Last week, Star Wars fans experienced history in the making. After a hiatus of over twenty years, Star Wars has returned to Marvel Comics. Writer Jason Aaron and artist John Cassaday are the first from the Marvel team to dive into that galaxy far, far away, and with Star Wars #1, they’re going back to the basics. According to Aaron, he and Cassaday created this series with the idea that they were being hired to write the “direct sequel” to Star Wars: A New Hope. Indeed, Aaron says that the story takes place days or weeks after the destruction of the Death Star. It’s should come as no surprise, then, that the result feels so much like A New Hope.
Star Wars #1 is classic Star Wars in every way. Within the first few pages, Han, Luke, and Leia are off on another daring adventure, hoping to successfully blow something up…again. This time it’s a weapons factory on Cymoon 1, a moon (or perhaps a planet) in the Corellian Industrial Cluster (Corellia! Wonder if Han’s more distant past will catch up to him a bit in this series). Everything is all hunky-dory for our hunk-of-junk crew, until trouble strikes: Vader lands on Cymoon 1, and the Millennium Falcon won’t start. Left without an immediate getaway plan, the rebels are forced to improvise, while Luke determines to confront the Sith Lord responsible for the murders of his mentor and the Jedi.
I think there are two basic things that made this issue work for me: the art and the dialogue. Aaron and Cassaday have managed to capture each of the original trilogy characters that we know and love masterfully well. Luke is especially amazing and proactive in this first installment. He is able to sense the presence of slaves in the factory through the Force and slice off the hand of their guard with his lightsaber, and he insists on taking the slaves with them on board the Falcon to safety (if they can get to the Falcon, that is). He has grown a little bit since the beginning of A New Hope, but he hasn’t lost his impulsiveness just yet. There’s one particular panel near the very end of the issue where Luke looks exactly like the innocent farmboy that he really is, despite the whirlwind of life-changing events he’s been through recently. His decision to confront Vader is exactly the choice I would have expected this Luke to make, this naive and brash Luke who hasn’t learned how to think like a Jedi or even a rebel soldier just yet. This is where he hears Ben Kenobi’s voice (in a dialogue I found kinda of funny, honestly), telling Luke to run away from Vader, knowing he can’t win. But we’ll have to wait until next month to find out whether or not Luke will heed that advice.
Han and Leia were very well done, too. One noteworthy point: I was a bit surprised, and in retrospect rather pleased that the two of them weren’t constantly bantering. They even had a brief moment in which Leia was completely serious and actually thanking Han for coming with the rebels on their important mission, despite the risk to his life and the 50,000-credit price placed on his head by Jabba the Hutt. I feel like Leia is the sort of person who is only really sarcastic when she feels she’s being provoked or threatened. Han tends to bring that out in her, but when she has a thought or a question that she wants to follow, she’ll follow it and won’t let herself be distracted by Han’s snappy remarks. I like that George Lucas created (and that Aaron and Cassaday are cultivating) that persona for her: one of a strong politician and fearless leader, not a spoiled princess who’s in over her head.
Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2 also made appearances in this issue, to grand effect. 3PO, especially, was really at the top of his game as comic relief. His interactions with Han are reminiscent of their exchanges in The Empire Strikes Back, I thought. With Chewie playing sniper while R2 and the Big Three are working on blowing up the weapons factory, it’s up to 3PO to get the Falcon up and running for their escape. We’ll see if he does in a few weeks.
I mentioned the art. Now, I am in no way, shape, or form a familiar comics reader. I’m mostly a Garfield and Peanuts person, with a little Tin Tin thrown in on occasion. So I can’t say if the art of Star Wars #1 is any better or worse than any other Star Wars comics that have been done in the past. But it works for me. The original characters look like themselves, everything and everyone (old and new characters, both) are easy to identify, and the panels flow pretty well. I found the experience of reading this comic to be pleasant and flowing.
I am definitely open to reading what Marvel has in store for Star Wars, in this series and beyond! For this first installment, I’m giving an 8 out of 10.
Star Wars #1 is now available digitally and in-store. Star Wars #2 will be released on February 4th, 2015.