Here we are, four issues in and “Star Wars” by Dark Horse Comics keeps delivering. More often than not, Star Wars stories (from any publisher) told in panel form were too big. The author attempted an all-encompassing, sweeping epic to compete with the Star Wars tales told on the big screen. Brian Wood has done just the opposite, here. This isn’t a man hunt for Captain Solo. Luke hasn’t found a lost Jedi. Darth Vader isn’t off thinking about Padame. No, this story encompasses all of the regulars in small doses and pulls in some side characters to spin its intricate yarn.
The Death Star has been destroyed, but the Rebels are now on the run from their incredible victory. Leia believes a spy is in their midst as the search for a new base is constantly in jeopardy. Luke, cocky as ever from taking out the Death Star, has been grounded from his pilot duties by Leia. She believes he lacks focus on the matters at hand. Han is off on a secret mission for Mon Mothma. Is he in over his head? Chewbacca thinks so. This issue reveals something may be up with R2-D2, as well.
Wood keeps us guessing and roped in to his story highlighting both new characters and those that we consider family. Mon Mothma, who has been given little character development pre-Return of the Jedi, is just trying to keep everything afloat. The spy could overthrow the entire Rebellion. Her faith in Leia is just, but keeping the other members in the dark about it is her true feat. One mention of it and it could end everything they have fought for.
The highlight in issue four is Darth Vader’s overseeing construction of the second Death Star. The introduction of Birra Seah quickly establishes that fear is not enough and Vader needs to find another way to motivate the Imperial workers-- a strange off-shoot to the story and one that could warrant pages of storytelling. I’m sure that Wood will tell it in a more serious manner, unlike Kevin Smith or Kevin Rubio.
Then, two very small moments set the stage for more storytelling in issues to come. The first arrives in a conversation from Obi-Wan to Luke. It is small, but it opens the door to many other possibilities. Luke quickly becomes grounded as his old mentor gives him a “phone call”. The amount of Boba Fett panel time is also phenomenal. One panel is more than enough to let us know the best and baddest bounty hunter in the galaxy is ever present. Oh, and one last fanboy moment: Chewbacca popping out of the top hatch, firing his cross bow at some TIE Fighters. Brilliant!
The only downside to the whole issue may be the story of Grey Squadron. With so many pilots, many of which drawn (by Carlos D’Anda) with their visors down, it makes it difficult to get any sense of the characters. That is not to say anything against Carlos D’Anda’s art. In fact, whether it be a full page of both R2 and C3PO or an Imperial policemen falling off his speeder bike, the whole book warrants a second glance just for his amazing details. Grey Squadron's part in this tale seems muddled and its characters need better definition.
Some of you may be waiting for the trade paperback. If you do, you are a fool. This is a great slice of original Star Wars storytelling every month. You need to be reading this book if you love that galaxy that is so far, far away.