacted with all the main casts from Anakin to Ahsoka to Kanan to Luke to Rey. If the comic touched more on those emotional beats opposed to 3PO mourning the loss of a droid we’ve known for three pages, I would have responded more positively with this. The ending is resolved incredibly fast too. In two and a half pages, the antagonist went from hating the heroes to committing the big sacrifice at the end.
Part of the problem is they made it such a big moment in The Force Awakens. When you have a character say, “My, the story is a great one,” then the fans are expecting that. I’ve had many chats about how C-3PO lost his arm. It didn’t help the release date was pushed back multiple times. It built that anticipation only for it to crash and burn.
The coloring and art for C-3PO grew on me. My initial response was that it was messy with highlights and shadows blurring the storytelling in a swell of random colors. The more I studied it, the more I appreciated it. You can see fire dancing on 3PO’s shiny golden body. The energy and emotion are splashed across the pages as the droid team meets hardship after hardship. In the final scene, a droid who sacrifices himself can see his primer paint coming out in bright red ink as if he’s bleeding to death. It’s the only powerful moment in the comic even if the end came suddenly.
Overall, this wasn’t worth waiting four months. Out of all the great Star Wars comic out there, this was the worst title yet.
I gave C-3PO: The Phantom Limb a 3.5 out of 10.