Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewbacca Continue to Fight the Empire in Marvel’s Comics
Growing up, I was not a comics fan. There was no comics store near where I lived in New Jersey, and until recently there really wasn’t a good one close to where I live now. As such, I only ever picked up a couple of Barbie comics in the mid ‘90s (Yes, there were Barbie comics, which I now wish I still had). I was also never much into the EU. I read a few of the Young Jedi Knights YA books when they were being published, but I never did get into reading all the material in Legends. I just didn’t know where to start, especially with the daunting task of reading all the comics.
When Disney restarted the cannon, and then brought the comics home to Marvel and rebooted them, that changed. Thanks to my day job, I have access to the collected editions. I saw my opportunity to finally give the Star Wars comics a chance. After all, it’s much easier to start at the beginning than it is to jump into a story that’s been going strong for over 30 years.
Volume one, Skywalker Strikes, picks up right after the destruction of the Death Star. Our favorite heroes go on a mission for the Rebellion. When things go wrong, Luke angrily confronts Darth Vader, neither suspecting their true relationship until Vader recognizes his old lightsaber. After escaping, Luke returns home to Tatooine in hopes of learning more about Master Kenobi, but is attacked by a ruthless fan favorite bounty hunter. Meanwhile, Han and Leia are attacked during a search for a new Rebel base location and are forced to travel to a mysterious hide out Han knows of in order to lay low and escape their Imperial pursuers. But the Empire isn’t the only one pursuing them. Someone else knows of Han’s hideout, and she isn’t happy.
This volume is a solid series opener. It brings together all the classic trilogy characters as they begin their journey in the Rebellion together. After the initial mission together, they split up getting parallel storylines that aid in character development. Han and Leia’s storyline shows the early days of their relationship as it begins to evolve while Luke’s shows his struggle to understand the Force and his abilities. It also introduces us to a new character in the mysterious Sana.
Showdown on Smuggler’s Moon
In the second volume, things aren’t going so well for our intrepid heroes. Luke, in his zeal to find out more about the Jedi, has found himself captured and held prisoner by Grakkus the Hutt, a collector of Jedi artifacts. After the revelations of the last volume, Han, Leia, and Han’s estranged alleged wife Sana have agreed to work together to free Luke. Not one to be left out of the fun, Chewie meets up with the others for a daring rescue.
The second volume picks up the threads of the first. It closes the storyline of Luke searching for answers – at least temporarily – sees the team reunited, and answers the question of who Sana really is. We meet new characters in Grakkus, an Imperial Agent, and get the truth about Sana. We also get to go to a planet not seen on screen in Star Wars, Nar Shaddaa. If Mos Eisley is a hive of scum and villainy, than the Smuggler’s Moon is a den of crime and corruption.
Picking up immediately after the events of the Vader Down crossover, Leia and Sana are transporting the rogue archeologist Doctor Aphra to a secret Rebel prison while Han and Luke pick up a few quick credits on a smuggling mission. When the prison is attacked by a sadistic man wanting to teach Leia a lesson, the women team up to save the station’s crew and each other. But whether or not Sana and Leia can trust Aphra is another matter.
This was probably my favorite volume so far. I really liked that the ladies got to be front and center here. It was interesting to see their different warring philosophies on how to handle the situation: Diplomatic Leia, trigger happy Aphra, and distrusting Sana. It also became clear that Aphra and Sana had a romantic history and that it did NOT end well.
The moments with Luke and Han were a cute little adventure. Han gambling and Luke trying his best to cover for Han so Leia doesn’t find just goes to show how fast these two have become friends, and how much they both care about Leia’s opinion. I won’t give away what type of smuggling job they have to take, but it will definitely get a chuckle out of you. And it made me think of a certain Firefly episode.
Story and Art Combine
As a whole, the main storyline of the Marvel comics does well with continuing the story and bridging the gap between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. There is a lot of time to fill in, and the adventures here are helping to paint the larger Star Wars universe. They also aid in character development between the films showing us the relationships of the characters as they evolve to what we see in Empire, and their own individual development.
Jason Aaron also pens The Mighty Thor comics featuring Jane Foster as Thor and Doctor Strange for Marvel. In the past, he also worked on Wolverine. He’s done an excellent job here of capturing Han, Luke, Leia, and C-3PO and creating some new and memorable characters. The plot lines are fun and engaging, and don’t drag on endlessly, but there are a few common threads connecting them like Luke’s continued search for information on the Jedi and Han’s criminal past. I’ve also been reading his Thor comics, and think he was an excellent choice to kick off Marvel’s reboot of the Star Wars comics. He clearly knows his Star Wars.
John Cassaday illustrates volume one, Stuart Immonen is the main illustrator for volume two, and Leinil Francis Yu is the main illustrator for volume three. I’m not quite sure which one I prefer. Depending on the volume, there are times the artist perfectly captured the actor’s expressions. Other times, they do a pretty darn close approximation. Either way, the artwork is always enjoyable. I’ve never seen a Marvel artist I didn’t like the artwork of.
On the whole, if you are a comics fan, or want to get started, I’d recommend picking up a copy of Skywalker Strikes at your local comic book store or library. If it got me hooked on reading Star Wars comics, it just might get you hooked too.