It all started innocently enough with a drunken question …
Though less photo-realistic and painterly than previous artist John Cassaday, Immonen is much more of a traditional comic book artist, eschewing strict realism for more representative & kinetic action and layouts. He also has a particular knack for using body language and facial expressions to express characterization, showing readers visually what a given character is feeling at a given time just by the look on their face or the way they’re standing. It’s a skill he puts to good use here, making vivid Luke’s aw-shucks naivete as he stumbles his way through a Nar Shaddaa bar fight, Han’s combination of chagrin and frustration at Sana’s continued instance that he’s A. up to no good and B. her husband, and the transition of Leia’s reaction to Sana from wry amusement to righteous fury as the woman proves to be no easy pushover.
The series kicks off well, using as its starting point an opportunity for characterization left unexplored by the film. After all, in A New Hope, we see Leia consoling Luke over the death of Ben Kenobi, a man he’s known for all of a few days, while the massive grief she herself must be feeling at the time over the destruction of her entire planet, including her family, goes unspoken. With the Death Star destroyed and the Rebellion victorious (for now), Waid and Dodson kick off their story by exploring how Leia is dealing with the aftermath of her homeworld being obliterated before her eyes.
Following the series’ initial, action-packed story arc, Jason Aaron and John Cassaday settle in for a relatively quiet fourth issue. This is a breath-taking issue, a chance for the creators to focus on characterization and set some plots in motion. To wit, there’s Luke Skywalker, dealing with the reality of his (non)status as a Jedi following his confrontation with Darth Vader in the first arc
With this issue, Jason Aaron and John Cassaday wrap up the inaugural story of Marvel’s new Star Wars series, an action-orientated finale finds the Rebels fleeing from the surging fury of Darth Vader aboard their purloined AT-AT walker, desperate to reach the Millennium Falcon, as Luke does his best to ensure their mission wasn’t for naught. As a single issue, it’s all a bit rushed (particularly in the subplot with Threepio losing control of the Falcon to a group of scavengers, which added a nice bit of tension to last issue but doesn’t really payoff much here), but it’s to the larger story’s benefit that it only runs three issues. Overall, there’s not much plot here (Rebel mission goes south in part 1, they try to escape in issue 2, they escape in issue #3), but thankfully it doesn’t get stretched out any further than three issues.
While the Disney overlords are keeping a clench fists over anything bearing the Star Wars name, this is about the closest they’ve gotten to a bona fide risk. Though restricted to a simple miniseries, one of the first flagship titles Marvel is churning out is a solo book starting the franchise’s leading female character. The book delves into Leia’s character and her place within the Rebel Alliance. Mark Waid does a fantastic job conveying subtlety through her actions and words, Terry and Rachel Dodson give a new spin to the look of Star Wars, and it all leads up to one of the most satisfying first issues in ages.
For obvious reasons, both the original Marvel series and Dark Horse’s various Star Wars titles generally tended to shy away from direct confrontations between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Such encounters were the province of the films, and even after the cinematic saga had (seemingly) ended, there was, presumably, a desire to not water down their existing interactions too much by writing in a ton of off screen battles. Both characters were staples of the Expanded Universe, but rarely interacted with one another directly.
It’s a bittersweet affair when one reads a Star Wars comic these days. Disney recently decided not to keep Star Wars at Dark Horse where it’s been since 1991 and instead is shipping it off to Marvel (which Disney owns) starting in 2015. This makes sense for Disney from a financial standpoint but not necessarily from a comics one.