Synopsis: In the wake of the Death Star’s destruction during the Battle of Yavin IV, the Rebel Alliance searches for a new place to call home. Meanwhile, a disgraced Darth Vader finds himself reassigned when a new enemy is tasked with eliminating the fledgling rebellion.
There’s a feeling I get at the end of A New Hope that can’t be matched at the conclusion of any other Star Wars film, the feeling that from where I leave the characters anything can happen. From the dais in the Grand Audience Chamber on Yavin IV, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and everyone surrounding them can go anywhere and have any adventure I could possibly imagine. It’s a moment filled with exciting possibilities, because the rest of their story hasn’t been told yet.
Dark Horse’s new Star Wars monthly comic capitalizes on this opportunity and picks up the story only days after the end of A New Hope. In this series, which reboots the Star Wars comics continuity, the events of The Empire Strikes Back are still three years away.
Luke is slightly experienced but still fresh from the farm with no idea of the destiny that awaits him. Han is still more scoundrel than hero, struggling to listen to the better angels of his nature. And Leia is still reeling from the genocidal annihilation of her home planet, fresh from being made to witness it by Grand Moff Tarkin.
Writer Brian Wood (The Massive) magnificently imbues the characters we’ve come to know so well over the last 36 years with a poignant humanity that has often been missing from other interpretations of them. In doing so, he captures their essence in a surprisingly engaging way that holds your attention throughout the issue.
His Princess Leia is by far the most interestingly written version of the character I’ve ever read, and gives the heroine a contemporary spin that makes Katniss Everdeen look like Bella Swan. X-Wing pilot, soldier, military commander, Leia is all of these things and more in just the first issue. I found myself surprised at how new she felt, which is quite a gift when you’re reading a character you’ve known literally your entire life.
While Leia was definitely the highlight of this issue, every one of these characters from Mon Mothma to Darth Vader are written with the same care and attention. Brian Wood’s writing keeps them true to the core of who we know them to be, but with a deeper humanity that makes them more relatable and, dare I say it, real.
But it’s not just the characters. Wood writes the galaxy far, far away in a manner proving that he gets it. His descriptions of the Empire and Rebel Alliance perfectly convey just how oppressive the Empire is, and how futile the struggle of the rebellion seems. It’s as if the Force itself provides commentary as some of the events unfold during the issue, perfectly complimenting Carlos D’anda’s (Batman: Arkham City) art.
And what beautiful art it is. From three X-Wings silhouetted against a blue giant star, to faces drawn so expressively that word balloons aren’t necessary, many of the panels in this issue are worthy to be framed.
Star Wars #1 has the tough task of taking a well established galaxy with iconic characters and telling a relevant new story with them set during a familiar time and succeeds brilliantly. It draws you in and leaves you wanting to continue reading. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and can’t wait to get my hands on the next issue.
Rating: Five out of five stars
I loved how the issue showed that the Alliance’s victory at Yavin came at a high price, and how it personalized that price through Luke (Owen, Beru, Obi-Wan), Wedge (Red Squadron), and Leia (Alderaan). It’s a realistic look at the price of war, and lends a certain verisimilitude to the comic.
Luke's statement of wanting to commit to learning more about the Force for Obi-Wan and his father was an effective reminder of his lineage without being an overly obvious wink at the reader. It made sense within the context of the story, and gave his words a greater weight than he realized.
The brief passages of exposition are a great way of grounding you in this galaxy, and bring you back to the era of the classic trilogy by defining its central struggle. Reading these words, seeing these images, make Star Wars feel epic again. Though we will experience the events of this monumental conflict through the eyes of but a few, their actions have direct consequences for an unimaginable number of beings and worlds. Those are some pretty high stakes, and it's nice to be reminded of the larger Star Wars galaxy when it can sometimes seem more like a neighborhood with the same characters constantly bumping into, or having crucial connections to one another.
Downed X-Wing pilot Leia moving through the tall grass, blaster drawn, blood on her face, takes out the TIE pilot… several times. Choom, Choom indeed…
It was great to see the events of A NEW HOPE be treated with the kind of significance they deserve. It’s clear the galaxy is still reeling from these events and taking the time to deal with their consequences conveys the great importance of what we as fans sometimes take for granted due to our familiarity with them.
What did you think? Were you as pleased with the new comic as I was? Were you disappointed by there not being a Jar Jar appearance? Sound off below!