Review – A Typical Heist Gone Wrong In Marvel’s Beckett
There were many things I loved about Solo: A Star Wars Story, but Tobias Beckett was not one of them. However, I kept my mind open when this one-shot issue made it into my hands. Nice cover, the possibility of more Enfys, maybe more Val – and if it kept with the spirit of the film and the ongoing Lando series I could get into it. What did I think? SPOILERS AHEAD….
Before I dive in, let me clarify that I don’t hate the character Beckett. I just didn’t really get into him or buy into this man being the person that showed Han the ropes of ‘scoundrel-dom’ (that’s a made up term). I know in past reviews I have a tendency to focus on characters that may irritate me, so I just wanted to get it out of the way that I’m no Beckett fan, but if the story is good, then I can overlook my dislike. That’s not really the case here, though there are a few fun moments in this issue, and I’ll try to focus more on those. This book is unique in the fact it’s split-up like a pulp western or crime novel into three chapters, each with a different artist. There’s not a huge amount of variation in the depictions, but enough to keep it interesting.
The story kicks off in a mariner spaceport on the planet Hovun IV. It’s never really established if this is a world covered in water entirely, but all the action takes place on its high seas. Seems appropriately pirate. Our little friend Rio Durant is in the middle of some high stakes game, when local myth – the Death Priest – appears to claim retribution for Rio having ripped him off. The table of players scrambles and we see Val discreetly place a tracker in the pouch of one of them. This is all a ruse to get at something bigger, because the Death Priest is Beckett in disguise, and now the person Val tagged is going to lead them to his ship.
They’re not after coaxium, but another commodity the Empire has seemed to gobble up in the aftermath of the Clone Wars….blank ID chips. Not exactly the most exciting bounty, but Beckett mentions they’ve become priceless and Dryden Vos wants as many as they can get. This makes sense, since we’ve seen how tightly regulated spaceports in the Core Worlds became under the Empire. Bucket-heads and regional governors no doubt like knowing exactly who is moving through their territories. Crimson Dawn would no doubt have a lot of use for false identification. The dilemma Beckett and company face is the person who posses these, a man called Dvorad, has an elusive ship that no one’s ever seen. Thanks to Val, Dvorad is on the move and going to lead them right to it. Theoretically, of course.
As the gang is coming up with their plan, Beckett spots Dvorad hopping into a speeder to head out to sea. He jumps in and it takes off, leaving Val and Rio to find their own transportation. Beckett seems to have things in hand, taking down Dvorad, but his target is not about to give up the blank ID chips. Val and Rio catch up on a deluxe speeder of their own, with it’s own bar. Just as Dvorad seems to be cornered, his mysterious ship comes in with a crew to the rescue.
Turns out Dvorad’s ship was hidden underwater and it’s got an arsenal to defend from the likes of Beckett, Val, and Rio. The heist seems to be at a dead end, until Beckett takes a little nip out of his hand and lets a few drops of blood hit the water. I guess Beckett knows his Star Wars too, because when there are bodies of water in this universe they typically host oversized, terrifying monsters.
Hovun IV is no exception to that rule. With blood in the water, an octopod makes very short work of the ship. Before it’s shredded to pieces by the jagged tentacles from under the sea, Beckett manages to hop aboard in hopes of securing the blank ID chips. Once aboard, Beckett blasts and dodges his way to the case containing his prize and makes it out just in time to avoid being sucked under the waves of Hovun IV.
The thief’s dilemma presents itself: Since Dryden didn’t know how many of the blank ID chips to expect, the gang can keep a few for themselves and make some side cash. I’m with Val and that cheating Vos, which basically means your cheating Crimson Dawn, which means you are cheating Darth Maul, isn’t a great way to ensure a long life in the galaxy. Rio and Beckett don’t seem to have made up their minds by the time we meet Beckett’s amazing ship, the Rampart.
I loved the Rampart. It’s a pretty cool looking ship and wished we would have seen the gang conducting their coaxium heist using that in Solo. Looks great here, along with this honeycomb spaceport, Munt Ondal. Just as the gang arrives, we learn Val has been democratically overruled by Rio and Beckett about skimping Dryden Vos on his blank ID chips. Not only that, but once they land, the gang is attacked and Beckett realizes they were setup to track these down by someone posing as Dryden Vos through an encoded communication. Who in the galaxy would do a thing like that?
Enfys Nest has entered the story, but don’t get too excited like I did. Sadly, Enfys vanishes just as quickly as she appears. Enfys reveals she was behind the whole setup and demands the chips. Instead, Beckett detonates the Rampart and the explosion allows the gang to escape, leaving Enfys’ fate uncertain. I hope Lucasfilm has some better plans to tell more stories about Enfys Nest, because this cameo did nothing for me other than “Hey, it’s Enfys Nest, cool!”. I think she has three-lines of dialogue and it does nothing to underscore the adversarial relationship she has with Beckett in Solo.
Beckett, Val, and Rio shuffle out of the shuttle bay, past a few alarmed stormtroopers, and that’s essentially the end of the story. Beckett manages to show a glimpse of humanity by passing out some credits to a beggar, but that’s about as deep as we get. Yes, I was a little surprised with the build-up and arrival of Enfys Nest the book ends that abruptly, and it honestly made me wonder what the point of this one-shot was. I don’t feel I know Beckett any better than I did by the end of Solo.
Look, I’m just going to say between Val, Enfys Nest, and Qi’ra I have no idea why Marvel and Lucasfilm felt the need for this one-shot to be about Beckett. The art by Edgar Salazar (first chapter), Marc Laming (second chapter), Will Sliney (third chapter and my favorite), and colorist Jordan Boyd is terrific and the best thing this book has going for it – but I really wished there was more to the story. The story itself is pretty basic heist and really pretty dull. I’m not sure if writer Gerry Duggan was limited by the Story Group, but even in it’s most action pitched sequences the concepts feel two-steps behind the actual plot. It’s a good example of how a writer should never count on the Star Wars aspects to lift the story, especially in the current era of excellent Star Wars writing and storytelling onscreen and in pages. This is certainly a story we didn’t need and I hope Lucasfilm and Marvel give other characters more consideration with one-shot titles. The actual format and layout is pretty cool, it’s the star and his story that fall flat.