The word heist is a simple synonym for a robbery. Yet the word heist bears connotations of a specific type of caper – one involving an inordinate degree of planning and no small amount of daring-do while working against a cunning foe. The idea of a heist story set in the Star Wars universe is an intriguing one. Indeed, fan favorite author Timothy Zahn wrote such a story in his recent novel Scoundrels, which depicted Han Solo as Danny Ocean, putting together a team of specialists to go after a gangster’s ill-gotten gains.
Alas, Star Wars fans looking for a tale of similar quality will find nothing but disappointment in Star Wars: Rebel Heist #1. There is no heist to be found in this story by any definition of the word. Instead, we are given a soldier of fortune named Jan, who wishes to join The Rebel Alliance – not out of any idealism but because it is better than being one of the faceless hordes. We learn little of our POV character, save that he has six months of fleet experience and he is a massive Han Solo fanboy.
As luck would have it, Han Solo is the contact who was sent to recruit him. And as Han’s usual bad luck would have it, their cover is blown before the rookie even walks into the bar they were meant to meet at. What follows is an extended chase, as the hapless newbie tries to figure out if Han Solo is a master strategist, a brilliant improviser pretending to be a genius tactician, or just the most lucky son of a nerf-herder in the galaxy.
Matt Kindt’s script is heavy on humor and in-jokes for Star Wars enthusiasts. At one point, just before things go south, Jan notes that he has “a good feeling about this“. There’s a nice little sight-gag about the dancers employed by the bar where Jan and Han are supposed to meet and how not all species find humanoid dancers attractive. There’s a truly funny sequence in which Jan assumes the piece-of-crap spaceship Han is tooling around in is the Millennium Falcon just because it looks like a cheap piece of crap. And in a scene sure to please many a fan of the original, unedited films… Han shoots first.
Unfortunately, some of the humor and the action will seem repetitive even to those who have only watched the movies. For instance, Kindt repeats the tired gag where Han attempts to turn the tables on his captors only to find the enemy’s reinforcements at his back. And if I never read another Star Wars story where the hyper-drive malfunctions at an inopportune moment, it will be too soon.
The artwork is a similarly mixed bag. The splash pages are generally excellent and our first glimpse of Han Solo is a good one. But the individual panels seem rushed and cluttered, with the pencils becoming sloppy during the action sequences and Han Solo’s distinctive likeness being lost in a few panels.
Overall, there’s little reason for any but the most die-hard of Star Wars fans to pick up this book. Caper-story enthusiasts will be disappointed by the lack of an actual heist or any indication of a heist to come in later issues. And comic fans will be turned off by the mediocre artwork and dry plot.