Star Wars has been in the news a lot since the October 30th announcement of Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. Talk has primarily focused on the future of the films, such as the question of whether original players like Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill will return for Episodes VII-IX, and the recent announcement of J.J. Abrams as Episode VII’s director, but let’s not forget about Star Wars in other media.
In the wake of the acquisition, it was also announced that Camp Disney bunkmate Marvel, the original publisher of Star Wars comics from 1977 to 1986, would reacquire publication of Star Wars comics in 2015. Current publisher, Dark Horse, which has held the rights since 1991, will produce books for the remainder of 2013 before handing it over. That being the case, it looks like Dark Horse wants to end their 22-year run on a high note.
Starting from the beginning is in these days. The New 52. Marvel NOW! Why not Star Wars #1? And we’re not talking about random tales from the Star Wars universe about Rodian #3 at the back table of the Mos Eisley Cantina. No. In their new ongoing series, Dark Horse is putting Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie back in the spotlight, chronicling the events taking place just months after the Battle of Yavin (or after A New Hope to those of you playing the home game). The Death Star is destroyed, the Rebel Alliance has a huge victory under their belt, and the Empire has a black eye, but what about the repercussions? If you jump ahead to The Empire Strikes Back, the Rebels are freezing their butts off on Hoth and Darth Vader has a ginormous Super Star Destroyer under his command. Was Hoth the next planet on RA’s itinerary? Was The Executor a consolation prize from the Emperor? Not so much. Writer Brian Wood has started filling in the gaps with a story of loss, intrigue, and retribution with Star Wars #1.
Two months after the Death Star’s destruction, we find Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Wedge Antilles on a scouting mission to Dominus III with the goal of finding a suitable, yet remote planet on which to set up a new Rebel base away from the prying eyes of the Empire. Sounds like business as usual, but while on said mission, Luke and Leia share their thoughts on all that has been lost, despite the recent victory. The death of Luke’s aunt, uncle, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Destruction of Alderaan, and all the sacrifices at Yavin weigh heavily upon the still inexperienced Luke, but strengthen the resolve of the ever-stoic Leia. Following a surprise ambush by a Star Destroyer, Leia is shot down and crashes on the planet’s surface alongside a pursuing TIE fighter. Both ships are damaged but Leia gets the upper hand and promptly dispatches her pursuer. It’s a surprising moment, to say the least. With absolutely no dialogue, artist Carlos D’Anda depicts a swift, ruthless action from woman who is seen by many around her as just another politician. After the trio’s return to the Rebel Fleet, one flight deck officer even mutters a comment about how the princess will “never be one of us”, prompting a scathing response from Luke, stating “She’s better. Tougher.” While we, the fans, have seen Leia take out Stormtroopers left and right, it’s very interesting to get a glimpse of her through the eyes of the background characters who see her as nothing more than political royalty.
On the other end of the galaxy, Darth Vader is getting bitched out by The Emperor. You read that right. Brian Wood doesn’t want you to forget that Darth Vader, the most imposing figure in the galaxy, still screwed up at Yavin, and can get scolded by his boss. The word failure is used quite liberally by The Emperor, and even though Carlos D’Anda is restricted by Vader’s iconic mask, you can still see how pissed off the Dark Lord is. Humiliated and relieved of his Star Destoyer command, Vader is dispatched on an undisclosed mission, still plagued by the knowledge that a boy named Skywalker is responsible for this whole mess.
But the intrigue doesn’t end there. To cap off this first issue, Leia is tasked with her own clandestine mission. Leia and Alliance leader Mon Mothma see the swift Imperial ambush at Dominus III as an indication that that there may be a spy in their midst, so the Princess is given command of a handpicked team, insulated from the Alliance command, in order to safely locate a new base site, free from the fear of an information leak. It is yet another thought-provoking scene by Wood. Mon Mothma herself, the face of the virtuous Rebel Alliance, has chosen to engage in black ops, a move that “reeks of the worst of the Empire….Desperate times, I suppose.” With this particular task before, Leia begins assembling her team. The issue ends with her standing in the doorway of Luke’s quarters, clad in a flight suit, ready to get to work.
Star Wars #1 is taking us back to that galaxy far, far away, even before Disney can. The best part? It’s familiar, yet new. Brian Wood appears to have a good handle on these iconic characters, depicting them as the familiar heroes we’ve all grown to love, but also exploring new sides of them to remind us that they are still human. Carlos D’Anda’s art provides that element of grit that went hand-in-hand with the original Star Wars trilogy, a time when X-Wings were a little beat up and Rebel officers had mustaches! Every Star Wars fan should pick up a copy of this fantastic book and give Dark Horse the support they need to finish their Star Wars run with a bang!
As of January 25th, Star Wars #1 has sold out of it’s first two printings even before #2 has hit the shelves. If you haven’t already picked up a copy, you’ll have to wait until February 27th for the third printing!