Published: November 24, 2021
Assistant Editor: Riley Farmer
Editor: Heather Antos
Cover Artist: Arianna Florean
The Hoojib Menace
Writer: Cavan Scott
Artist: Arianna Florean
Colourist: Ronda Pattison
Letterer: Johanna Nattalie
Writer: Chip Zdarsky & Jason Loo
Artist: Jason Loo
Colourist: Megan Huang
Letterer: Johanna Nattalie
Desperate to win Jabba the Hutt’s favor, Han Solo and Chewbacca take the galactic gangster a very special present. Han thinks the adorable hoojib will make a perfect addition to Jabba’s menagerie, but the cute critter hides a terrible secret. Cavan Scott (Star Wars: The High Republic) and Arianna Florean (Marvel Action) reintroduce a legendary alien species to Star Wars canon, 40 years after their first appearance!
THEN, follow a group of troublesome kids on Cloud City when they come across a rare coin worth a pretty credit. But when the coin turns out to belong to the one and only Lando Calrissian, the kids quickly find out they are in over their head. Chip Zdarsky (Daredevil) and Jason Loo (The Pitiful Human-Lizard) join forces to tell this Bespin-based story.
Ah, the holiday annual. A tradition that goes back decades! Yet in recent years it has been met with some disappointment. In certain areas of comics, the annual has been nothing more than odd stories that, let’s face it, could be better. Yet IDW have always done a good annual for Star Wars and I’m not expecting this year to be any different. Firstly, we have Cavan Scott (I’m not quite sure how Scott has so much time to pen so many great stories!) with The Hoojib Menace, doing what Scott does best; embracing the original Marvel years. He is joined by artist Arianna Florean, who needs no introduction to followers of Star Wars Adventures. The second tale is written by Chip Zdarsky with Jason Loo on illustrations, called The Coin. Both are established comic writers and artists, so it’ll be interesting to see what they bring to this tale.
After writing a lot about a certain ‘space bunny’, Scott is back to bring the hoojib’s back into canon. I have mentioned before that I have a fleeting knowledge of the original Marvel universe and so my knowledge is somewhat limited. That said, I do have the audio of the Planet of the Hoojibs, which thankfully meant I at least recognise the name! It is obvious the one that Scott has for the original Marvel series and I’m sure for fans who know the little drops that Scott does, that this will satisfy them no end. The planet where the creatures are, Arbra, is the same planet from issue fifty-five where the creatures are first introduced. There are other pieces throughout, some I recognised and others, well, they’re in there, I’m sure of it! Scott is able to satisfy the older fans and introduce these creatures to newer fans without alienating them. It didn’t matter that I knew very little of them, the story was compelling without that knowledge.
For me, although having the hoojibs is quite fun, the real drive behind this story is Han and Chewie. Scott is very quick to place this on the timeline when the pair have only just begun to work for Jabba. The pair know each other well enough but haven’t had to deal too much with the likes of this particular crime lord. It is this pair that I could read again and again, their interactions with one another, acting like the old, married couple that we all love to watch in the movies. Chewie is the angle on Han’s shoulder, always telling him what he should be doing, and always giving him that disapproving look when he falls short. But what comes through again and again from Scott’s writing and Florean’s artwork is the love that is between these two characters. I will never tire of seeing that. It shines through every single page.
The hoojibs. as well as being a nostalgic look back to an older series, also gives Scott a chance to add some depth to the story. The hoojibs are part of a spy network, the creatures being abused and bullied to do the bidding of a more powerful being. For younger readers, seeing how working together, to standing up for what is right, is an important lesson for them. It relates to the Ewoks rising up against the Empire and can be seen in numerous other franchises.
the artwork by Florean instantly grabs your attention, from the very first full page spread of the Falcon. She is able to guide the reader effortlessly as we travel between planets and different locations. Yet, as mentioned, it’s the interactions between Han and Chewie that Florean does so well. The emotion and tone of the two comes through again and again, really highlighting how close these two characters are. There is one page where the panels for Chewie don’t change and it works so well, the humour and timing perfect.
And on mentioning humour, there is plenty here, as I would always expect from Scott. Little nods to the Marvel series, characters that are beloved making appearances and even a quote from Casablanca. There is a lot here for any fan, whether they have read the Marvel series or not.
The second, shorter story is The Coin. Set on Bespin, it follows three children, Traff, Moxxin and Vanraya, as they try to keep a coin, they’ve stolen from Lando, getting back to him. This is a short tale with lots of action, but it also is able to delve into a few themes, that really help to set this story apart. The one that I found most interesting, is the idea that there is a class divide on Bespin. These children are stealing because they want something more, that they don’t feel that the current ‘government’ has their best interests at heart. Instead, they rely on a character called Wonn, who they can trade things in to get items that they want. Of course, most places will have a class divide but it is always interesting to see. Also, this story is set just as Lando has taken over administration of the city. He has a lot of pressure to make the right choices, to govern more than just himself. Lando shows that he is a character that grows, who tries to help the people he is tasked with ruling. It would be great to see Zdarsky and Loo return at a later date in Lando’s rule to see if he has tried to eradicate this divide. It is this unique perspective of Lando at the start of his journey at Bespin, of him sacrificing that which he holds dear, for the greater good of the people. It’s the rumblings of doing the right thing that we also see in Scott’s story with Han. The artwork by Loo is also enjoyable to view. It is gritty and really suits this tale.
This is an annual of scoundrels, of morals and a love of the original trilogy. More than that, it is taking fans back (or introducing them) to creatures from decades ago. Adventures usually covers different eras, different characters and different themes, yet this annual focuses on just a few and is better for it. I fell in love with the original trilogy first and to have stories that harken back to those characters is exactly what I want from an annual. This issue goes further, for fans of the original Marvel series, there is even more for them. No matter how much you have read, how much you know of the previous works, this annual has enough for everyone. It feels like Star Wars and the extra length afforded to it for being an annual is utilised well by all involved. Both stories I could have kept on reading for several more pages! This is what an annual should be about, one off (although I would happily read more) that celebrate being a fan.
Star Wars Adventures Annual 2021 is a one-shot comic published by IDW. This issue retails at $7.99 and is available all comic book stores in the US and Forbidden Planet in the UK.