This is the future. After all the announcements, after Dark Horse’s INCREDIBLE legacy on Star Wars comics, after all the hype of welcoming Star Wars home, and after the ridiculous (RIDICULOUS) number of variants produced we are here. The age of canon comics has begun (officially although we got a great taste of things to come with Son of Dathomir.) Is Star Wars home?
With regard to Dark Horse I personally feel the mark of great Star Wars comics began with them. They were the first to branch out in new directions. They were the first to elevate the license. They were the first to explore new areas in the timeline. Dark Horse’s contributions to Star Wars Legends will never die. From Dark Empire to Legacy they showed us how vast the galaxy far, far away really was and the infinite possibilities of storytelling within. Marvel has a high bar to live up to indeed.
Marvel came out guns blazing. Marvel announced launch parties, like 10,000 variant covers, writers and artists of great renown, and everything else they could throw at us. I looked at it all. I saw the covers, the promises, the preview pages, and all the articles and I waited. The covers were anywhere from mediocre to amazing. The Quesada, Alex Ross, and Pichelli covers in particular struck me as beautiful works of art. The preview Cassaday pages looked to really capture not only the characters in a very recognizable way but also the cinematic feel of Star Wars. All of this looked great but still I waited.
I waited because of one thing. The most important thing in not only the Star Wars universe but in any medium like this. Story. As the first canon comic what would the story hold? Would it break new ground like so many Dark Horse series’ before? Would it stand shoulder to shoulder with everything else from the story group (A New Dawn, Tarkin, Son of Dathomir?)
I picked up my copy, opened it up, and dove in. As I said before Cassaday’s art is amazing throughout. The character’s have lots of expression that feels like them without reusing those same expressions we’ve seen a jillion times on novel covers, lunchboxes, graphic novels, and cardbacks. You know what I mean. That one photo of Luke on the sail barge holding his lightsaber that is the basis for countless artist’s renderings. It’s a fantastic photo that has been the cornerstone of some fantastic art but it’s good to step into new territory.
The story begins sometime after A New Hope (Episode IV) and our heroes are infiltrating an Imperial weapons factory in disguise. The writing feels very true to the characters and the dialogue flows in a very Star Wars way. Even the expository dialogue doesn’t seem forced. It definitely feels like seeing our heroes in another familiar situation. There’s a plan, they have disguises, (which looks like they’ll be saving for Lando in Episode VI) and they’re surrounded and outnumbered. It all feels familiar without being a rehash.
I was surprised to see Luke communicating with Ben. Definitely was not expecting that and I thought twice about it as with our canon experience Ben only speaks to Luke at very important moments or to impart very important messages. He speaks to Luke in the Death Star trench, tells him to visit Dagobah, and says hi at the big Endor party. Although I would say that this experience definitely qualifies as important enough for Ben to speak up it was just a bit unexpected.
We seem to be at a point where after the Death Star debacle the Alliance is going on the offensive and trying to keep the Empire off balance and in disarray. I like the feel and the idea of that and I hope that these actions help the Alliance gain some notoriety that leads to their expansion that we see culminate to them “Massing at Sollust.”
We see lots of familiar faces written very true to the characters we know and love. Darth Vader even makes an appearance. I’ve read a lot of comic, novels, short stories and I’ve seen the “Big Three” written sometimes very well and sometimes not so much. I’ve read enough so that in this comic I appreciate the work that Jason Aaron must have done to get these characters to feel right.
So with that I have to say thank you Marvel.
While this is the first issue and it’s hard to judge a story arc that clearly isn’t finished this comic has lived up to the name of Star Wars. The writing and art combine to make us believe that we’re seeing new stories of familiar characters. This is just the beginning but it’s started with a bang. I’m curious to where this fits in the timeline with relation to Heir to the Jedi but I suppose that will reveal itself soon enough.
This is the future.