Leia goes back to Alderaan and finds a dark secret she may not have wanted to uncover! Is it good?
Star Wars #9 (Dark Horse Comics)
In High School I read Shadows of the Empire, a Star Wars novel that takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It’d be an understatement to say it blew me away, largely because it tied the two films together, but also because it allowed me to read more stories about the characters I loved from the films. Lo and behold, Dark Horse got writer Brian Wood to do his own story, this time taking place between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. What kind of stories can he weave into the massive story that is Star Wars?
It has been two issues since I’ve read this series, with #6 completely underwhelming me. I guess I needed a break, because this issue ends up being a nice ride with a great balance between all the characters. Issue #6 didn’t do that very well, which was one of my main complaints I had, but there’s also some interesting ties to A New Hope that will tantalize any Star Wars fan.
The issue opens with Leia who’s decided to peruse the ruins of Alderaan. A derelict destroyer from the Clone Wars era hails her and she decides to check it out. First off, I want to give Brian Wood props for thinking up this little side quest. From my understanding, once Alderaan blew up Leia never really went back or talked much about it beyond the obvious painful memory. To have her go to the ruins — floating rocks basically — gives Wood the ability to touch on her emotions and relationship with the planet. Of course, the person on the ship that hails her has a dark secret which is complex and interesting. I won’t ruin it here, but Wood has set up an intriguing character for Leia to interact with. The first eight pages are devoted to Leia and her adventure.
The issue quickly cuts between Han Solo and Chewie getting chased by Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles who are on a mission to slip a bug on the Imperial communications systems. While the book opens on a quiet and slightly brooding Leia story, the remaining characters get fast paced and action packed things to do. The balance works, mostly because what Leia learns is so shocking the action will take you by surprise.
It looks like Wood and artist Ryan Kelly took a page from The Fifth Element too. To escape Boba Fett, they decide to fly downwards through streams of traffic as Bruce Willis did in the science fiction film. Kelly does an okay job with these sequences — it’s clear what’s happening — but his choice of layout makes the Millenium Falcon look boring and stiff.
Kelly’s style works for the heavy dialogue sequences perfectly though, which is probably why he was chosen to work with Wood.
The book also closes incredibly well with a solitary moment for Darth Vader, as he says something that’ll make you jump for joy. I think we all remember Vader asking Skywalker to join the Dark Side in Return of the Jedi, and here it seems Vader might have ideas to get rid of the Emperor this early in the game. It’s a cool idea that adds a layer to the drama of Vader and the Emperor. Maybe Vader was already thinking about getting rid of him this early, which is interesting and makes the the dynamic that much more complex.
- Darth Vader drops a bomb that’ll get people excited
- Leia going back to Alderaan is fascinating
- Some boring layouts here and there
What a surprise this issue was, particularly because I fell out of love with the series. I adored the first three issues, but it slowly lost touch with me. This issue brings some tantalizing character dynamics to the forefront, but also teases us with some rather interesting reveals as well. The art by Kelly is serviceable to great throughout and it appears Wood has an impressive amount of tidbits for us in the coming issues.
Is It Good?
Yes. I’m back on board! Let’s get some!
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