Han and Chewie are caught in an ambush, while Luke gets distracted by one of his fellow pilots. What’s Leia to do in this week’s comic, Brian Wood’s Star Wars #3?
Leia’s ability to lead Luke Skywalker hits a snag when another woman gets in the way as we head into Star Wars #3, continuing the ‘In the Shadow of Yavin’ storyline (Darkhorse.com profile). How do you bench a top pilot and friend? Meanwhile, the crew of the Millennium Falcon hits some trouble on their mission on Coruscant. Both action and drama pick up in this issue of the new ongoing Star Wars series by Brian Wood, and the art is given some great places to shine.
Summary: Darth Vader, still being punished by the Emperor for his failure at Yavin, arrives at his new assignment, babysitting a giant construction project at Endor, instead of commanding the fleet to crush the Rebels. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker gets cozy with one of his fellow pilots, Prithi, on a EVA rescue training mission, and takes the long way home. His squadron commander, Leia, is not happy with his late arrival, and dresses him down for not following orders, and takes him off flight status and sends him to the sims, highlighting the difference between a hotshot like him, and a team player like Wedge. Han and Chewbacca are on Coruscant on a mission for Mon Mothma, but Han smells a trap when their contact seems suspect. With stormtroopers blasting away, the two need an exit strategy.
Still miffed about Luke’s behavior, Leia hops into her X-Wing cockpit to blow off some steam with a practice dogfight against Wedge, while the squad watches. Later, she meet clandestinely with Mon Mothma to get more background on Prithi and set the first part of her mole hunt into action. The Rebellion’s leader wonders if the inquiry over the Chalactan pilot is because Prithi’s a distraction to Luke, or that relationship is a distraction to Leia. And not only does the Rebellion have some newly upgraded X-Wings, Colonel Bircher has some newly upgraded TIE Interceptors – and the location of the Rebel Alliance, and it’s go time.
Review: Life as a fighter pilot is not all dogfights, and here is where the series is beginning to pick up pace and shine. Like the pilot-based stories in the X-Wing comics and novels or on Battlestar Galactica, we are starting to see the daily life in the fleet, and getting to know some of the new faces (ok, really just one Prithi face) and tension within a unit when expectations are not met. As in the last issue, Brian Wood gets into Leia’s head a bit more, this time over feeling slighted by Luke’s condescending cockiness when confronting his actions in private. And so she turns to Wedge to boil off her frustration in combat practice.
There still are perhaps too many parts to focus on, Vader at Endor, Han Solo and Chewbacca on Coruscant, Leia, Luke, and Wedge at the fleet, and Colonel Bircher with the Imperial fleet. But this juggling of scenery allows the pace of the comic to flow back and forth from tension to action, and leaves us on a ramp up to some conflict – the Empire is coming, and their new ships may be a match for the X-wing fighters of Leia’s command. While life is outwardly quiet with the Rebels, things get hot for Chewbacca and the Corellian, and we shall see if they decide to do any more Rebel missions after this one has gone bad – if they can get out intact.
I do hope that Vader’s storyline is actually going somewhere soon – he really hasn’t done much except get berated and shuffled off to Endor over the past few issues and we get reminded again of his humiliating assignment, while Bircher gets to give the rousing speech to rally his troops at the end.
There a big pile of cinematic artwork in this issue – we start off with a two-page spread of the second Death Star under construction at Endor, with a Super Star Destroyer guarding it. But I think Carlos D’Anda tops it with a great shot of Leia in her X-wing blasting out of the page. But D’Anda is also great at capturing moods in the characters – we see Leia, angry but under control, when Luke and Prithi finally arrive back at the fleet, and Wedge witness to Luke and Prithi’s closeness, and then Luke and Leia posturing as she disciplines him. We also see Han playing up being a gracious host to their supposed Rebel contact, while Chewie serves up a snarl and a bowcaster. And we get to see something we don’t often get in Star Wars – a refresher (where Han and Chewie retreat when stormtroopers blow their way into their hotel room).
Alex Ross does the cover, which is an interesting mosaic of good guys and bad, almost of ripped away layers of artwork (like taking the concept of the Drew Struzan Star Wars Style D Circus poster one step further)… but Ben Kenobi is a bit of a mislead. But maybe old Obi-wan will make an appearance yet.
Last issue was a bit slow as we got introduced to the new faces, and now that’s over with, we pick up some speed, bringing in some intensity to the character dynamics as well as a good old fashioned firefight. I like it.