Note: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars #4.
After three high-octane issues in a row, Marvel’s flagship Star Wars series finally takes a breather in issue #4, part four of “Skywalker Strikes.” If this was an issue of The Avengers, they’d all be sitting around the table eating Chinese food, taking jabs at each other. Alas, there is little food in the canonized Star Wars universe other than blue milk and weird fruits, so we just get to check in on Vader and the Big Three as they get themselves together for the next mission. It’s a pretty chill issue, but there was some entertaining moments and intriguing subtleties that keep this series’ momentum moving forward.
The story alternates between Leia’s quest to reunite with her pals Han, Luke, and Chewie for another mission and Vader’s dealings with Jabba. Leia reveals that Mon Mothma is in fact Chancellor Mothma, which provides an interesting insight into the Rebel Alliance. They must truly see themselves as their own separate entity from the Empire to go so far as to elect their own leader under a title unused since before the Clone Wars. This means Star Wars Rebels has some interesting storytelling to do before we get to the New Hope era, though it’s quite possible they’ll avoid getting into any politics. Leia tries to get a stubborn Luke Skywalker to come out for another mission, but, discouraged and frustrated by his tedious and repetitive training (likely the only kind of training he knew of), he lashes out at Leia, just like the whiny Luke we love to hate. This is one of Jason Aaron’s best traits as a writer on this series: he knows A New Hope, but most importantly, he knows how to transition these characters into their more dynamic Empire Strikes Back forms.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this issue was the handling of Darth Vader and Jabba the Hutt. John Cassaday can draw some pretty convincing Mark Hamills and Carrie Fishers, but when it comes to characters of the more fantastical variety, like Vader and Jabba, they end up looking stubby and awkward. Vader looks like a moldy mushroom (just look at the cover art) and Jabba just looks eerily buggy. Artwork aside, Vader’s visit itself is a little questionable; is this supposed to be the same visit to Jabba’s palace that occurred in the inaugural issue of Darth Vader, or does Vader just make a lot of visits to his hometown hero? I mean, this was the guy who watched Vader, as a young slave, compete for his freedom in a podrace. Later, he’d go on to save Jabba’s son during the Clone Wars. Maybe he has an unspoken fondness for the Hutt, but I worry that this is a glaring continuity issue; now, I’m not a huge continuity stickler, and hopefully someone will correct me in the comments, but, even if this isn’t a continuity hiccup, I think Jason Aaron can do something more creative that repeating the epic Vader/Jabba showdown of Gillen’s Darth Vader #1. There has to be more gangsters in the galaxy than Jabba.
Luckily, something pretty interesting finally happens at the end of the issue as Luke sets his course for Tatooine. In the new canon (I know, I know, I sound like a canon Nazi, but the the Lucasfilm Story Group’s concept of “one story,” as described at Celebration, really intrigues me), Tatooine takes a more mystical role than it did in prior stories. When I thought of Tatooine in the Expanded Universe, I thought of bounty hunters and sand people, but now I think of that crazy wizard Old Ben and the repressed memories of Vader’s childhood slavery. Tatooine has come to symbolize the secrets of the Jedi, and I hope it continues to do so as Luke seeks answers in Ben’s hut. Knowing there’s a Ben Kenobi flashback story coming up in issue #8 is more than enough to validate my excitement.
Overall, this was a decent issue. The main Star Wars series works best as a fast-paced adventure with smaller but deeper characters moments, but it was nice to see our characters breathe. There was more maiming, which seems to be Jason Aaron’s favorite Star Wars trope, and Darth Vader threatened Salacious Crumb. That alone would be enough to win me over, but I do worry about the direction of this series; it doesn’t seem as unified with the others as it did in the first three issues. Let’s just hope this “one big story” doesn’t fall too far off the rails too soon.
3 out of 5 stars
Another note: if some of the images seem cut off, it’s because Marvel seems to have uploaded this issue slightly lopsided when it was digitized for their online store.Powered by Sidelines