The Star Wars comic book publishing license returns to Marvel next year, but until that happens, Dark Horse is showing no signs of slowing down as they continue to leave their mark on the franchise. With ongoing titles such as “Dark Times”, “Legacy”, and, of course, “Star Wars” continuing to entertain fans, the publisher has no qualms about throwing a 4-issue mini into the mix, especially when it focuses on one of the most popular characters in Star Wars lore.
Star Wars: Rebel Heist sports an introduction that immediately screams “Training Day” as it describes the Rebel Alliance’s process of recruiting fresh meat and pairing them with experienced operatives for some on-the-job training, regardless of the threat level. That brief description is all we get, and as it turns out, is all we need, as the reader is thrust right into an unknown mission alongside a green recruit by the name of Jan. Like him, the reader has no idea what the mission is or who his contact will be, and with no omniscient narrator or parallel storyline cutaways to fill in the gaps, you are as in the dark as Jan.
What follows is a wild, unpredictable series of events that seem random and unfortunate, but still manage to convey a sense that “it’s all part of the plan.” What that plan is, however, has yet to be seen. All we do know is that Han Solo is at the center of it. As a four-issue mini-series, this story might not come together until the very end, perpetuating the idea that the narrator and the reader are just along for the ride.
Writer Matt Kindt, in addition to keeping many details hidden, creates a new character in the form of Jan, who is allowed to view Han Solo, the Rebel hero and idol to an entire generation of young boys, in a unique way. We, the fans, know the dashing scoundrel as the badass of the galaxy, but here we have someone who has only heard the heroic stories told in cantinas and has a very specific idea already in his head. As the story plays out, Jan comments on how the erratic and reckless behavior exhibited by Solo might be the actions of a man who cares not if he lives or dies, not a man out to help topple the Empire. We know the truth, but these unique observations cannot help but make you think twice.
Penciller Marco Castiello and inker Dan Parsons do an excellent job of creating the setting where our (mis)adventure begins. We all know the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is Mos Eisley and we have even seen the street level of Coruscant, but Corellia, while a well-known Star Wars world, rarely gets depicted. Castiello and Parsons utilize a gritty, shadowy style that is very appropriate for the alleys and establishments of Corellia’s seedy underbelly. The depiction of Han Solo in this style also helps to further Jan’s idea of uncertainty about the smuggler.
Across the hall at Dark Horse, Brian Wood’s ongoing Star Wars series has told the story of the period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, maintaining the grand, galactic scale of the war between the Alliance and the Empire, and including multiple storylines from both sides. Rebel Heist clearly has a very specific direction and feel, leaving behind the lightsabers and capital ships of the galactic conflict and focusing on the blasters and rust buckets of the undesirables. That being the case, it almost feels like a consolation prize for those of us who were jilted by the cancellation of the LucasArts video game Star Wars 1313. It’s a realm that many fans have loved to explore in the pages of such books as “Scoundrels” and the “Tales of…” series, so getting to run around with Han Solo will always be a welcome treat.
Star Wars: Rebel Heist #1 is available today from Dark Horse Comics!