I’m going to just come out and say it. Brian Wood should get a shot at writing at least one of the new Star Wars films due within the next several years. He continues to display not only a respectful knowledge of the Star Wars universe, but also the ability to surprise even the most seasoned fans after 11 issues of the ongoing series from Dark Horse Comics.
Issue #10 left readers biting their nails over how the Rebel fleet would survive an all-out assault from the Devastator while Luke and Wedge were among Col. Bircher’s attack squadron of elite TIE Interceptor pilots. This cliffhanger, along with the ongoing frying pan/fire situation plaguing Han and Chewie and the harrowing responsibilities upon the shoulders of Birra Seah, propels issue #11 forward, and one month closer to the arc’s conclusion.
As all hell breaks loose among the stars, the Rebels scramble to repel the attack, even donning their rugged combat gear. Mon Mothma trades her typical regal robes for a long coat and jumpsuit as she takes up position in the Home One war room. Outside, Luke and Wedge find their options are limited, faced with the choice of either making a beeline for home or turning their guns on the Imperials, either of which will result in a swift demise at the business end of a blaster. Before any choices are made, however, Leia returns home, making a hard landing that would make a BSG Viper pilot jealous. Refusing to be outdone, Luke and Wedge make a break for Home One, performing their own spectacular crash landing in the hangar. With everyone right where they need to be, the X-Wings launch. It’s a spectacular series of rapid-fire events, switching back and forth between different perspectives and building the tension as the fighters draw closer. However, not too long into the conflict, Brian Wood’s impending plot twist rears its head, bringing the attack to a screeching halt and blowing the minds of readers and characters alike.
Elsewhere, garbage hauler Perla directs Han and Chewie to an asteroid belt for refuge following their narrow escape from Boba Fett on Coruscant. The intrepid smugglers strike the deal of a lifetime, salvaging their seemingly failed mission to rearm the Rebels as Perla offers an enormous weapons cache in exchange for asylum. Is it too good to be true? The skeptic in me cannot help but think that the Alliance already has one mole throwing a wrench into the works. Is there room for potentially one more?
Bookending the issue is the tragedy of Birra Seah. Darth Vader’s impromptu apprentice gazes blankly upon the Rebel/Imperial dogfight knowing all too well that her task to detain Luke Skywalker has failed. Seeing only two fates before her, she chooses the course that will only delay her inevitable asphyxiation. As the issue comes to a close, Vader receives news of both Birra’s flight and the aborted attack as he ultimately chooses to end his exile from the battlefield.
Brian Wood’s writing continues to impress as he explores this time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, but it is still only half of the equation as Carlos D’Anda’s art completes the successful pairing. As the attack commences at the start of the issue, we are immediately treated to D’Anda’s own take on a classic naval battle as the Devastator launches its volley of energy at Home One, brilliantly replicating the side-by-side skirmishes one would find at sea. His aptitude for illustrating the action of space battles comes through once again as TIEs streak by and X-Wings execute Corellian Slips, a maneuver quite familiar to fans. And even with little to work with, D’Anda still manages to articulate calm rage through the unchanging helmet of Darth Vader – no easy feat.
As the ominous words “To Be Concluded” splash across the final page of the issue, the excitement level raises in anticipation of issue #12. With an incredible revelation leaving the soldiers of the Rebellion dumbstruck and the Dark Lord of the Sith determined to reenter the fray, there is no way next month’s installment of Star Wars will disappoint.
Star Wars #11 is available today from Dark Horse Comics!