Synopsis: Luke and Wedge hatch a plan to escape from the Devastator as Han and Chewie finally leave Imperial Center behind them. Meanwhile, Leia decides what to do with an Imperial war criminal and Vader gets some long awaited information.
One of the best things about this series has been the pace of its storytelling. It reads less like a comic book and more like a serialized television series. This storytelling style allows enough room for smaller, individual stories while building upon a season long arc that tells a larger, all encompassing one.
As such, this issue felt a lot like the penultimate episode of a season, the one that puts all the pieces in place for an explosive finale. Long running storylines were moved closer to their resolutions while new developments occurred that began to lay the foundations for future events.
Particularly poignant? and timely, was Leia?s decision not to exact vengeance on Tag Rogaren. Leia?s grief over Alderaan has consumed her since Issue #1. Not killing the man responsible for the weapon that caused its destruction demonstrates that Leia is ready to move past Alderaan and continue living.
Leia's last line in this issue as she heads back to the fleet, "Now let?s go home", is an acknowledgement that her old home is gone, but that she?s found a new one in the Alliance. Brian Wood's done an amazing job with his characterization of Leia, and I hope that he chooses to end her mourning of Alderaan here. While it's given a new (and needed) weight to the destruction of Alderaan in A New Hope, it's run its course in this story and come to a perfect conclusion here.
Another character dealing with his fair share of grief is Wedge. While this has been strongly hinted at on a number of occasions throughout the series, nowhere has it been as strongly stated as it was during his conversation with Luke at the beginning of this issue.
It was an affecting exchange between the two that revealed more of Wedge's emotional state, deepening his character. His quiet reflections on the personal losses he's endured were touching, and his motivations for adopting the Rouge Squadron moniker once again showcased this series' ability to retroactively imbue the events of A New Hope with a relevance and depth Star Wars fans can sometimes overlook.
I really loved Luke and Wedge in this issue. Their interaction really showed that these two characters have a great chemistry. I hope Brian Wood writes more scenes with them together and continues to develop their friendship, there's a lot of potential there.
The impact of their conversation was brilliantly enhanced by the drawing of returning artist Carlos D'Anda, whose interpretation of this galaxy of mythic heroes and villains has been sorely missed over the last few issues.
Departing artist Ryan Kelly's pencils didn't work nearly as well for this series. He drew the technology of Star Wars in such a uniform way that it lacked a creative touch, and his character design gave everyone the same gaunt, almost sickly appearance. Welcome back, Carlos, these visuals feel right again.
This is especially true when his visuals are paired with Gabe Eltaeb's colors. Something about D'Anda's art works perfectly with the way Eltaeb colors this series, and the conversation between Luke and Wedge was an excellent example of this.
I loved how the scene began with the two illuminated by a harsh, red light that slowly gave way to a soft, blue one as they got closer to launch (and escape) from the Star Destroyer. As their conversation and situation gave way to hope, so did the lighting on their faces give way to a softer, more hopeful hue. This was beautifully prominent in the lush two page spread on pages four and five.
The talents of D'Anda and Eltaeb were again appreciated in the scene where Darth Vader finally has his suspicions about the Skywalker who destroyed the Death Star confirmed. Between D'Anda?s close up drawing of the Dark Lord's eyes (which once again, seem to emote in his art), Eltaeb's coloring of the hologram's light reflecting in Vader's armor, and Wood's scripting of Skywalker's importance to Vader ("He is a threat and a Force beyond your comprehension."), this scene worked on every level, and is sure to be an essential part of the story going forward.
Still far from being an essential part of the story is one Han Solo, who with his furry companion Chewbacca finally makes it off Imperial Center. Here's hoping their escape is a sign that this ten issue goes nowhere, does nothing plot is resolved very soon and that Han and Chewie are given a worthwhile storyline.
As for the overall storyline, with Imperial Colonel Bircher finally catching up with the Rebel Fleet and ordering the attack he's been looking forward to since Issue #1, it feels like we've finally escaped the "Shadow Of Yavin". The series is poised to end its "first season" and begin a new one far enough removed from A New Hope to strike out in more original directions while building upon a strong first ten issues.
Leia's return to a fleet under Imperial attack with Luke and Wedge hidden among the incoming TIEs is going to make for a strong "season finale" in the next issue or two. For those of you wondering when this series would get the kind of epic space battle Star Wars is known for, I have a feeling you're about to get what you've been waiting for.
See you next month.
Rating: 4.5 Out Of 5