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‘Star Wars Vol. 7: The Ashes of Jedha’ review: Clear character arcs for Han, Luke, and Leia

A must-read for Star Wars fans who want to soak up the details of these characters.

It has been less than a month since “The Ashes of Jedha” wrapped up, but here we are reading the trade paperback version in comic shops this week. Marvel is collecting these books almost as fast as we can read them! I gave this a look see to give the series a read through from cover to cover to answer the question: is it good?

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

The possibility-and destruction-of the Death Star has changed everything. The Death Star’s destruction proves the Empire is not irresistible. But a Death Star has been built, and it can’t happen again. The specter of the Empire’s true power has brought together a patchwork cloth of people, united in hope. From the desolation of Jedha to the search for new bases, these rebels continue to fight for a better tomorrow for a galaxy far, far away in these all-new adventure written by Kieron Gillen (DARTH VADER, DOCTOR APHRA).

Why does this matter?

Collecting Star Wars #38 to #43, this story focuses on Luke, Leia, Han, and the rest taking on a mission that takes place on Jedha. I know what you’re thinking: “But wasn’t Jedha destroyed?” Based on this story it’s barely hanging on, looking more like a crescent moon than a planet. It’s an important story since it’s in canon and not only reveals characters we know from Rogue One, but advances Luke’s story in becoming a Jedi.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Familiar faces.
Kieron Gillen takes over with this story arc and he does a great job capturing the voice of the characters. Han, Leia, and even Luke (who is still wet behind the ears) are all well written with good dialogue. It’s clear Gillen has a purpose for each character and a personal journey for them to go on, be it Han losing the criminal schtick and becoming a general, or Luke attempting to learn more about the Force. Leia gains important experience dealing with those in power and a key scene featuring her stepfather Bail Prestor Organa reminds us Leia’s life was forever changed in a moment and she wasn’t even aware of it until the war with the Rebellion was underway.

Gillen also fleshes out the Force in an interesting way with this volume, revealing a cult-like group who are tied to the Force but are not Sith or Jedi. Knowing the journey Luke goes on, you get the impression this story affects Luke in a meaningful way that will have influence later down the line.

Gillen seems to take Rebellion losses very seriously, with characters reflecting on those who died to win the war. This is an interesting element of the story since so often in movies the soldiers die and the main heroes don’t even bat an eyelash. It’s a reminder they are truly at war, even if they’re technically terrorists, and real losses are taken so as to stop the Empire. That adds weight to the story.

The art by Salvador Larroca is marvelous when it comes to ships and backgrounds. Aliens like Edrio look fantastic too and when the action ramps up your heart will be racing just like in the movies.

Luke has a bit of a spiritual journey in this story.

It can’t be perfect can it?

While it’s cool to see characters like Edrio “Two Tubes” pop up (who was featured prominently in Rogue One) it’s still somewhat unnecessary and seems to be an element to forcibly tie into the films rather than serve a good purpose. Admittedly that’s going to be part of selling prequel comics like this since fans want to see it, but Edrio and other Rogue One tie-in elements ring a bit false when they do show up.

A common issue with this series is Larocca’s art, which can at times look flat and stiff. Faces are photorealistic for the most part, but then there is the errant panel that’ll throw that completely off. It’s clear when there is no photo reference that will fit Larroca can’t quite nail the faces, or at least can’t do it in a way that’s realistic enough, and it can look painfully awkward and strange.

Is It Good?

I liked this adventure for what Gillen does with the characters. He handles them respectfully in a way that shows he has clear plans for developing them, strengthening our understanding of their choices in later films. That makes the book a must-read for Star Wars fans who want to soak up the details of these characters.

Star Wars Vol. 7: The Ashes of Jedha
Is it good?
A good story, especially if you like character work.
Gillen has clear character arcs for each character
Fun to see Rogue One references by the core heroes
The art is spectacular when it comes to ships, aliens and environments
Larroca isn't consistent enough with faces which can be jarring and underwhelming
The Rogue One references can be so forced it's made obvious this is a means to tie things together rather than tell an organic story

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