Deep in the recesses of time constraints and plot holes live bountiful stories. It’s how so much fan-fiction can be written every single day and it’s why the Star Wars universe has brandished hundreds of novels (and more soon), video game stories, and comics. To me, these pockets are opportunities for writers to fill in gaps, further, reveal characters for who they are, and offer lost adventures. Charles Soule and Jesus Saiz are doing that and more with their reboot of the main Star Wars comic series, and in the third issue, we go back to Cloud City only days after Han Solo was frozen in carbonite. Sounds like a bad plan, eh?
This new series takes place after Empire Strikes Back, Lando is one of the main characters, and Luke is having major doubts after finding out his father is Darth Vader. This issue plays around with two things very well, one of which is a surprise right off the bat. You’ve seen countless nerds argue it, but when the Death Star was destroyed many people died and a lot of them were probably innocent. In the opening scene of this comic, Soule offers us revenge for the Death Star explosion in the form of a Star Destroyer with a history and a commander who has personal reasons to want Leia and the Rebellion dead in the most painful way possible. This is a good example of the extended universe being able to flesh out something we don’t really see in the movies. The bad guys are pure evil, but what if they weren’t? Or at the very least, what if they had loved ones lost by the “good guys” in the Rebellion? It’s an interesting setup that I’m curious to see develop as the series goes on.
The other excellent element is Lando’s return to Cloud City and how well connected he is being back in his element. I won’t spoil it, but the man is resourceful and it’s fun to see him pull strings and make his way around. He may seem like he’s all talk, but the guy knows how to prepare for anything. Added to this Cloud City return is Luke and Leia coming to grips with the things they lost and the pain they endured. Soule and Saiz are capitalizing on the still very fresh wounds, and it’s interesting to see the characters interact with this pain in such a human way.
Saiz continues to draw these characters nearly photorealistic but with a little of his own style thrown in so it’s not quite the uncanny valley feel we’ve seen in past runs. Arif Prianto colors the book and captures the color palette of all the familiar scenes and the coldness of the Empire in their scenes. This issue is filled with full-page splashes that’ll have you rock back in your seat and take the extra time to take it all in. That includes a wicked cliffhanger, a moment of impossible doubt for Luke, and a double-page layout offering an entire third of the book to Leia, Lando, and Luke that’s deeply impactful. This book doesn’t work without us believing these characters are grieving and dealing with stuff and Saiz sells it. Hard.
I never knew I’d love seeing our heroes explore and interact with Cloud City so much, but then again I never considered that creators like Saiz and Soule were capable of capturing the true grit of these characters’ souls. This is a Star Wars comic that understands these characters so well.