I like to think it’s good to be Brian Wood. Not only do you get to mess around in the Star Wars Universe, but with limited time to play in that particular sandbox, you’re able to go for broke, not worry about filler, and tell some pretty great stories.
Star Wars #19 kicks off what is likely to be the final arc of this series, so what better way to go out than to bring together the four main heroes that we followed from the desert of Tatooine to the forest of Endor in the original trilogy. When deep cover Rebel operative Seren Song finds herself on the run from one of the galaxy’s greatest bounty hunters (it’s not Fett, calm down), she reaches out to childhood friend, Princess Leia, and the Alliance for help. After the debacle that was the Arrochar incident in the last arc, it is agreed upon by the Alliance top brass that resources cannot be devoted to recovering one soldier. Instead, Han, Luke, and Chewie get recruited. After all, when it comes to rescue missions, these guys are old pros. As it turns out, Song is pretty resourceful, staying one step ahead of her pursuer, which also means she’s one step ahead of her rescuers as well, making things a little difficult for Leia and the boys. With no leads and a bounty hunter on their tail, our intrepid Rebel heroes have their work cut out for them next month.
It’s a slow start, but you can’t have all the fun right out of the gate. Wood looks to be pacing this particular story out, and with a more focused arc, he can afford to do so. So far, much of what Wood has written for this series (with the exception of the two-issue Vader mini-arc) has taken place across multiple storylines, following characters in different locations as they gradually converge. This time around, we have only two major plotlines to follow: Seren and the Rebel quartet. There is no cutting away after three or four pages, so the more relaxed pace is more evident. However, that is not to say you won’t find the action you’ve come to expect. The centerpiece spectacle involves a fast-paced skirmish between the Millennium Falcon and the IG-2000 high above Lotho Minor, so don’t think you’re left hanging. Speaking of which, having the droid bounty hunter IG-88 show up on Lotho Minor, a junkyard planet, to many Star Wars fans, may evoke memories of Dash Rendar’s encounter with him in Shadows of the Empire. Now the music’s in your head…
Issue #19 also sees the return of original series artist Carlos D’Anda, following a six-month absence. His sharp, yet gritty style always maintains the “lived-in” look that gives the Star Wars Universe its character. Combined with Gabe Eltaeb’s color, moments like a Y-Wing blasting off through a pile of trash into a twilight sky is a feast for the eyes, and since this issue is rife with character moments, D’Anda gives our beloved Rebel heroes plenty of beautifully expressive face time. As a bonus, D’Anda even includes the famous four-shot in the Falcon cockpit from A New Hope, swapping out Ben Kenobi for Leia. It’s a brilliant throwback that solidifies the idea that the band is back together.
Star Wars’ time at Dark Horse continues to count down, and the gap between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back gets filled in a little bit more each month, but will Brian Wood manage to get us to Hoth in the little time he has left? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Star Wars #19 is available today from Dark Horse Comics!