By: Brian Wood (Writer), Carlos D’Anda (Artist), Gabe Eltaeb (Colorist)
The Story: Luke gets a little bit rebellious with one of his comrades; Leia tries to uncover the identity of the spy while Han Solo gets into a trap set by the empire.
The Review: There are several things that can be frustrating in comics featuring a whole universe: some concepts that are too conceited or too much used, some characters that don’t have enough screen time and a whole load of other problems. This issue here has a very particular problem that does not fatally undermine the whole thing, yet becomes a bit handicapping: there are some parts and characters that are much more interesting than others.
Now, this may seem normal, even obvious to most, but there is a difference when it is a ‘’universe’’ book. In a team book, it’s pretty much normal that some people prefer some characters above others, but in a ‘’universe’’ style book, the writer has to show a whole world through his story and his characters, to make everything interesting and relevant to the plot. Here, we have two plots, with one being about Leia commanding her own squadron and trying to uncover a traitor amongst their midst, while the other one features Han Solo being his regular self as he tries to get some work on Coruscant. It is the latter one that is more interesting and actually better written, as the adventure of the charming rogue is actually more fulfilling for a reader.
The reasons for this are actually fairly simple. On Leia’s side of the equation, we get several new characters that were introduced in a short manner that are part of her squad, while it tries to juggle with Wedge, Leia, Luke and those other characters. There are too many characters here, some that are still not properly explained or worked out just yet. Wood tries to do something with some of them, Prithi being the most preeminent example, yet the others have close to no screen time beside being in the background or having a single line throughout the whole issue. He does try to do some stuff with Leia and Luke, but it is a bit slow-moving.
On the other side, Han Solo’s adventures of his own has only two characters you need to care and think about: Han Solo himself and Chewbacca. With plenty of action, some neat twist and the character usual quirk and charm bring his tale to a certainly interesting cliff-hanger. Of course, his tale is somewhat less ambitious than Leia’s, as hers is focused on space combat with a certain espionage twist, while his is a little bit more action-focused with some rogues element here and there, but his story advances at a faster and more satisfying pace.
Still, the thing as a whole is still a compelling package, with the bits about the empire here and there moving at its own pace like the others. The book acting like a chessboard, we can see each pieces moving to their designated places as I am sure each plot shall cross together neatly (Luke, Leia and Han are on the same planet in the second movie, after all). Despite some little trouble with the load of new characters introduced, the general plot does not suffer too much from their lack of interactions.
What does not make the book suffer, but rather shine, would be Carlos D’Anda and his respect for the whole design work of the Star Wars saga. The amount of details he put in the ships, armors, guns and other items taken directly from the beloved movie is astounding, as any fan would be delighted to see those things look so good on the pages. His character work is also nothing to laugh at, as the faces of each character are fully expressive, never stuck on a single expression. They are believable and never exaggerated, which is quite difficult to do. What is also quite difficult to do is a proper color job, something that Gabe Eltaeb seems to be able to pull in this issue. While most of the backgrounds are nothing too special, it is the rest that is quite well-done, like the lasers, explosions and some of the more subtle effects, like the air-traffic in the windows found in Han Solo’s scene.
The Conclusion: While not every subplot are as interesting as the others, we are still treated to a great Star Wars comic thanks to the respect Brian Wood has to the universe with his ideas and the lovely art by Carlos D’Anda.
Hugo Robberts Larivière