Star Wars C-3PO #1 “The Phantom Limb”
The inside story of how C-3PO ended up with a red arm for the movie Star Wars The Force Awakens.
Creators: James Robinson & Tony Harris
Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Reader Appeal: Ages 8 and up
Publisher Rating: T+ (ages 15 and up)
So yeah, I’m a big Star Wars fan, and learning the back-story behind C-3PO’s fancy red arm in Star Wars The Force Awakens sounded like fun. I actually went out of my way to find the Star Wars C-3PO one-shot of “The Phantom Limb,” because I was looking forward to reading it. Now that I’ve finished, I feel a little…underwhelmed. Having read James Robinson’s other work, I find it hard to believe a creative mind like his came up with this saccharine, artificial plot. My guess is he was given a storyline to follow, and did the best he could with what he had…but, as usual, I digress….
OK, “The Phantom Limb” tells this story: C-3PO and a cast of other (one-dimensional) droids are stranded on a random planet after their spaceship crashes. Alas, one of the droids (“Omri”) is an imperial prisoner under C-3PO’s guard. Now Threepio and the others must transport Omri across dangerous terrain to rejoin the rebels and deliver stolen information that will save Admiral Akbar…etc. etc. etc. So they embark and face murderous alien spiders, droid-sucking swamps, giant droid-hating dragonflies, droid-dissolving acid rain, and so on. Yep, it’s an “obstacle course” plot that conveniently “kills” every droid in the party until only C-3PO and Omri are left. Then there’s droid philosophy and sacrificial acts and, well, to tell you more would tell you exactly how that red arm happened, so I won’t do that. But chances are you’ve already figured it out anyway.
I was surprised by how much I disliked this comic. The story felt bland and contrived. The characters seemed to be created simply to be sacrificed so we, the readers, would understand how “serious” the situation was. Tony Harris’s art was unique and showed obvious talent, but the experimental, ultra-thick-line inking of his pencils was frequently distracting. The color palette, intended to highlight an “alien landscape,” actually muddied most images in greens, browns, and purples, to the point that sometimes the illustration was visually unintelligible. Was it “art?” Sure. Was it reader-accessible art? Well, no. Sometimes an artist needs to remember that comic art is intended to tell a story, not simply to be artistic experimentation. Illustrators who can create art that serves the story are the ones I enjoy most.
Parents should be aware that Star Wars C-3PO is rated T+ (for teens ages 15 and up)—although I’m not sure why. There are explosions and droid-deaths, but nothing worse than what you’d see in a typical Star Wars cartoon or movie. My opinion is kids ages 8 and up would be fine reading this comic—though you should check it out for yourself before assuming that it’s appropriate for your kids.
Overall, as is obvious, I was disappointed with this comic. It’s possible my expectations were too high, and that I read from an adult perspective instead of a kid’s perspective. And let’s face it, I’m pretty critical about things I’m incapable of creating, so take my opinions with a grain of salt. If there are C-3PO fans in your home, they’ll probably enjoy this story, although with a premium $4.99 price tag, it may not be worth the cost. Your call, Mom and Dad.
Let's Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this book:
• What makes C-3PO such a fun character, in your opinion? List three things.
• “The Phantom Limb” is about friendship and sacrifice among droids. What point do you think the writer was trying to make about that?
• Star Wars C-3PO is rated “T+, for ages 15 and up.” How would you have rated this comic? Why?
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