Comic Review: Star Wars (2020) #01

Published: January 1, 2020
Rating: Rated T
Writer: Charles Soule
Penciler: Jesús Saiz
Colourists: Jesús Saiz; Arif Prianto
Cover Artists: R B Silva & Guru-eFX

The synopsis;

“No…I am your father.”
In the wake of the events following The Empire Strikes Back, it is a dark time for the heroes of the Rebellion. The Rebel fleet…scattered following a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Hoth. Han Solo…lost to the bounty hunter, Boba Fett, after being frozen in carbonite. And after being lured into a trap on Cloud City and bested in a vicious lightsaber duel against the evil Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker…learned the horrible truth about his past. Vader did not kill Luke’s father Anakin–Vader is Luke’s father! Now, after narrowly escaping the dark lord’s clutches, and wounded and reeling from the revelation, Luke, Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, the Wookiee Chewbacca and the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 must fight their way back to the Rebel Alliance-for the fate of the entire galaxy is at stake! After so many losses is victory still possible?  But, what Leia, Luke and their ragtag band of freedom fighters do not realize is that they have only traded one Imperial trap for another! Enter the cunning and vengeful Imperial Commander Zahra, at the helm of the Tarkin’s Will!
Writer Charles Soule (DARTH VADER) and artist Jesús Saiz (DOCTOR STRANGE) are taking us all to the galaxy far, far away next year! With covers by RB Silva (POWERS OF X)!
THE GREATEST SPACE ADVENTURE OF ALL TIME BEGINS THIS JANUARY!

The review;

The first review of the year and talk about an issue. This comic marks the start of the relaunch of all the Marvel Star Wars comics, that will now be set post The Empire Strikes Back. I’m very excited to see where this series goes, although with a very high expectation set. The first reason for this is because of the time frame. In the old Expanded Universe, this time period was set with Shadows of the Empire, a first for being a multimedia project, a movie without the film. Everything about that story I loved, so how this replaces that is of great interest. The second reason for my high expectations is because of the writer Charles Soule. My first reviews for Jedi News were of the Poe Dameron series by Soule and contained within them were some of the very best Star Wars writing I had (or have) ever seen. The depth and complexity the stories went to, while still remaining Star Wars, was incredible. Soule has since done a Darth Vader run which was equally as wonderful so I’m very keen to see what he will do here (no pressure or anything!). After the preview we saw in Empire Ascendant I think we should be in safe hands…

Talk about a first issue! Immediately we are placed into a galaxy far, far away, with those words (in blue), with Star Wars and the crawl. Even though we know everything that is said in the crawl, it just feels right that it’s there, it sets the atmosphere that this is going to be something grand. The first thing that really spoke to me was when Soule has decided to set this, as technically it’s not after The Empire Strikes Back but during it. At the end of the film, we see Luke getting his hand replaced, this is yet to happen. The Falcon has just gone into lightspeed. Not only does this provide a lot of story content, but it allows us, as the reader, to reassess what is actually happening in the film. Soule addresses very quickly the Lando situation and I’m so glad he did. Most of the time, I don’t want to look differently at the original Star Wars movies because I love them, yet this is something I always thought strange, how our heroes can go to trusting Lando so quickly. Of course, they don’t. A lot of this issue sees the Lando from Solo, the one who is out for himself saving his own skin. It’s right that we see him like that here, armed with the knowledge that he does grow into the general he becomes in Return of the Jedi. I can’t wait to see how his attitude changes over the course of the series.

However, the star of the show is Luke and it should be. Star Wars, particularly original trilogy Star Wars was always about Luke and it is right that he should be the ultimate focus of this issue and I’m presuming this series. Soule takes us down a dark path with Luke and does so with such mastery that I find myself almost speechless, I’m not even sure where to start. The flashbacks work very well, you can feel Luke’s turmoil as he relives such a momentous moment and you can also feel teh fear and anger that emanate from him. All this leads us to seeing Luke flitting with the dark side as he can’t contain his emotions. This is a very different Luke from the previous series. This is a Luke who has been battered down and has the weight of the universe on his shoulders. Not only that, but he can’t share any of this with Leia, this is a burden that he has to bear alone. You get that sense of him having to hold back from Leia, of the pain that is rising up in him. To then have the moment with Obi-Wan and Vader, well, it was beautifully executed by both writer and artist. I had goose bumps at that moment. It’s what I have come to expect from Soule, to dive straight into a character and keep going deeper and deeper. To see it with Luke is a dream come true for me and I think by the end of this we’ll have a new appreciation for the character and what he has had to go through. If all of that wasn’t enough, Soule then pulls one last card for Luke out, a slower, character moment with Artoo. The droids haven’t been doing well lately, and for me, they are the foundation of Star Wars. I’m so pleased Soule takes the time for Luke and Artoo to have a moment, that Luke still has that one being (and Artoo is a being) who he can try and unload some of his worry onto. It’s a poignant moment in the comic.

By itself that makes for an amazing comic, yet there is so much more. We get to see Threepio as original Threepio, making us laugh, but not giving us gags. The expressions of the other characters says it all and it’s a testament to Saiz’s skills that it works so well. We also have the introduction of the main adversary, Commander Zahra. Right from her introduction she has me intrigued, someone who gets their hands dirty and has a pre-existing issue with Leia. There’s a lot there, a lot to tell and a lot to figure out for future issues. Finally, we have Dameron and Bey, Poe Dameron’s parents. We saw in the preview that they would be in the series but all the same, I’m glad to see them. These have been two very underutilised characters and I’m glad Soule is bringing them back out. A lot of these characters are having foundations set by Soule, ready for when they can take more of a spotlight. Again, I can’t wait!

I’ve been dropping little hints through the review of Saiz’s work, work I’ve never seen till now. Impressed is an understatement. From the very first panel there is something different to his work, it’s dull. I mean this as a huge compliment. Too often in comics and film, things are too bright, too clean. Here however they look faded and used. Now usually I’d say this is the colourist, but Saiz partly does this himself, and I can see why. He doesn’t use light to brighten parts of his panels, instead he uses shadows and the effect is tremendous. The easiest example can give is of Vader, instead of using light (white) to reflect off the helmet, Saiz uses shadow (greys) to create that depth. It is so impactful, and Vader looks the best I have ever seen him. He looks menacing and not comic like at all. This is only the first issue for Saiz, but I can’t wait to see what else he brings us. This is exactly how I like my Star Wars to look!

This is an incredible issue. The story will have you relooking at The Empire Strikes Back differently as well as really thinking about the turmoil within Luke. And make no mistake, this is Luke’s story. Soule goes to incredible lengths to convey Luke’s emotions immediately after the big reveal and really getting inside the character’s head. That, coupled with the incredible artwork of Saiz, brings one of the best first issues I’ve read in quite some time. If you are wondering whether to take the plunge, whether the hype is everything you’re reading about, the answer is yes. This is a great time to get involved in Star Wars comics and Soule and Saiz are the pair to show you exactly why. If this is what we can expect from the rest of Star Wars comics from Marvel then this year, the anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, then we are going to have one amazing ride…

Availability;

Star Wars (2020) #1 is the start of an ongoing series available from Marvel. This issue is available via the Marvel App and all good comic bookstores. This issue retails at $4.99.

Mark 'Spooked Hippie' Alders
Mark’s day job is a primary school teacher, where in his classroom you will find life size cut outs of Darth Vader and Chewbacca, trying his best to educate the youth of today in the ways of the force.