Synopsis: While attempting to uncover a spy in the Alliance’s ranks, Leia assembles a specialized team of X-Wing pilots to assist in the search for the rebellion’s new home. Meanwhile, Imperial Colonel Bircher acquaints himself with his new command while Han and Chewie have a run in with a certain well known bounty hunter.
Our second issue opens in deep space, where Han Solo and Chewbacca are waiting at rendezvous coordinates before being ambushed by Boba Fett. The pair makes their escape just as an Imperial Star Destroyer drops out of hyperspace.
The banter between Han and Chewie in these pages is spot on, and while it’s always nice to see them their presence in the story so far is beginning to feel a little forced (no pun intended). The writing is there, the art is there (Carlos D’Anda’s images of Slave I pursuing the Falcon before its escape perfectly evoke the space pursuits of the films), but the motivation is not. All we know so far is that they’ve been tasked with an important mission from Mon Mothma.
While you might say that not knowing the purpose of this mission puts you in the shoes of the characters, doling out bits of information slowly and over a long time can have a negative effect on readers. We already share a bond with the characters, but we need to also care about their motivations in order to strengthen that bond and become more invested in their story.
I’m sure their mission is building to something, and I have enough faith in Brian Wood’s storytelling abilities to wait for the payoff, but in the meantime I can’t help but think that their inclusion looks like fan service and isn’t adding anything to the story. Here’s hoping their journey to Coruscant, I mean… Imperial Center jump starts their plot thread.
Princess Leia’s arc on the other hand continues to impress, as more and more she becomes the heart of this series. Her strong and capable leadership is deftly balanced with her continued mourning of the loss of Alderaan. While Brian Wood’s writing gives voice to these emotions, Carlos D’Anda’s art deserves a lot of credit in these quiet moments.
D’Anda’s panel establishing Leia in this issue is powerfully subtle. Leia, in a darkened room, head bowed, shoulders hunched, with only the faintest of lights illuminating her, poignantly conveys the loneliness of her situation.
He then proceeds to outdo himself on the next page. It beautifully marries his art to Gabe Eltaeb’s coloring in a masterful expression of sorrow captured perfectly on Leia’s face and enhanced with the reflection of the holo-images blue light being reflected in her tears.
Seriously, this comic’s depiction of Princess Leia is worth the price of each issue alone. The character has never affected me the way she does here. It’s given me a new appreciation for her and her story, one that will resonate with me during all future viewings of A New Hope.
While the comic’s characterization of Luke Skywalker isn’t quite as strong yet, I appreciate what they’re doing with him. He’s being written as a lighter, less experienced version of Anakin Skywalker, possessing the skill, natural talent, and over confidence of his father, but with a certain Tattooine farmboy naiveté that keeps him a bit more grounded.
This works especially well because it underscores one of the major themes of Star Wars: If Anakin the father and Luke the son are so similar, how can the audience be sure that history won’t repeat itself and that Luke won’t eventually fall to the dark side of the Force?
Though we have the benefit of already knowing how Luke completes the hero’s journey, his brashness in the training simulation with Wedge and his childish reference to Leia about Wedge being selected as the commando team’s second in command instead of himself are effective illustrations of how much Luke’s emotions put him at risk of going down the same path as his father.
Speaking of Wedge, I’m very impressed with the way he’s being used in this series. He’s been given a pathos that’s understandable in light of his experiences at Yavin, but still appears only when the character has meaning to the events unfolding. This is especially noticeable considering my earlier remarks about the use of Han and Chewie. While Wedge is nearly as big a fan favorite as those two are, his presence in the story feels natural and not forced.
Another character being given just the right amount of story time is Imperial Colonel Bircher. The comic wisely resists the temptation to typecast him as “Evil Imperial of the Story” and instead begins to establish him as a fully three dimensional character. Though he retains the standard acerbic attitude we’ve come to expect from the Emperor’s servants, there are slight indications, such as his almost playful insulting of Ensign Llona and the occasional faint smile, that there’s more to him than your run of the mill mustache twirling villain. I’m intrigued by Bircher, and look forward to learning more about him as the series continues.
I’m also looking forward to learning more about Leia’s handpicked commando team, charged with the classified mission of locating a new base for the Alliance. I appreciated their dirty dozen-esque introduction, from the roll call establishing a bit about each member to the first look at their new X-Wings (love the paintjob). The team presents many opportunities for the comic, and it’ll be interesting to see how their story evolves.
The second issue of Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars continues the story that began in issue one at a perfect pace. I found myself wishing that this was a television show at several points due to the well crafted storytelling and character evolution that is mostly superb.
Brian Wood and his team are doing an amazing job of retroactively enhancing A New Hope by strengthening the connective tissue that binds it to the saga as a whole. It’s an unexpected, but welcome side effect of such a great comic. If you’re not reading it yet, you’re missing out. Get a copy as soon as you can.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5