Simone Bianchi (1972- ) started to work on american comic books in 2004, for both DC (Seven Soldiers : Shining Knight) and Marvel (covers for X-Men Unlimited). But his most important job might be on Astonishing X-Men, a comic book series he took over with the writer Warren Ellis after the departure of its creators, Josh Whedon and John Cassaday. He drew six issues for Astonishing X-Men with Warren Ellis, for the run Ghost Box, a story about a parallel world on which mutants are different from our Earth. For one issue only of Star Wars, Simone Bianchi took the pencils and drew a fantastic story across Obi-Wan Kenobi’s past on Tatooine.
Following the events occurred in Star Wars III : Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan is one of the few jedi knights who survived the Emperor’s order 66. After the death of Padmé, the love of Anakin/Darth Vader, Obi-Wan took one of the twins, the boy, with him on Tatooine, Anakin’s birth planet. There, he intrusted the infant to his only family left, Owen and Beru Lars. But what happened to Obi-Wan all these years ? Did he stayed on Tatooine, or did he join the Rebels to fight against the empire ? He settled on the sand planet, near where the Lars live, and watch over Luke growing up. His life on Tatooine was hard ; he couldn’t use the Force without jeopardise his cover and Luke’s, but the hero in him couldn’t stand the unfairness of Jabba’s emissaries stealing water from the poor inhabitants as tax. Fighting his former-self, Obi-Wan – now known as Ben – left the market, angry at himself. He was no longer a jedi master, no longer a general in the Republic’s army, only the poor and old hermit Ben. He lived secluded, away from any lifeforms, on a small house. This page, depicting Obi-Wan going away from the market to his house, is a wonderful one. The suns setting then the nightcape indicate how far from the city Obi-Wan’s home is. He is the only character on this page, which reinforce the loneliness’ feeling the reader has, even without any text. There lies the beauty of this page : the drawings speak for themselves. And what drawings do we have here. They don’t look like the drawings other artists would design. The particular style of Simone Bianchi makes the lines dance. Look closely : we can’t see any right lines, everything is moving under the light of the suns. The second panel in particular is magnificent. Walking on the sand, the suns slowly getting down behind him, his cape floating on air, Obi-Wan’s protecting himself from the suns with a hood. The former hero looks like a pilgrim, and Simone Bianchi‘s style gives him a special something we can’t find elsewhere. It surrounds the character with a poetical touch no one else can design.
Speaking about something no one has, let’s take a look at young Luke Skywlaker. Blond and smiling, he looks like his father at his age. Unfortunately, Obi-Wan wasn’t allowed to train him in the jedi way – Owen’s order – so he could only watch over him. But maybe it was for the best : after all, the last jedi Obi-Wan trained turned to the dark side of the Force and killed the padawans in the jedi temple on Coruscant. The all page is a contemplative one, like many in this issue, and Simone Bianchi‘s style is perfect for such pages. The four panels depicting only one action, Luke under Obi-Wan’s observation. The use of different framing varies the view angles and lets us look closely to the character’s expressions. If Luke looks carefree and innocent, Obi-Wan seems troubled by his thoughts and his past. The contrast between their two faces is striking : the smiling and young blond boy against the worried bearded man who frowned. The use of a solid-black on the first panel allows Simone Bianchi to put Obi Wan on the same plane as we are. Doing so, he digs into the perspective, giving the illusion that the picture is more deep than it really is.
Luckily for him, Luke got sometimes into troubles, getting Obi Wan out of his loneliness. In this episode, the former jedi just saved Luke’s life from Jabba’s tax collectors, against whom Luke rose up alone. But what could a boy do against five trained killers ? The composition of this page seems very religious. Hooded, his cape floating on the air, Obi-Wan carries a white-wearing fainted Luke. Obi-Wan looks like a jedi Jesus who rescued one of his believers. A motif emerges from the way his cape and Luke’s body are drawn, and it’s a cross. The cross symbol reinforce the religious feeling. Or maybe Obi-Wan looks more like a virgin Mary, and Luke a dead Christ like in the Pieta (like the one Michelangelo sculpted in 1498-1499). After all, Anakin was the chosen one. Thus it’s not that weird his son is surrounded by a religious aura.
If you dear readers should read only one issue of Star Wars (I don’t know why anyone would do that, but let’s dream up about this), I strongly suggest you pick this one. The story fills a void any Star Wars fan felt (what did Obi-Wan do on Tatooine ?), staring a character who is dead on the Star Wars series, with drop dead beautiful drawings. Sadly, Simone Bianchi‘s work stopped here, for only one issue … let’s hope he’ll come back soon.