This review of Star Wars #43 contains minor spoilers.
Don’t consider this the beginning of the end for Marvel’s flagship Star Wars monthly. See #43 for what it really is: The end of the beginning.
Kieron Gillen wraps his six-issue arc, The Ashes of Jedha, in a chaotically good manner, tying up some loose ends, throwing readers for an outright loop and planting the seeds not just for the next adventure, but an addition to the Original Trilogy Saga motif.
The story has some high points, notably Queen Trios’ calculated and cunning reveal that she’s a rebel at heart, volunteering her support, both moral and materiel. Yet some elements of the wider tale, notably the dialogue, seem clipped and out of place, trying to ape some of the subtle humor of the Original Trilogy, but falling flat and seemingly out of place, given the serious timbre of this story.
That’s not to say it’s not a solidly satisfying conclusion, given how it posits Han Solo as the leader he’s to become and offering up a formidable lesson on why it’s better to keep trying and not dying. One standout part of this story is Gillen’s writing of C-3PO. His dialogue in this comic is spot on and a return to form for the protocol droid, providing some of his best appearances in recent issues.
The art maintains a steady flow, with Salvador Larroca’s vistas expansive and lush and the kineticism shines, particularly in the pitched battle between Luke Skywalker and Commander Kanchar. Though, it must be noted, Larroca’s mimicking of lead characters’ faces from the films is unsettling and, frankly, unwarranted, given his abilities are strong and there’s no real need to make them so photo realistic.
It’s a divisive issue, with some in the Star Wars echo chamber baying for blood. The truth is, his art is fine but there’s no real need for him to focus so much on the facial work as it takes readers out of the story. I’d prefer if he just drew them as he does the background characters.
Still, Larroca’s work is magnificent on some pages and augmented nicely by the colors work of Guru-eFX. One page, in particularly, is bathed in red hues with Solo and Partisan Ubin in silhouette. It’s powerful to see and striking in its context and tone.
I’d be remiss in not mentioning the lettering by VC’s Clayton Cowles, too. His work is solid and provides the needed emphasize on the dialogue, enhancing the overall tone of the story, particularly as the characters lay the groundwork for the next stage in the Rebels’ efforts.
And that’s what this issue does so well, with its conclusion. It seems that for so long the stories in Star Wars have seen the Rebels on the run, outgunned and moving on fumes. This ending is not so much that, but a beginning, something the final page so stirringly posits. It has me excited about going forward into the next arc. It gives me hope.
Star Wars #43 is in comic shops now, selling for $3.99, and on Comixology.
(For more detail and discussion, tune in to the next episode of Comics With Kenobi.)