With only a few weeks from the final installment of the Skywalker saga, it’s hard to contain the excitement. Marvel Comics likely wants you to scratch that itch with their new The Rise of Skywalker tie-in comic series. This series reveals scenes between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, preparing us for the mood and feel of the next film. The question is, however, how important is this series to the movie? We won’t know till the film is out, but likely something in this comic book series ties into the film, making it a must read for anyone who is a Star Wars fanatic. Casual fans, though, may be fine skipping this one.
Written by Ethan Sacks, who did a great job with Galaxy’s Edge, with art by the ever-impressive Luke Ross, it’s quite clear Marvel is putting their best Star Wars creators on this book. This book opens on an alien world of giant insects called Tah’Nuhna who have become a target of the First Order. Hux is leading the charge and he’s very unhappy they’ve allowed a Resistance fighter reprieve even though they’re a neutral planet. In these first few pages, Ross and Sacks do a fantastic job creating a sense of wonderment with the aliens and also a sense of doom as Hux lays down the law. The universe is no safer and the First Order is possibly more dangerous (and reckless) than ever. It’s also made clear the Resistance is weak and needs more ships and weapons to even compete with the First Order.
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Leia is largely the main character in the book as she attempts to get help from the Mon Calamari. Poe and Finn end up doing a side B-plot mission, and Rey ends up being sort of like Leia’s armed guard. It’s a delicate time for the Resistance and it’s pretty clear this segue to the film is building their powers up enough to have a fighting chance in the next film.
Much like many of the Star Wars tie-in comics, especially with the newer characters, this series allows readers to experience Rey, Rose, and all the rest a little bit more. We may not learn new details about them, but we get a good hangout session with them. Conflict strikes on Mon Calamari and we get to see Rey, Rose, and Leia rise up against that conflict. Leia has a strong speech which turns the tide, and Rey continues to show she’s an extremely strong Force user. I can’t say this series hugely reveals where we’re going in the next film, but it is clear the Mon Calamari help in a big way and pay for it. Read this to get a hint at their world’s possible future at the start of the film.
Luke Ross is backed up by color artist Lee Loughridge and the environments and backgrounds look stellar. The opening page revealing Mon Cala is beautiful and so very alien. It’s a reminder this universe is robust and huge in scale. There are also impressive shots of Star Destroyers as well as Stormtrooper outfits. The rendering of character we know and love is quite good, too — it’s never so close that it’s creepy. There is a shot of Kylo Ren that’s incredibly good, from the glow of his lightsaber to the confidence in his face as he slices someone’s head off.
My major gripe with this series is how little Rey is given, likely due to Disney wanting to save that for the next film. As it stands she serves as a guard and not much else. We never probe the character nor learn anything new about her. She’s her usual steadfast self who fights.
Overall I liked this series, but it doesn’t feel completely necessary either. It has enough tethered to the history and ramifications leading to the next film to make this a must-read for any hardcore Star Wars fan. The sense of adventure is strong with this one. Just don’t expect a lot of character development or big reveals.
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