Now that I’m back from my unannounced birthday vacation (sorry about that!), it’s finally time to wrap up my now more than month long Star Wars extravaganza by finally talking about the main Star Wars series around which all of the other comics that I’ve talked about in the last few weeks are based. I had wanted to save this for last since it not only ties all of those stories together but is a longer, more encompassing story which gives readers an idea of where Mavel and Disney are taking Star Wars and how they’re changing that iconic history. For the most part, the development is subtle without vast, sweeping changes to canon. For those not aware (a number that I’m guessing is relatively low in Graphic Reviews’ readership), the immense Star Wars Extended Universe of graphic novels, books and other assorted media has been declared no longer canon. It’s hard to blame Disney in that since the EU had become a complicated web around which it would be rather difficult to work. Without that in place, Marvel and Disney can set the stage themselves for the current trilogy that began with The Force Awakens. This is the aim of the new Star Wars series which began in 2015 and is still ongoing, with five volumes (28 issues) released so far and another volume (bringing it up to 30 issues) planned for later this year. It’s written primarily by Jason Aaron (with Kieron Gillen providing some of the Darth Vader series crossover material) and illustrated by a team including John Cassaday, Stuart Immonen, Mike Deodato, Salvador Larroca, Leinil Francis Yu and Jorge Molina. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, this series will get you caught up on the state of the galaxy between the original trilogy films.
The first volume of the series, Skywalker Strikes, opens with Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca and the ever-present droids C-3PO and R2D2 working with the rest of the Rebel Alliance to combat the Empire’s forces after the destruction of the first Death Star. While the loss of the Death Star was a major blow to the Empire, it wasn’t a killing one. The Empire is reaching out to Far Rim gangs and crimelords to recover and once again regain control, with Darth Vader both acting as the Emperor’s fist and also determinedly searching for the young pilot who got away from him in the destruction of the Death Star. During the course of the series, Leia and Han focus on aiding the Rebellion in attempting to eliminate Darth Vader whenever possible and destroy strategic Imperial targets as their resources allow. Meanwhile, Luke struggles to understand his role as the last remaining Jedi with the little training that Obi-Wan was able to provide. This is no easy task and Luke repeatedly runs into more than he can handle as he tracks down any clues left by Obi-Wan or the other Jedi. Some of the volumes cross over with the other series, particularly (as you might guess) with the Darth Vader series so reading both gives you a broader picture of the events that occur between the events of A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. Plus, we get more of 000 and BT-1!
As a series, the main Star Wars story arcs provide both a lot of action and a lot of information. The Rebels tumble from one mess to another, often narrowly avoiding disaster and often getting lots of people killed. It’s frankly a miracle they had enough people to actually maintain an effective rebellion. While the arc that follows Han and Leia is both entertaining and interesting (particularly with the addition of a female smuggler with a rather intriguing connection to Han), it’s really the Luke storyline that makes this a series worth reading. I actually really enjoy Jason Aaron’s writing and he does a very good job capturing the struggle Luke faces, a struggle that the movies seem to gloss over for the most part. While you see Luke struggle a bit in the movies, he’s been given a rather Herculean task and the series does a much better job showing how little Obi-Wan prepared Luke for it. One does not just magically become a Jedi, completely gifted in the use of the lightsaber and the Force. Luke is woefully under trained and his struggle to understand and learn everything that he needs to in order to take on the mantle of the Last of the Jedi makes him a much more interesting character than he had been previously. Overall, I was impressed with the character development and fleshing out of the events that take place between the movies. It captures much of the feel of the original trilogy while also expanding fan knowledge in an interesting way. The art was unfortunately less impressive. I’m a fan of Larocca’s work in general but overall it’s just alright. Nothing amazing and mostly nothing terrible, just generally unremarkable.
If you’re a Star Wars fan (much as I’ve said with the other Star Wars series that Marvel and Disney have put out), I’d definitely recommend picking this series up. The series does an excellent job of developing characters that didn’t get as much limelight and were occasionally less than interesting. It even gives Boba Fett some action! The ways in which it expands on the original trilogy and explains some of the events that happen off-screen really helps to flesh out the galaxy in general and made me want to go back and watch the original trilogy and then Force Awakens again. It’s a job very well done by Aaron et al and one I very much enjoyed reading!