Marvel Comics has more or less excelled at making Star Wars comics since getting the license back. They’ve put some of their best creators on the series, and Charles Soule and Jesus Saiz are the next duo to breathe life into our favorite rebel heroes. The new direction for the series starts us off just after Empire Strikes Back, where Luke found out his father is Darth Vader, Han is gone, and Lando is taking his spot on the crew. This second issue offers a new mission for Lando and Chewie and it involves a particular desert slug mobster to whet your appetite.
It is an exciting time in the characters’ lives, ripe for good Star Wars stories. The Empire is stronger than ever, Luke is filled with self-doubt, and Lando is a new, somewhat unfamiliar character for Leia and Luke to interact with. Chewie is familiar, and Soule doesn’t let us forget it as he seems to sneer at Lando any chance he gets. This issue is really Lando’s story at its core, which is fine by me considering Soule’s best work was on his Lando miniseries.
It’s also interesting to see how Soule and Saiz have carved out a pocket to tell this story. Luke, for instance, doesn’t have his mechanical hand yet, even though we saw him get it at the end of the film. That puts this scene somewhere between him holding up his new hand at the end of Empire and being rescued in Cloud City. Luke is going through a lot and Saiz captures that inner turmoil very well via his facial expressions.
This is a turning point for Luke, but also the Rebellion. Leia gets a key scene to rally the troops, which allows Soule to offer up the main conceit of the mission the characters will be undertaking. Lando is particularly interesting, too, since this is a turning point for him as he has a choice between being a scoundrel or being a hero. It’s interesting to see how he might be wavering on this point and may need a shove in the right direction to join the Rebellion.
Comics like this are always a fun way to rethink films. Seeing Jabba the Hutt interact with characters you know, but never knowing it happened, adds new meaning to the interactions we see in Return of the Jedi. It’s a nice reminder a story like Star Wars can become richer thanks to the comics.
Saiz’s art is fantastic, as he proved with his space story with Doctor Strange over the last year. His work is clean and expressive when it comes to character, and sharp and photorealistic when it comes to ships. I also love some of the creature design — he created (or at least I think he did) a flat mushroom looking creature Lando speaks to at one point. Colors by Arif Prianto add extra volume to the characters’ skin and their clothes. This further distinguishes it as an adaptation of the films. I do wish for a bit more detail in backgrounds, which can be rather flat and uninteresting. The space in the meeting room Leia gives a speech is rather dull and it’s hard to gather a feel of the space.
Another minor gripe I had was the heavy-handed way Lando drops a mission on Luke. Star Wars die-hards are going to love where the story is going, but it seems tacked on especially since Lando’s head probably would still be on all those promises he made to Jabba.
This is a good second issue that sets in motion a few plots to keep your eyes on going forward. Soule has a great handle on the character voices and Saiz backs him up with visuals that stand up to the films.