Despite having been an ardent fan and follower of Dark Horse’s run on the space opera’s comic series, Marvel delivers a fantastic one-two-knockout blow by not only keeping the series old school with the setting and characters from the Original Trilogy, but by also bringing out their big guns.
Written by Jason Aaron (Wolverine and the X-Men, The Incredible Hulk) and drawn—oh, so beautifully—by John Cassaday (Planetary, Astonishing X-Men), Marvel’s made it very clear that Star Wars is indeed the prodigal son and shall receive a pretty large portion of the talent pie in the House of Ideas.
Being set between Episodes 4 and 5, there really are no spoilers to be given. I mean, it’s not like I could tell you that Han Solo dies or something. However, the issue fantastically delivers on the missions of the Rebel crew aboard the Millennium Falcon following the destruction of the Death Star. (I’m not sure if the terms A.B.Y. and B.B.Y. are canon anymore.)
What truly stands out is Cassaday’s art. Although I’ve been a big fan of him since his run on Astonishing X-Men, I’ve found Cassaday to be wildly inconsistent on other titles. With his own brand of realism in depiction and action of characters, his pencils tend to walk the line of cinematic and visually dry. However, much like his art in the aforementioned X-Men series, Cassaday’s talents are put to brilliant use with a script that celebrates its cinematic origins.
And, truth be told, not enough can be said on how action, especially lightsaber action, is portrayed in the panels. Unlike the flashy, quick-step moves seen in the Prequel Trilogy (and fantastically reflected in Dark Horse’s run on the title) this new series focuses on the measured and precise fighting forms seen in the original movies. Lightsabers are drawn only when needed and the two times they are activated it is with reverence to the classical nature of the weapons.
While I could continue singing the praises of John Cassaday, an equal amount of credit must go to Jason Aaron as well. His understanding of each character and their mannerisms is so perfect that it is by no means a stretch to imagine the voices of the actors while reading the issue. I’m also incredibly pleased that there was no attempt to shoehorn the respiratory sounds of Vader’s breathing apparatus into the text as it would have just made the panels seem cluttered. Some things are better left to the imagination.
If there is anything negative to be said about the series, it would be that it being set in the middle of Episodes 4 and 5 does a disservice to the emotional stakes of the conflict. Regardless of who the Rebels are confronted by, or what challenges they may face, we know that they’re all gonna be alive and well and freezing their asses off on Hoth come Empire Strikes Back.
Regardless, of this shortcoming, my desire to be finally given a canonical tale describing the events between movies has me hooked to this series and I cannot wait for the upcoming Darth Vader and Leia series set to be released in February and March, respectively.