The second arc of Star Wars from Dark Horse Comics comes to a close this month, wrapping up the Rebels’ adventure on the planet Arrochar. Leia’s nuptials are interrupted by Imperial wedding crashers, Han, Luke, and company spring into action, and Darth Vader himself, still under house arrest, is overseeing the operation. We’ve been putzing around on this planet like it was an HBO drama for a while now, so it’s about time it felt like Star Wars again.
From his luxurious penthouse on Coruscant, the Dark Lord directs what he expects to be the final obliteration of the Rebel Alliance, going so far as to order a bombardment of the entire planet to ensure the job is done. Meanwhile, In the aftermath of a bomb that tore through the Arrochar palace at the end of the previous issue, Leia and Mon Mothma find themselves under attack by the royal guard. Pinned down yet determined to save the Princess, Han and Chewbacca throw caution to the wind and storm the palace. But this is Princess Lea Organa we’re talking about; she brings a blaster to her own wedding. She’s got this. Keeping the action going, Wedge has taken to the skies with the rest of Rogue squadron while Prince Kaspar gets an earful from his General advisor about Arrochar’s future with the Empire. With a well-timed appearance by Luke and a surprise move from Mon Mothma, the Rebels live to fight another day, closing this chapter in the ongoing struggle against the Empire.
Writer Brian Wood kept the action to a minimum throughout this arc, choosing to focus on the characters as they all struggled with the future they were facing. As the conclusion loomed, everything went to hell, prompting everyone to put aside their angst and remember that they are soldiers of the Rebellion, not pushovers. This is most evident at the moment when Leia and Mon Mothma have a squad of guards pounding on their door, it is remarked that the bride-to-be was packing a blaster at her wedding, and Leia’s glib reply is, “Aren’t you glad I did?” The events of this issue snap the characters right back to where they need to be – getting Leia into battle mode, putting Wedge back in his X-Wing, and seeing Han shooting first, second, and as many times as it takes to plow through the bad guys. Elsewhere, though, the bad guys remain pretty consistent, and that’s not a bad thing. Like a parent making sure their kid doesn’t sneak out the window, the Emperor is over Vader’s shoulder the whole time, reminding his minion who is still in charge. It’s a chilling blend of ruthlessness and tension as Vader orders what is essentially genocide, and Palpatine lobs backhanded compliments.
With every character in play and a good amount of action occurring, artists Stéphane Créty and Julien Hugonnard-Bert take advantage of the broad canvas that is issue #18. Standout moments include Luke’s dramatic entrance with his lightsaber ablaze, as well as the climactic firefight between the Rebel and Imperial fleets in orbit above Arrochar. Action has always been Crety’s strong point in this series, but his style seems to fall flat with his portrayal of Darth Vader. Instead of the imposing figure we’ve come to expect, he appears spindly and oddly proportioned. It’s distracting, but not to point where it detracts from the story. With Vader being setup to have a greater role in future issues, I’m curious to see if the artist team changes once again when the third (and likely final) arc of this series begins next month.
Star Wars #18 brings a fairly uninteresting arc to an enjoyable close. The story of Leia’s impending marriage, at times, felt like it could have been a rehash of the novel, “The Courtship of Princess Leia”, but thankfully, Brian Wood kept it in unfamiliar territory, and continues to demonstrate an intimate knowledge of how these characters think and act.
Star Wars #18 is available today from Dark Horse Comics!