– Spoiler Review –
Star Wars #42 is the penultimate issue of Kieron Gillen’s first arc as writer for the series and his new direction and take on it become clearer in an exciting series of events which set up what is sure to be a fun finale.
The friendship between Han Solo and Chewbacca has long been one of my favorite aspects of Star Wars, mainly because I always had a dog growing up, even well into my early twenties (I got the second dog named Chewie) and I felt my friendship with my dogs have mirrored that of Han and Chewie to some extent: They both trust one another, one is stuck listening to the other and nods their heads in response, one is very huggable, and there’s a real sense of platonic love between the two. While I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of that in Solo: A Star Wars Story, but for the time being, Star Wars #42 spends a good deal with these two and Kieron Gillen really captures the nuances of their life partnership that we haven’t got in awhile in the comics. With the usual leader, Leia, on a different mission and Benthic injured from a surprise Imperial attack, Han is left captaining a ship full of Partisans who, being Partisans, want to do the most bombastic thing now that no one is telling them to listen to reason. Chewie’s been with Han a long time now and he knows this life with the rebels is changing Han, and he pushes him to step up as the leader of the group for the time being. Sure, Chewie hides this suggestion behind the fact that Han’s the Captain of the Falcon so he should be in charge, but Chewie understands he must push Han with baby steps and let the smuggler realize his natural leadership qualities on his own. It’s a beautiful thing their friendship, being so supportive for one another, and it really makes me wish I had a dog right now.
Speaking of friendships, it wasn’t as prominent as Han and Chewie, but having Luke and Leia spend some quality time as friends here as well was appreciated. Her problem with Luke running off to do Jedi things instead of helping out rang true to him after what he witnessed last issue and here he commits to following the Rebellion’s path and his friend’s first and foremost, with the realization Leia is far more important to the group than he’ll ever be (at least in the form of actual leadership at this point). Leia’s wisdom from years of hardships compared to Luke’s relative quiet early life is brought to the forefront, and how they manage to relate to one another despite that gap is a wonderful little thing this issue. It was also really interesting to hear how Luke talk about Jyn and the Rogue One crew, as he felt knowing of their sacrifice before blowing up the Death Star would’ve been too much pressure, but Leia and Ubin (the spec-ops rebel) help him see what they did was true heroism, even sneaking in a reference to that unforgettable ending with Vader slicing through the rebels. The connective tissue is strong with this one!
Last issue I hoped the cliffhanger of the mysterious package Chewie retrieved would resolve in the revelation it was something to undue the Empire’s trust in Queen Trios, and not a set of schematics which would allow the rebels to destroy the mega-mining-weapon, and needless to say I was left disappointed. It was schematics to the Leviathan, and while they aren’t going to blow it up but instead try to drive it off into Jedha’s abyss, it’s a little rote for them to be taking on another big weapon that can only be beat by schematics. I’m hoping issue #43 will provide a different resolution to this storyline, potentially even a loss for the rebels considering how tight of a spot they seem to be in right now, but only time will tell. Maybe the next arc will be a change of pace, at least? Regardless, issue #42 sets up an exciting confrontation between Queen Trios and Princess Leia and since we don’t see royalty battle royalty too often these days, I’m eagerly anticipating their showdown. However, it really seems like my guess Trios had some ulterior motive for being at Jedha is dwindling, but I won’t let my hope die for that until the final panel of issue #43.
A giant point of contention with the “Ashes of Jedha” arc so far has been artist Salvador Larroca’s continued reliance on tracing, which has resulted in some truly immersion breaking, ugly panels. (I spoke a bit more in length about it in my 2017 comic’s year-in-review). While the problem continues, there was a lot less tracing than he’s used over the past 10 issues or so of the series so far, and some of the traces felt right for the situation/panel for once. There were even plenty of characters with faces he drew, like Commander Kanchar, Queen Trios, and various background characters, which was a really welcomed change and helped me to enjoy this character-heavy, but well-paced set up issue. However, it still doesn’t heal the wound Larroca’s continued usage of tracing has opened, but if he trends in this direction going forward, it’s a nice first step to righting this ship. Guru-eFX’s colors continue to bring the chaos of Jedha to vivid life, though it might be a little too dark in some places.
Here are a few other things:
- While Trios v Leia is more anticipated, I’m also excited to see what weapon Commander Kanchar’s hand turned into and how Luke’s fight with him will go. I kind of enjoy his character now so I’d almost hope he survives this so we can see more of him, but the odds seem forever not in his favor.
- As myself and many fans imagined when Gillen was announced to take over, and he later confirmed, he would be a taking a more serialized approach compared to Jason Aaron’s anthology-lite. After the end of this issue, it’s clear the events of this arc will have a great affect on the characters going forward, as Luke won’t be chasing Jedi dreams and Han is on track to be a valuable leader in the Rebellion, so I’m excited to see events linger longer now as we get ever closer to The Empire Strikes Back.
I’m looking forward to the conclusion of this arc after all the exciting happenings and build ups in Star Wars #42.
+ Han and Chewie bromance
+ Luke and Leia friendship
– Things get a little better with the art, but not enough
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)
Kieron Gillen — Ashes of Jedha: #38 | #39 | #40 | #41
Annual: #1 | #2 | #3
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 (#7-12)
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
One-Shots: The Last Jedi – Storms of Crait