Phasma Got a Raw Deal
When promotional material came out for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (TFA), few things were as striking as that image of shiny chrome stormtrooper armor punctuated by a red-trimmed cape. “I must know who that is,” I thought to myself. As details came out, that image was revealed to belong to Captain Phasma of the First Order. Better still, the suit was being filled by none other than Gwendolyn Christie, of recent Game of Thrones fame. Sweet.
Now, I’m not a huge Game of Thrones fan, but I am a fan of Brienne of Tarth (Gwen Christie’s character on the show). I loved her character in the books, and what little I saw on the show, and thus I liked Gwen Christie and was freaking pumped for her in the role of Phasma. A badass woman leading the storm troopers? Sign me up! That armor is so cool, and Gwen is so cool. Can’t wait.
So I went ahead and bought myself some Phasma merch before the film even came out. What an awesome villain. What a cool suit. So Psyched.
Then the movie came out.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved TFA, and I still do. For all its flaws, it’s a rollicking fun adventure worthy of the Star Wars franchise. Unfortunately, one of my major complaints was Phasma. For such a cool looking character, she just doesn’t do much.
In all of TFA, Phasma has 1:45 of total screen time (I looked it up). That’s just a little bit more than Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) who dies in the first scene of the movie! In that time, what does she do? She looks awesome, of course, and she gives some orders. That’s about it. Toward the end of the film she gets humiliated by Finn and literally thrown in the garbage. Ugh, what a disappointment.
For being so excited by the concept of a character, this was a huge letdown. I was so interested to see what this character would bring to the movie, and what her deal was, and it was just so much nothing. Again, I loved TFA, but this one thing has stuck with me since it came out.
Now, finally, Phasma is getting some much-needed attention. Not only is she appearing in Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (hopefully for more than 1:45 minutes), but she has a new novel and a comic to boot. The Novel has me pretty stoked but I have not been able to read it yet. It’s from author Delilah S. Dawson, and if it’s anything like her novel Wake of Vultures (which you should totally read too) then it will be amazing. The comic I have read and it’s pretty freaking great—it takes Phasma getting thrown in the trash and builds on it to wonderful effect.
The comic is narrated by Phasma as she makes her officer log after the destruction of Starkiller base in TFA. As things play out though, the actual events are much different than what’s on Phasma’s official log.
If you don’t remember from the movie, Finn and Han capture Phasma and force her at gunpoint to lower the shields, letting the Resistance forces in to directly attack the base. As Phasma reports, however, it is unknown who lowered the shields and so she must go investigate. As she records these words she does indeed investigate. She investigates who else had access to the panel where she lowered the shields even as she erases her activity from the internal log. Then, she goes out to assassinate the only other person who could have lowered the shields so she can take credit for his capture.
Immediately, we get more insight into this character in only a few pages than the movie gave us in its two hours plus running-time. Phasma is devious and conniving. The first thing she does after getting out of the trash compactor is cover her own ass and find a way to pin it on someone else. That’s awesomely evil, and it almost makes me forgive them dumping her in the trash in the first place (but not quite).
The Hunt is On
Once she has a name and a face to go with it, the rest of the issue is devoted to Phasma trying to hunt her patsy down so she can kill him and claim justice for the one who betrayed the First Order. I’m starting to get an idea of how she got to be Captain in the first place, and it wasn’t through her leadership capabilities. She’s evil, cunning, and ambitious, all things that fit the Empire and First Order–as well as the Sith–so perfectly.
Phasma hunts her prey through the base itself and even out onto the moon’s surface where she glimpses. Kylo Ren and Rey fighting. She is unable to get to him before he makes it to a hangar and takes off aboard a tie fighter. Inside the hangar, she orders a tie pilot to take her out just in time to escape the Starkiller exploding (but not before ordering two other troops to stay at their posts. Sorry/Not sorry.) From there, we’ll have to wait until issue two to see if she can track down her scapegoat and make him pay for the crime she committed before the truth gets out.
This was a slam-bang first issue and I loved it all: from Phasma’s deviousness to the way the officer’s log was used to show how clever she is, to the amazing artwork. Her polished armor has never looked cooler, and the scenery matches the feel of the film perfectly. Writer Kelly Thompson is in top form here. Between this, the recent Generations: Hawkeyes issue, and the regular run of Hawkeye starring Kate Bishop, Thompson is really killing it this month. I cannot wait for the next issue.
For anyone else disappointed with Phasma from her briefest of brief appearances in TFA, this comic will give you some closure. It is full of great moments that give us a sense of who Phasma is and it builds on the unfortunate treatment she received in the movie in a fun and cool way that makes it almost forgivable. With each page turn, I couldn’t help but smile. This was the Phasma I was waiting for.
I love Star Wars, and I love villains, and Phasma is finally shaping up to be one of the better ones in the Star Wars universe thanks to Kelly Thompson. Here’s hoping that her appearance in The Last Jedi is as good as this comic.
Fanfinites rating – Perfect 10/10!
Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Captain Phasma #1
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Andres Mossa
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles