A brisk gap-filling adventure, Captain Phasma #1-4 isn’t exactly deep or essential, but it gives a great peek into the polished visor of the ice-cold title character.
CAPTAIN PHASMA #1-4 IS PART OF THE CURRENT STAR WARS CANON. CHECK OUT THE TIMELINE.
Originally released as part of the “Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi” initiative, and rereleased today in hardcover, Marvel’s four-part miniseries Captain Phasma fills in the blanks between the enigmatic villain being dumped down a garbage chute in The Force Awakens and re-joining the First Order’s frontlines in time for The Last Jedi.
Written by Kelly Thompson, with art from Marco Checchetto and colours by Andres Mossa, Captain Phasma opens with the eponymous character finding a patsy for her treasonous actions on Starkiller Base. The narration, cleverly, takes the form of Phasma’s report on the events surrounding the base’s destruction and her pursuit of the “culprit”, which sidesteps the need for too much personality from the tight-lipped captain, but gives a strong sense of her driven, calculated persona.
That’s further reinforced throughout the four issues, as Phasma and a First Order TIE pilot, aptly and humourlessly named “Pilot” by Phasma herself, pursue the fleeing officer, Rivas, to the watery surface of the planet Luprora. Fraught with giant sea-monsters and on-going conflict between the indigenous population and some folks who crash-landed there, Luprora is an intriguing setting brought to life vividly by Checchetto. (Judging by his work here and on Obi-Wan & Anakin, this is clearly an artist who relishes the opportunity to bring to life hostile planets and giant monsters. I suppose most artists do.)
[Major spoilers from this point on.]
Captain Phasma’s deft, callous manipulation of Luprora’s citizenry is enjoyably villainous, and while Pilot works to some extent as her foil, the strongest writing of the miniseries communicates snatches of Phasma’s pragmatic mindset. Her dogged pursuit of Rivas, and his eventual execution, speaks to a sense of self-preservation at all costs, which in this series overrides her loyalty to the First Order. There’s a panel or two of flashback to Phasma’s past, but Thompson wisely keeps the story in the present and the characterisation at a minimum, prioritising pace over insight. In this case, it works.
That isn’t to say that Captain Phasma couldn’t do with slowing down a little here and there; it’s a torrid read, and after having sped through it there’s a sense of not having read anything at all. But there’s enough meat under the character’s glistening chrome armour that intriguing details continue to resurface, and I respect Thompson’s willingness to present the character as, above all, an irredeemable bad guy, out for herself and the totalitarian First Order, and nobody else. Even Pilot gets offed, but it’s a mercifully quick death – efficiency, after all, is what Captain Phasma and, indeed, Captain Phasma, pride themselves on.