Continuing “Showdown on the Smugglers Moon”, Star Wars #9 is, essentially, an all-out action issue, advancing both of the story’s two plots incrementally in favor of extended action scenes. The end result is an entertaining issue that nonetheless reads briskly and is somewhat unsatisfying as a result, since not a whole lot of plot advancement or character development happens.
Luke’s storyline, unfolding on the titular moon of Nar Shadda, gets the most forward motion as Luke races after the thief who stole his lightsaber in the previous issue, then runs into the thief’s boss, a massive Hutt with a penchant for Jedi history. Their encounter suggests an interesting opportunity for Luke to learn about his heritage, but if anything, it leaves him further than ever from his stated goal of getting to Coruscant, and thus, deconstructs this plot even further, seemingly drawing it out rather than moving it forward.
The other main plot of the story, involving Han, Leia and Han’s maybe-wife Sana gets even less advancement. The trio basically get off the planet where Han & Leia were hiding as of issues #5 & 8, and that’s about it. Of course, to get off the planet, they have to blast through some Imperials, on the ground and in space, so there’s still plenty of action, but given that Sana first appeared in issue #5 and she, Han and Leia are only now getting off the planet four issues later shows just how slowly this plotline is advancing.
Stuart Immonen continues to shine following his debut in the previous issue, and the all-out action of this issue certainly plays to his strengths. The scenes on Nar Shadda are particularly exciting, as he depicts the action from a variety of different angles, creating a sense of just how sprawling and hodgepodge the city is, while also highlighting both Luke’s determination and lack of experience through nothing more than the art (there’s a moment where Luke does a Force jump to catch up to the thief he’s chasing that’s as surprising to Luke as the thief, and that one scene speaks volumes for where Luke is at as a character at this point). And Aaron continues to display his strong grasp of the characters, particularly in the Han/Leia/Sana scenes (which contain at least one moment of laugh-out-loud humor).
So there’s plenty to enjoy here, even if the focus on action makes the issue a quick read, and fails to advance either plot much. There’s some interesting developments, at least in Luke’s plot, both in terms of the individual he meets on Nar Shadda and in the characters dispatched by the Alliance to help him in the issue-ending cliffhanger, so hopefully the next issue will make up for lost ground and move things along a bit further. The first six issues of this series succeeded, in part, because they didn’t read like a drawn out, waiting-for-the-trade six part storyline, and instead moved from one plot and location to another with ease. Hopefully, this storyline will prove just as nimble and satisfying before its over, and pick up the pacing of the two plots next issue.
This issue is steeped with references to the Prequel Trilogy era, and given that Luke’s overall quest at this point is to learn more about the Jedi, this suggests that perhaps Luke will learn more about the Jedi of old than we ever suspected before. First, there’s Grakkus the Hutt’s droid guards, which he calls relics of the Clone Wars designed to fight Jedi. These are the same type of droids as the MagnaGuards which served as General Grievous’ bodyguards in Revenge of the Sith.
Secondly, Luke learns about Jedi holocrons, the handheld repositories of holographic Jedi lore, first introduced via a comic book series in the old Expanded Universe, but canonized by the Clone Wars animated series.
Finally, Luke encounters a holographic representation of Shaak Ti (the only Jedi depicted in that scene who seemed familiar), who was a member of the Jedi Council in Episodes II and III and is notable for having two different death scenes scripted (and one filmed) in Revenge of the Sith. Originally, she was killed by Grievous aboard his ship early in the movie, and later on, she was supposed to have been killed during Darth Vader’s attack on the Jedi Temple. The former was filmed but ultimately cut (and appears as a deleted scene on the Blu ray set), while the latter never made it to screen (but was referenced in an episode of Clone Wars). Both deaths were ultimately deemed non-canonical, and the character actually turned up alive in the Force Unleashed video game, where she is killed by Darth Vader’s apprentice (the star of the game), though that death, too, has now been rendered non-canonical until proven otherwise.