A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
Crisis! The Rebel Alliance has been scattered about the cosmos in the wake of the Battle of Hoth. As Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 traveled to the planet Dagobah so Luke could continue his training as a Jedi Knight under the exiled Jedi Master Yoda, his allies Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, Chewbacca and C-3PO made their way to the planet Bespin. There they sought shelter in Cloud City – a barony that had been taken over by Han’s old ally, Lando Calrissian.
Unfortunately, the bounty hunter Boba Fett tracked them there and notified the Empire, allowing the Sith Lord Darth Vader to intercept them. Intent on laying a trap for Luke Skywalker, Vader took command of Cloud City over Lando’s objections. Sensing that his friends were in danger, Luke cut his training short to confront Lord Vader, only to lose his hand and his lightsaber in a duel. Luke also learned a horrifying truth; Darth Vader was his father, Anakin Skywalker!
Now, Han Solo has been frozen in carbonite and taken by Boba Fett. Cloud City has fallen under Imperial control, despite Lando’s best efforts to help his people evacuate before the Empire moved in. And Luke Skywalker’s confidence has been dealt a blow even more painful than the loss of his hand.
Lando is ready to offer his help, but neither Leia nor Chewbacca trust him further than Chewbacca could throw his limbs after ripping them off. Worse yet, the bulk of the Rebel fleet they are meant to rendezvous with has been ambushed by Commander Zahra – an ambitious Imperial officer keen to prove herself in the wake of the destruction of the Death Star. Their only hope may lie in the Millennium Falcon and some fancy flying, but can our heroes put their differences aside long enough to save what remains of the Rebellion?
The chief problem with Marvel’s Star Wars comics in the past lay in selling the drama. We all know the final fate of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and the rest of the heroes of the original trilogy, so there’s little suspense when they are placed in danger or Luke questions whether or not he is truly meant to be a Jedi as he does in this issue. It’s no wonder then that the most successful books in this line have been those based around original characters like Doctor Aphra or those which were based around answering questions from the original films that never got explored in detail on-screen.
Charles Soule takes the latter tact in this issue, focusing upon one of the bigger questions from The Empire Strikes Back; how did Lando win the trust of the Rebellion and earn the rank of General in less than a year after he sold out Leia and Han to the Empire? While a quick answer isn’t provided, the interactions between Leia, Chewie and Lando in this issue make it clear that his presence on-board the Falcon is barely being tolerated and the only thing saving him from being thrown into the vacuum of space is that Leia won’t spare the time to do it given that her people are in danger. This provides an honest tension and level of interest that wouldn’t be there if the focus were purely placed on the space battles.
Mind you, the space battle sequences are well-plotted and Jesus Saiz does a fantastic job of drawing them and detailing all the various vehicles. The artwork does suffer in one regard; some of the art based on the characters from the movies seems to be more focused on replicating photo reference than providing an original look. This results in some panels where the expressions don’t quite match the dialogue.
Thankfully, these moments are few and far between. Generally the artwork is excellent and the finishes provided by Saiz and Arif Prianto leave everything looking fantastic. While unlikely to win-over anyone who isn’t already a die-hard Star Wars fan, this first issue will please fans of the original trilogy and everyone who has enjoyed Marvel’s Star Wars comics since they regained the license in 2015.