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Jedi News Comic Review: Star Wars #1
Reported by Mark on 09 Jan 2013 12:00

In the Shadow of Yavin: Part One (of THREE)

Despite its victory at the Battle of Yavin - which ended with the destruction of the Galactic Empire's fearsome space station, the Death Star - the fledgling Rebel Alliance is still struggling to find new allies, new sources of supplies, and most importantly, a new location for a permanent base.

In the quest for a new home, three of the Rebellion's greatest heroes have journeyed to the edge of the Outer Rim...

That's your opening 'scroll up' as this new era in Star Wars comics begins with writer Brian Wood, artist Carlos D'Anda, colourist Gabe Eltaeb, letterer Michael Heisler and cover artist Alex Ross at the helm. But how does the new title kick off it's first issue? With action or introspection? It opts for the latter, and it makes for an intriguing start.

Beware, story spoilers ahead.

The Story

In an opening reminiscent of Splinter of the Mind's Eye we join Luke, Leia and Wedge waaay out on the periphery of the Outer Rim in the Dominus sector, searching high and low to find a new location for the secret Rebel base. But that's not all that's going on with our three heroes. Luke is uncertain about his emotions in the aftermath of Yavin. Having learned about the Force and losing his mentor Ben Kenobi in such a short time, as well as his best friend Biggs and his surrogate parents Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, he is lost at sea, and feels for both Leia's loss of Alderaan and Wedge's losses as well.

Leia struggles with the fact that as the most high profile surviving Alderaanian she has become the focal point of Alderaan's survivors grief, and envies Luke and Wedge's simpler losses. But soon they are snapped out of their introspection as an ISD and a wing of TIE Fighters and TIE Interceptors drop out of hyperspace right on top of them and attack, forcing them to the surface of Dominus III where Leia makes an emergency landing, followed by her duelling Interceptor foe, who she despatches with her blaster as he opens his cockpit.

Meanwhile aboard the Rebel vessel Redemption Han and Chewie are about to blast off on a secret mission under orders from Mon Mothma. Solo is as cocky as ever, Chewie as circumspect as you'd expect and we get a brief insight into Solo's mindset as he laughs off Jabba's anger, calling the Hutt a 'backwater gangster'

Back on Dominus III Leia's X-wing is jury rigged and repaired but soon cold start her X-wing as incoming TIE Bombers can be heard. Heading for a polar storm to cover their tracks they lift off, as the narration tells the current state of play in the galaxy, explaining how scared Rebel friendly worlds are after the destruction of Alderaan, despite the destruction of the Death Star.

Luke hears the spirit of Ben, telling him to act on instinct. The three X-wings follow Luke's directions and leap together into hyperspace where they return to the Redemption and Leia is asked to report to Mon Mothma.

Leia meets Mothma, where the leader of the Alliance explains that the Empire are struggling to recruit and build ships just as much as the Alliance and that the ISD that found Luke, Leia and Wedge out in the Dominus sector didn't appear by accident. There Mothma assigns See Threepio to Leia and puts her in command of her own team. Her remit - to find the Rebellion a new home and to find the spy within their ranks.

The Kuat System in the Core. Lord Vader and the Emperor communicate via hologram. The Emperor informs Vader that he is leaving Kuat, to be replaced by a Colonel Bircher. Vader is reprimanded for the Death Star debacle and sent by unmarked ship to a secret location. Palpatine offers Vader the chance of redemption in his eyes and the promise of riches untold.

The final page, back on the Redemption Luke is in his quarters alone. Leia comes in dressed in a black flight suit and looking ready for action.

The Review

A solid start for the new series. Right out of the gate it lays down it's marker of making us look at familiar situations from a new perspective. We've certainly not delved inside the characters heads this much in the comics world before, and the judicious use of narrative boxes allows us to join the characters thoughts, fears and doubts in a smart way. That said, too much introspection could soon wear thin as these characters are in a period of galactic history littered with action, missions and threats. If Woods opts to use even the loose history laid down in previous books and comics (and my guts tell me he is) then we have some familiar waypoints to look forward to, all filtered through this new and novel viewpoint. With the benefit of hindsight and a huge, established chronology, Woods has the chance to both stamp his own unique stories on the timeline and re-examine classic Star Wars stories. For older fans like myself this is a delicious opportunity, and for newer fans who weren't around back when these stories were first told it's a fresh and logical route into the era.

We find Luke in a confused place, and with good reason. He's left his adopted homeworld for the first time, lost his adoptive parents, his best friend and his mentor, all while being thrust into the spotlight after destroying the Death Star. He doesn't know how to be, how to feel, and the impression is that he will throw himself into his new role and work, work, work for the Alliance. But Leia has a whole different weight on her shoulders. She's lost her entire adopted homeworld and everyone she ever knew there, including her adopted parents Bail and Breha Organa. The hopes of all surviving Alderaanians lay on her shoulders, as well as her position as a senator and a leader in the Alliance. She almost envies Luke and Wedge their simpler worries. It's a moment that could come across as selfish, as if her grief is more important than Luke's or Wedges, but it also goes to illustrate how much more mature Leia is at this point of the stories. Her brother has toiled as a moisture farmer for most of his life, while she has been raised a senators daughter in a life of influence and luxury. Two very different people, bound for a shared destiny.

We briefly meet Han and Chewie, leaving the Alliance vessel Redemption and get some typically caustic Solo words and classic Chewie cautiousness. It illustrates in a few short panels just how much Han needed Chewie. The 'rampaging wookiee' tempered Solo's hotheadedness with some logical responses, just enough to take the edge off Solo's rashness. It bodes well for Wood's future interpretations of the smuggling duo.

And Lord Darth Vader. He is seen briefly, in a scene with his master the Emperor. Vader is reprimanded for his failure at Yavin and effectively demoted to a new command, the location of which he (nor us) is told. It's a powerful moment that reinforces the hold and control Palpatine had over Vader, even at this point almost two decades after Revenge of the Sith.

Artist Carlos D'Anda does a solid job, absolutely excelling with his interpretations of vehicles and locations, doing a good job of Solo, Mothma, Luke, Leia and Wedge but falling short with Chewie and Threepio, who both look like their Holiday Special incarnations. But it's early days, and those interpretations can only improve. On the whole the artwork is lush and impressive, the colouring by Gabe Eltaeb is vivid and well chosen and the Alex Ross cover needs to become a poster, ipod cover, t-shirt, you name it - and fast.

So, Star Wars #1 is here and it's set to bring us a dozen amazing adventures every year. I'm on board for the ride. You should be too.

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