– Spoiler Review –
Luke finds himself wading into cults and Leia’s drive becomes a little more clear in Star Wars issue #40, but the art hinders the experience.
Luke has been on a curious path ever since his somewhat darker moment in the previous issue, when he comes to realize the stakes for those left on Jedha. This week, he’s stuck watching Benthic doing what he does best, murdering his way to solve their problems, something Luke only puts up with because it’s getting results and he doesn’t want more innocents, aka non-Imperials, hurt in the process. Chulco, the side character who had been on the path to joining the Guardians of the Whills before, you know, the whole temple was blown to pieces, has his own struggles with the Force and manages to convince Luke to join him on a journey to open their understanding of it. Luke wants to be a Jedi of course, mainly to avenge those that Darth Vader has murdered, and decides to tag along to meet the Cult of the Central Isopter to see what he can learn. The Legends of Luke Skywalker shows a very open and understanding Luke absorbing other takes on the Force (post-Return of the Jedi), but something tells me this CULT might not be what he needs/wants/or absorbs. Besides the word cult being in their name, as I’ve pointed out already, other pointers they might not be the guidance Luke needs right now is they believe Luke and Chulco are to join them in the Shadow of Death, which they mention while bathed in the eerie red glow of the destroyed planet (could it all be red kybers, a special circumstance due to the Death Star blast?), wearing creepy robes/masks, and try to divert Luke’s realization the Force doesn’t feel so right here. I’ve not grown too attached or interested in Chulco, but otherwise this should be an interesting test for the young, burgeoning Jedi Luke.
In probably one of the best moments for this entire series in quite a while, we get a peek into Leia’s mind this issue where she reveals a key moment which pushes her forward despite everything that has happened, including the destruction of Alderaan. Leia being dead-set on defeating the Empire and continuing the mission, regardless of what tragedy has befallen her, has been a defining characteristic for her since A New Hope, and issue #40 dives a little more into that in a flashback to Rogue One: it’s Bail Organa giving her the mission to take the Death Star plans to Obi-Wan, a scene hinted at in the film, and his words about his trust in her have morphed from just regarding said mission to it becoming a galvanizing call whenever she stumbles from the mission. It’s a great scene and important for the character, something this series hasn’t dug too much into for quite some time. I understand Leia’s problem with Luke going off on his vision quest, but as far as they are aware at this moment, they’ve all but won so I’m also curious why she’s so mad at him here, knowing his growing abilities as a Jedi could potentially help their fight in the long run.
Queen Trios continues to intrigue, as she seems to be playing Imperial Commander Kanchar, but to what end and why remains to be seen. Does she plan on taking the kyber for herself and her world, to help break the yoke the Empire has them under, or is she trying to improve her station in the Empire? Or something else entirely? Kanchar has been a decent break of pace from the two extremes of Imperials, the incompetent officers and those kill-happy like Vader, but Trios remains ever the more interesting aspect to the other part of this arc. Kieron Gillen has done a solid job in offering a change of pace and story for the series so far, and it remains to be seen where he’s taking these characters and how much the events within impact them for the following arcs, but he’s not let me down yet. What was an uncharacteristic moment for Luke has turned into something more interesting, while the intrigue on all sides and murky motivations lend this a bit of heavier air than Jason Aaron’s lighter action/adventure version of the series.
And now some thoughts on the art. There are three clearly different faces used to trace ONE character, three panels in a row; in the amazing flashback to Rogue One where Bail Organa gives Leia her marching orders, neither character actually seems to be looking at one another, their traced expressions gazing off at blank space. Together, these moments (and many other little ones) ruin my enjoyment of this story. I’ve never been a fan of tracing (though I didn’t mind it in a few, minor flashback sequences in the Vader series), but it never felt/looked this bad before and now Salvador Larroca has taken it off the deep end. I don’t know what needs to happen here, short of taking him off the series pronto, to prevent this from happening. As I’ve discussed before, in my review of issue #38, who is to blame? The folks at Marvel for wanting this series out at least twice a month, forcing Larroca to adapt to the schedule and trace to meet it? For Larroca to trace in the first place, regardless of the schedule? He was my favorite artist after the terrific work on Darth Vader, but now he needs to given a break, and if he returns, make it a series where he won’t have to trace to meet any set schedule. This is all so unfortunate because what made him great is evident here, from the gorgeous hulk of a monster ship that is Trios’ Leviathan and that creepy final shot of the Cult beckoning Luke, and now it’s tainted.
Here are a few other things:
- Minor error, but still a surprising one: the main cover lists Aaron, aka Jason Aaron, as the writer for the issue, even though it’s Kieron Gillen and he’s correctly credited inside. You can see the error above.
- Han got a few funny little lines, from sweet talking the Falcon to his joke about no ceremony for their victory, but he’s gotten the short end of the stick so far this arc. However, in an interview over at Marvel’s website, Gillen reveals Han’s time is coming in the later half of the arc.
“The Ashes of Jedha” promise some weird and intriguing things are ahead, while Leia’s Rogue One flashback is a great character moment in issue #40.
+ Leia’s important flashback
+ Luke and the Very Creepy Cult
– The art is breaking my enjoyment
Kieron Gillen — Ashes of Jedha: #38 | #39 | #41 | #42 | #43 / Arc Review by Chris | Mutiny at Mon Cala (#44-49)
Jason Aaron — Skywalker Strikes (#1-6) | Old Ben’s Journals | Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (#8-12) | Rebel Jail (#16-19) | The Last Flight of the Harbinger (#21-25) | Yoda’s Secret War (#26-30) | Out Among the Stars (#33-37)
CURRENT SERIES COMIC REVIEWS:
Aphra (#1-6) | And the Enormous Profit (#9-13) | Remastered (#14-19) | Annual: #1
Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith
The Chosen One (#1-6) | The Dying Light (#7-10) | The Rule of Five (#11-12) | Burning Seas (#13-18)
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13) | Legend Lost (#14 – 16) | War Stories (#17-19) | Legend Found(#20-25) | Annual: #1