Visit the lighter side of the Star Wars universe.
There’s something about Star Wars that lends itself extremely well to the comedic, family-friendly treatment. You have Jeffrey Brown’s wildly popular Vader and Son graphic novel and its many offshoots. You have the Star Wars Detours animated series that almost was. And at Marvel, you have Chris Eliopoulos’ droid-centric comic strips. Always an entertaining treat after Marvel’s cinematic, continuity-focused stories, these droid strips now have the chance to stand on their won thanks to Droids Unplugged #1.
Droids Unplugged reprints three previous stories from Eliopoulos and colorist Jordie Bellaire, tales which span the three Star Wars trilogies. The first, “Probe Droid Problems,” focuses on one of Darth Maul’s wayward droids as it makes a new friend amid the harsh backdrop of Tatooine. This story plays out a lot like the first half of Pixar’s WALL-E, as it’s all about one plucky robot trying to cozy up another and mostly foregoes pesky things like dialogue. It works for many of the same reasons, offering a cute, heartwarming little story. This is where Bellaire’s coloring shines the brightest ((literally) as she works wonders with the sun-drenched desert landscape.
Next up is “Droid Dilemma,” where Luke and Leia give R2-D2 the thankless task of gathering supplies in an overcrowded room full of junk and cranky droids. This is the relative weak point in the book, only because Eliopoulos storytelling becomes a little unclear towards the end. The wonky perspective and lack of dialogue can make it difficult to discern what exactly R2 is trying to accomplish. Even so, Eliopoulos puts a fun, stylized spin on many iconic Original Trilogy droid designs and highlights the tragedy of being a droid in an organization were humans simply don’t appreciate the effort you put in.
Finally, Eliopoulos and Bellaire jump forward to the timeline of The Force Awakens as BB-8 attempts to play matchmaker between two frazzled Resistance soldiers. This is definitely the strongest of the bunch, with a fun interplay between the human characters and the silent, mischievous BB-8, plus a heartwarming ending tying it all together. Eliopolous’ expressive characters and Bellaire’s warm, inviting characters both combine to give the story a very cheerful and wholesome quality.
Basically, this issue won’t steer you wrong if you have yet to read these droid adventures and crave a little lighthearted Star Wars fun. The problem being that there’s not much incentive for readers to double dip if they’ve already experienced these strips elsewhere. The original solicitation at least promised one new, 2-page story, but that story seems to have evaporated between then and now. Yes, it’s nice having all three Droids Unplugged stories in the same place now, but that alone doesn’t exactly justify the $3.99 price tag. For veteran readers, the best argument for buying this issue is to convince Marvel that there’s a market for more Droids Unplugged.