– Spoiler Review –
Another year of the Star Wars comic, another Annual issue to go along with it. Star Wars Annual #3 finds Leia and Han trapped on a snowy planet, searching for Rebel bases, when his smuggling past catches up to him. Written by Jason Latour and art by Michael Walsh, this new creative team spins a delectable Han and Leia yarn straddling the limits of their will-they-won’t-they relationship with aplomb.
In the main storyline of the Star Wars comic, Jason Aaron’s take on Han and Leia’s bickering romance was beginning to overdue it, no matter how good the banter ended up being, so thankfully Jason Latour not only emulates Aaron’s strength with their banter, but he brings something to the table that refreshes their interactions in my eyes. Their arguments resemble the ones out of The Empire Strikes Back over A New Hope here, as they are outright calling each other out on their feelings for one another but still denying said feelings even exist. And despite their reluctance for admittance, and the fights that ensue because of their clashing lifestyles and choices, the best part of Annual #3 is how they work so well together as a team regardless. These two have spent a lot of time together since escaping the Death Star and it shows, as they trust one another and intuitively work together, easily overcoming the threats against them when they do. There’s even a rare moment where Han admits the choices from his past weren’t obviously the best and he can’t keep running away from them anymore. Better yet, Latour ends on a really touching, truthful, earned moment in their friendship/relationship, as Leia attempts to help ease Han’s burden over his past, essentially expresses her feelings for him in the process, and he responds in his typical way that basically expresses his feelings too, but again without actually admitting it. Extra special bonus points for Leia ultimately saving the day.
I really relished antagonist Frax’s motivations, revealed in a zippy, but cohesive flashback mid-issue, and how Latour handled the character’s thirst for revenge and the bounty hunters he hired to help him enact it. He legitimately has a reason to be as pissed as he is at Han Solo, and one quickly gets a sense of his commitment to his revenge, making him a pretty nuanced villain for a single-issue comic. And while his bounty hunter companions don’t get the same treatment, it’s never apparent because they aren’t the focus and Frax is compelling enough it doesn’t feel like we need anything more about them anyways. That being said, I’d like to see more of them at some point…and more of Han’s dubious choices as well (maybe we’ll see a few in the upcoming film).
Michael Walsh’s art was superb overall. The colors were a little muted and dark from time to time, therefore giving the issue an overall dull appearance, but that style worked wonders in the cave scenes and the ice storm at the end. And seriously, the storm at the end is one of my favorite scenes in all of Star Wars comics due to the look of the art alone, as it really felt like the snow storms I’m used to up here in Wisconsin…I mean the Manor. Otherwise the action was easy to follow and overall character designs were styled but easy on the eyes. Solid art and I really hope this isn’t the last we see of Michael Walsh.
Here are a few other things:
- While the first Annual issue was part set up for an arc later in the main storyline, the fantastic character Pash introduced in Annual #2 has been disappointingly absent. From the way things end here, this won’t be setting anything up either, which doesn’t make it any less satisfying, but I’m interested to see if they’ll ever use the Annual that way again.
- The last two Annuals came in December, so I was surprised to see this out a few months early, but maybe they wanted to get it out before Kieron Gillen takes over.
Writing and art combine for another excellent Star Wars Annual issue, so don’t pass this one up!
+ Han and Leia bickering feels fresh again
+ The many layers of Frax
+ Walsh’s art really stands out
STAR WARS CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Annual: #1 | #2
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 (#34-37)
The Screaming Citadel (crossover of Doctor Aphra and Star Wars on-goings)
Aphra (#1-6) | And the Enormous Profit (#9-14) | Annual: #1
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13) | Legend Lost (#14 – 16) | War Stories (#17-19)
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith
The Chosen One (#1-6)
Vader (#1-6) | Shadows and Secrets (#7-12) | The Shu-Torun War (#16-19) | End of Games (#20-25) | Annual: #1
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader on-goings)
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu (miniseries)
Captain Phasma (miniseries)
Darth Maul (miniseries)
Han Solo (miniseries)
Rogue One (adaptation)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (miniseries)
Shattered Empire (miniseries)
Princess Leia (miniseries)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (miniseries)