Just as the Skywalker Saga ends, Star Wars has finally taken a bold new step in the stories they’re telling. That’s right, the Star Wars ongoing comic has been relaunched, jumping from the time frame between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back to the period immediately following Empire. Isn’t this what you’ve been waiting for? Jokes aside, this relaunch is is a breath of fresh air for Marvel’s Star Wars comics. There was some good stuff in there, especially written by Kieron Gillen and Charles Soule, but for the most part the time period lacked any particularly punchy stories to tell. Now with Charles Soule and Jesús Saiz leading the charge on this new wave of Star Wars comics, it feels like there’s some novelty to the universe again.
The gap between Empire and Jedi is one of the most interesting and untapped periods in all of Star Wars. Luke gets his hand cut off, learns that Darth Vader is his father, and is in the lowest point of his life — and then he comes back with a green lightsaber, some genuine proficiency in the Force, and becomes one of my favorite characters in all of fiction. This issue specifically picks up that thread — Luke’s inner conflict and character arc upon the discovery of his father’s identity — and weaves it into the overarching story of the Rebels fighting against the Empire after one of their most devastating losses.
Soule has an innate handle on all of the characters and the feel of the Star Wars universe; everything that happens feels like it could easily have been in one of the movies. Leia and Lando bickering is such a natural extension of their interactions in Empire that it genuinely feels like Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams delivered the dialogue themselves. Luke’s genuine sense of doubt and lack of confidence in himself is exactly what I was looking for to kick off his journey to Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi.
It’s not just Soule that’s making this comic as enjoyable as it is, however. Saiz is doing an absolutely incredible job on pretty much every page of this comic in the art department. The characters are drawn to feel somewhat photorealistic without hitting that uncanny valley effect that plagued a lot of the prior runs of the Star Wars ongoing. Luke looks like Luke, Leia looks like Leia, Lando looks like Lando, but maybe more importantly, all of them also look like proper comic book characters instead of stills from the movies Photoshopped into a sloppy reference. Saiz adds emotion and depth to their faces in a way that really sells all of the writing. It’s not only the characters that Saiz brings to life, either — maybe the best part of this issue is the massive space battle within. The art is able to wholly sell the scale and scope of this battle, with vivid backgrounds and fast-paced dogfighting action. Saiz in just one issue has really proven he’s the best artist for this book.
Star Wars has always been as popular as it is because of its ability to combine grand space opera with personal character work. Soule and Saiz are both able to do this incredibly well, resulting in a really good first issue to kick off this new era of Star Wars comics. Where the previous run felt like it didn’t have nearly as much content to play around with, this new series feels like there’s a whole galaxy worth of content to explore, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.