“YOU KILLED MY FATHER.”
“I’VE KILLED VERY MANY FATHERS. YOU WILL HAVE TO BE MORE SPECIFIC.”
Note: The following review goes into detail about the volume. SPOILER ALERT!
When Disney decided to make the old Expanded Universe non-canon, many fans were understandably upset. However, this meant we were going to get a new, rebooted era of Star Wars comic books, novels and video games, better known as the New Canon. This reboot serves as a great jumping-on point for Star Wars fans like me, who found the old EU large, confusing and hard to start.
So every 25 days I will be reviewing another entry in the New Canon, starting with the first volume of both Marvel’s Star Wars and Darth Vader. Why every 25 days? Since it seems like the Star Wars movies have completely monopolized the holiday season for the next several years, it seems festive (you know, 25 days of Christmas?). Plus, I just like the number 25. In an effort to catch up with what I have already read, for the first four entries I will cover two entries at once. Next month, on July 19, I will be reviewing two New Canon novels, Lost Stars and Aftermath. So, without further ado, my review of Marvel’s Star Wars, Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes.
“What kind of an envoy are you?” “The rebellious kind.”
The story of this first volume is very nicely split into two parts. The first three issues detail our favorite rebel team’s assault on the Imperial weapon factory on Cymoon 1. While not particularly enlightening, this first arc really feels like Marvel’s attempt to prove to us that they really understand Star Wars. The story is a relatively generic, action-packed thrill ride, filled with glorious moments like Vader using a team of stormtroopers as a shield as Chewie tries to snipe him, and Han and Leia arguing as they try to pilot a walker in an attempt to escape. All of the iconic Star Wars characters are here, and better yet, they all feel like the classic characters we all love. Luke is naively heroic and desperately wants to be the Jedi, Darth Vader is stoic and ruthless, Han is funny and selfishly selfless; they all feel like they were taken right out of the movies.
Another huge plus was the character interactions. One of the issues expanded universes have (and one of the issues the old EU had) is to overcomplicate the story and to actually hurt our understanding of the original movies. I was initially worried that having Luke and Vader meet in this comic would hurt the effect of their duel in Empire Strikes Back, which was their first true meeting as far as we were aware. But Marvel knew exactly how to approach this interaction, having Vader easily defeat Luke and dismiss him as a naive child, until he is blasted away just as he is realizing that Luke is using Anakin’s old lightsaber. What I really love about this interaction is that instead of hurting our understanding of their duel in Empire, it actually adds to it. Luke’s choice to leave his training on Dagoba to fight Vader on behalf of his friends is all the more powerful knowing that he had tried to fight him before and soundly lost. For Vader, this is the first time he begins to realize that Luke may be more than just a lucky pilot, and begins to understand why Ben was so protective of him. Their short interaction here fleshed out both of their characters in a way that I wasn’t expecting but was very pleased by. It was a great moment in an otherwise action-packed but ultimately pointless adventure, and will lead to a lot more to come in the future comics.
“There’s nothing here for me now. That’s what I said when I left this place. Let’s hope I was wrong.”
The last three issues of this volume weren’t as filled with action, but had a lot of strong character moments and the return of Boba Fett in true style. After successfully destroying the weapons factory and only barely escaping with his life, Luke is more lost than ever. He wants to become a Jedi like Ben and his father, but has no idea how to go about doing that without a teacher. Vader could have defeated him on Cymoon 1 with a single finger, and Luke has no means of making himself better. With no other options, he decides to return to Tatooine and search Ben’s old house to see if it could give him any clues about where to go next. To his surprise, Ben apparently anticipated that he might die and left him a box of journals of his time spent on Tatooine. Also to Luke’s surprise, the bounty hunter Boba Fett is hunting him and finally tracks him down just as Luke is discovering the journals. This leads to an epic fight between a blinded Luke and the fan-favorite bounty hunter that Luke only barely survives. Meanwhile, Han and Leia go on a mission together to scout for a good location for a rebel base, and accidentally run into an Imperial scout along the way. Han leads them to one of his old smuggling dens to escape, and while they awkwardly fight/flirt, a hostile ship suddenly appears. The pilot emerges and reveals herself to be Sana Solo: Han’s wife.
Luke’s trip to Tatooine is the core story of this arc, and while it isn’t particularly exciting, it does a commendable job at fleshing out Luke’s frustration with what to do next to continue his training as a Jedi. The Boba Fett scenes are also a huge plus, as the writers once again prove to have a true understanding for what made fans gravitate to the character. The Han/Leia storyline drags a bit, unfortunately. While their interactions certainly feel like the classic characters, we know exactly where it is going. The Sana Solo revelation is intriguing, but I fear it may just be a gimmick to try to sell more comics. Only time will tell.
“I’ve got a very good feeling about this.”
The art of this first volume is generally excellent, but there are a few noticeable issues. Artist John Cassaday’s art looks great at first glance, and the action is particularly strong, but some of the finer details look… off. The best example of this is the faces of our main heroes, particularly Luke and Han. Luke’s face is strangely inconsistent throughout the volume, sometimes looking exactly like Mark Hamill and other times barely looking human. Han is more consistent, but is oddly textured, with strange shadows often warping his face. The helmets of Darth Vader and the stormtroopers also look off, looking almost like someone crushed their heads just enough to be noticeable. It is worth noting that while these problems never go away completely, the second three issues look noticeably better. Cassaday does a commendable job, but I am not upset that he was unable to continue doing the art for later volumes.
This first volume feels like Marvel’s attempt to prove they have what it takes to make a compelling Star Wars comic, and they most certainly do. While the story isn’t exactly mindblowing, it lays the groundwork for future issues and sets the stage for the excellent Darth Vader comic, while also giving us an exciting and action-packed tale that is sure to at least entertain any Star Wars fan.
Have any suggestions for what I should read next? Which is your favorite ‘Star Wars’ comic? Tweet me (please) @adam_mcconnell. And be sure to follow us @YouNerded.
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