Published: March 18, 2020
Rating: Rated T
Writer: Charles Soule
Penciler: Jesus Saiz
Colourists: Arif Prianto, Rochelle Rosenberg
Cover Artist: R B Silva, Guru-eFX
CATASTROPHE IN THE CLOUDS! LUKE SKYWALKER, LANDO CALRISSIAN and LEIA ORGANA have returned to CLOUD CITY! They each left things on BESPIN they desperately need – a weapon, a friend, and crucial information. But the city is swarming with IMPERIALS, under occupation by an EMPIRE desperate to steal its resources. Things did not go well for the trio the last time they visited this place. This time… might be even worse.
So far, this series has made me rethink a lot of what I think I know of the Original Trilogy, particularly where our characters are by Return of the Jedi. Last issue was incredibly written, Soule using fans knowledge of the beats of The Empire Strikes Back and turning it completely on its head, to create a very unique and surprising comic. I can’t wait to see where he takes us for part four…
As always, Soule does not disappoint! And as always, it’s where to begin! Let’s start with the troopers. If you have seen the last episode of the Mandalorian you’ll know what I’m referring to, but the conversation between the Imperial Naval officer and the tech guy was wonderful. Just like with The Mandalorian, I could listen for hours. It’s the everyday hum-drum of life that makes Star Wars more real, as well as give us humorous moments that we can relate to. From this point forward it feels like one big rollercoaster!
The character development in this issue is immense and really focuses on the two main characters for this series so far: Luke and Lando. Lando works so well in this issue. He is the one having to ask for help and having to save his own skin, finding that even Rebels won’t come to his aid. At this point it is Lobot saving the day, something that feels perfect. I like having these two working together, there is a friendship that goes back years, that is very different to the relationship that Lando has with Han, particularly as this point in the timeline. It shows that Lando does have a heart, and for me, it works better that his love is out of friendship, rather than lust. Soule has always known how to write a character’s voice, but this issue, Lando’s smooth talking was up there with some of his best. The way he tries to talk the stormtroopers around, my mental voice instantly switched to Billy Dee Williams. Even with having to rely on himself, we still see the signs that Lando’s opinion of the Rebels is starting to crack. He gets thanked for being the hero, for saving a skin that isn’t his own. The pause he gives says so much, and I’m sure this will continue to be echoed down further issues.
Soule really takes time with Luke in this issue and is the character that has given me most pause for thought. We see Luke at the start being very un-Luke like. He is actually being selfish. Lando needs help, but rather than being the reckless farm boy we know, he doesn’t drop everything and go and help. It really shows how much Luke relies on his lightsaber. He believes he needs it to help others, without it, he’s just like anyone else. That lightsaber is his lifejacket. Having not claimed it back, it’ll be interesting to see how he acts in the future, how quickly he’ll be determined to build a new one. It does allow Soule to play around with the character more, as Luke is going to have to rely more on himself than his weapon. Added to this was the other change that is perhaps obvious, but gets forgotten a bit too quick, Luke’s force power. At the end of The Empire Strikes Back, we see Luke face off against Vader, who Luke is no match for. Yet it is easy to forget that Luke has had a vast amount of training from Yoda at this point. He may not be a match for Vader yet, but his powers are considerable to what they were at the start of the film. In this issue, we get to see the culmination of that training. Luke is able to do a lot with his powers now and it’s impressive to see just how much he can do. I had never really thought about it, but Soule really knows where this character is and I love that I’m constantly having to re-evaluate what I know about these characters.
The artwork in this issue from Saiz is, of course, up to a very high standard. Saiz illustrates everything so well, from the carbonite blocks, to the troopers, to the characters. It all looks great and with the setting of Cloud City, really takes you back to The Empire Strikes Back. However, the wide panel focused around Luke’s vision is simply jaw dropping, incredible doesn’t even cut it. Where do you begin with a panel like that!? Vader is simply gorgeous, the flat matt inking of his helmet to his placement within the vision works so well. Having a force vision of Palpatine from the future is equally pleasing. You really get a sense of the confused way visions come to Luke, what is in motion, what is the past, every bit about it works.
This is Star Wars how it should be, taking what we know and given us a different slant, a chance to rethink what we know. Someone better (and greener) put it best, “You must unlearn what you have learnt”. For me, this sums up this series so far. Soule really knows what he’s doing here. He isn’t trying to rewrite Star Wars, but to show us a depth that hasn’t really been explored in this part of the timeline before. I said in my review of issue one, that I loved Shadows of the Empire, but Soule goes to a completely different level to that. I can’t wait to see where Soule heads us to next, a big focus on Luke is just what I want to see, and back in his trusty x-wing, what could be more perfect? Well…maybe….a shorter gap between issues?
Star Wars is an ongoing series available from Marvel. This issue is available via the Marvel App and all good comic bookstores. This issue retails at $3.99.