We go back and take a look at the beginnings of Marvel’s modern Star Wars comics run. Here’s our review for the stellar #1…
When Disney acquired both Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios, it was only logical that Marvel Comics would be handed back the comic book rights to Star Wars. Amidst the sacking of the Expanded Universe that had been in Star Wars lore for decades, it was announced that the new Star Wars comics would be published by Marvel, and they would be fully canonized as well.
Of course, the usual grumbling of skeptical fans could be heard, worries that Marvel wouldn’t set out to create the best stories they could, with amazing artwork to match; that any writer and artist pair looking for work would be assigned the titles. Those fears were put to rest, with Marvel superstars Jason Aaron and John Cassaday running the comic as smoothly as Han Solo and Chewbacca fly the Millenium Falcon.
We first open on those familiar words, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” before we’re hit with the main title, in true Star Wars fashion, before the opening crawl is laid out before us. Immediately, we see the true impact that the Death Star’s destruction had on the Galactic Empire; those space stations don’t pay for themselves. A trade deal with Jabba the Hutt must be struck, and who better to negotiate that deal than… Han Solo?!
Alas, not all is ever as it seems, and soon R2-D2 is electrocuting Stormtroopers, Leia’s laying down the law, Overseer Aggadeen is staring down Han’s blaster barrel and Luke is dismembering limbs in true Kenobi style. Who said Kenobi taught Luke nothing about combat?
The artwork in this issue, thanks to John Cassaday, is truly stunning. His faces for the main cast match perfectly with the young Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill. The choice to make Luke continue to wear the yellow jacket he wore during the final minutes of the original Star Wars epic helps remind the reader that this story is occurring not long after the film, with Luke’s little bit of lightsaber work directing him closer to his wielding of both a blaster and his father’s lightsaber in the Empire Strikes Back. Plus his attempt at a Jedi mind trick is hilarious.
No Star Wars comic would be complete without the big cyborg in black himself: Darth Vader! Cassaday truly captures the stoicism of Vader, with Vader never looking unfazed, even during an assassination attempt. Although it is a shame that the colourist, Laura Martin, didn’t get to colour his helmet’s lenses with a hint of red, but the rest of her work is stellar, capturing that dark, dirty series of browns for a dystopic factory on an Imperial moon, while also showing the cold metals of the interior.
Chewbacca soon gets his moment to shine during the assassination attempt, taking a series of sniper shots at the preternaturally aware Vader, who brutally and callously hoists a pair of Stormtroopers to take the barrage. Leia’s decision to have Chewbacca fire, not considering Vader’s Force abilities, helps to hit home that the Force is little more than a myth after 19 years of Empirical oppression.
As the issue closes, we see Han get a bright idea to escape the factory using the iconic AT-AT Walker, we see C-3PO prepare to defend himself and the Millenium Falcon with a blaster and watch Luke face the Dark Lord of the Sith himself for the first time, with old Ben’s voice telling him to run!
With this first issue, and first series of cliffhangers, I have great confidence in the future of Star Wars books, with a number of limited series, and two ongoing Darth Vader books, one recently completed, another one just beginning. Although the question must be asked, will Luke and Darth Vader combat each other before their duel in Episode V? The answer awaits us… in the next issue!