– Spoiler Review –
As the final “Ashes of Jedha” fall in issue #43 of Star Wars, Kieron Gillen’s first arc as writer sets high hopes for the more serialized future he’s bringing to the series.
Just when I was beginning to think my inklings of Queen Trios having an ulterior motive weren’t correct, Star Wars #43 proves otherwise. Her confrontation with Leia turns sharply into a negotiation of sorts, as Trios is finally able to make contact with someone to further her efforts in resisting the Empire. She sums up Darth Vader Annual #1 and Vader‘s Shu-Torun Arc to Leia, the comic issues which showed her birth as ruler thanks to Vader’s meddling, and while those ended with her seemingly ready to assist the Empire, I had always hoped the strength of fortitude she showed in those issues would mean she hadn’t fully given in to them. Even if you haven’t read those previous issues, readers of #43 here won’t feel left out as she catches us up and explores the ways she’s found weakness in the Empire…and how to exploit it! It’s great to see someone with so much resources and power come to find themselves allied with the Alliance, especially through Leia, making this a meeting of royalty (and proving the women rule the galaxy), but if she comes to help them and yet they still are down on their luck in The Empire Strikes Back, maybe everything doesn’t go according to plan. Or she’s a double-double agent. Or they’ll seek refuge with her between TESB and Return of the Jedi. Regardless, this has story potential and I hope Kieron Gillen’s more serialized approach allows this thread to continue.
This whole arc has established Commander Kanchar as an effective, odd, and deadly Imperial officer, and while his fight with Luke is short, it cements him as a creep I hope to see in the future. Luke proves he doesn’t need to be a Jedi to win the battle with Kanchar and leaving him alive allows the villain to show up again, but also shows Luke has learned from his little brush with the dark side and shunned Benthic’s ideals. The Star Wars series has been want of a villain who can cause the heroes trouble, be effective about it, and maybe even hand the rebels a defeat, so I’ve got my fingers crossed Kanchar can fulfill the role that SCAR Squad was never able to, though his loss here doesn’t give me tons of hope.
Han’s brush with leadership, after some touching nudging from Chewie last issue, comes into full effect here, as he leads the way to save everyone’s life and complete the mission of driving the massive tanker off the edge of a cliff. In a way, Han basically pulls a Rose in The Last Jedi, as he tells Ubin there’s another way than having her sacrifice herself to complete the mission, though Han’s motives aren’t as romantically inclined as Rose’s. The group needs to keep the bridge secure until the monstrosity drives off the cliff, otherwise the Imperials could hit the brakes, so Han takes Ubin to the Falcon and crashes it into the front of the tanker, getting everyone off just in the nick of time; Fancy flying and good leadership, one thing Han always thought he had and one he didn’t realize he had in him. It’ll be interesting to see how this translates into the issues ahead.
Due to the “Ashes of Jedha” arc only kicking up a notch last issue, languishing through the opening three issues more than necessary, issue #43 wraps things up too quick and neat. The heroes’ smiles and jokes in the final panels don’t feel totally earned, as they didn’t really get into the thrust of the story/action until the very end. However, this arc has changed the heroes in minor, but important ways, and I’ll be watching the next arcs with great interest to see if they pay off those changes, otherwise we’re back where we started with the Jason Aaron era. The art from Salvador Larroca, and colors from Guru-eFX, has definitely held the overall arc back, as the tracing continues unabated, though a little less once again this issue. Everything else looks great, in typical Larroca fashion, but this facial thing will forever make any issue a trouble to read. Clayton Cowles letterering is wonderful as usual, despite a minor error in the first panel.* And thanks to Assistant Editor Heather Antos and Editor Jordan D. White for bringing about the writer change-up for the Star Wars series, as it has already begun to alleviate some of my concerns with the series. There’s still all this Larroca business, but solid move so far!
Here are a few other things:
- As I mentioned in the 2017’s comics year in review, there will be a full arc review now that this one is over. You can expect that soon from Chris!
- Threepio has been silent most of this arc, but we got some good humor from him in this final issue!
- *If you picked up the print edition of this issue, your eyes did not deceive you: the very first panel has an error where Trios’ speech bubble is attributed to Leia. This was fixed for the digital edition, so hopefully it’ll be fixed for the trade paperbacks as well.
- Here’s something to look forward to: In April, the Star Wars series will find the heroes on Mon Cala to help liberate the planet (much like the Republic had to in The Clone Wars) but it’ll be part of a low-key crossover with the Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith series, which takes place shortly after Revenge of the Sith and sees Vader bringing Mon Cala to heel for the Empire. So in Star Wars, we’ll likely be seeing the repercussions of Vader’s actions and potentially even similar characters. Curious to see how this type of crossover works out! Thanks to CoffeeWithKenobi for putting all of April’s solicitations in one, comfy spot.
And with issue #43, the Star Wars series has put its first Gillen-led writer story to bed, as things are beginning to look up again for a series that was having trouble not so long ago.
+ Queen Trios makes a Rebellion pact with Princess Leia
+ Han’s fancy leadership infused flying
– Ending doesn’t feel earned
Kieron Gillen — Ashes of Jedha: #38 | #39 | #40 | #41 | #42 / 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