This issue, I would say marks the conclusion of the first major arc in Brian Wood’s epic Star Wars tale of grief, espionage, and spycraft set between episodes IV and V, and it is, for the most part, a fantastic conclusion. The “stealth” squadron reaches their end, we find out a few critical plot details that get filled in, we get the band back together and even get introduced to some new characters and will hopefully be showing up in future storylines, and we get left with one helluva cliffhanger that actually takes advantage of Leia’s status as a princess for political reasons. The thing that has intrigued and captured my attention the most about this book is how it addresses things (Leia’s royalty, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, etc.) that even the original films seem to have forgotten about or taken for granted, and it does it in very organic, interesting ways that make a whole lot of sense.
Carlos D’Anda sticks around to bring his signature ultra-detailed, cartoonish linework to the issue, creating a tone that is at once dramatic and never dull. I very much enjoy how he’s managed to differentiate the characters without resorting to full-on photo reffing them as that was always one of the things that kept me from enjoying a lot of comics based on movies. This is a new, interesting place for his art to go as well as it’s an issue that is almost entirely conversations with basically no action beyond the wrap-up from last issue’s space battle, and it always looks great. Part of that is certainly also due to Gabe Eltaeb’s amazing, vibrant colors that do a great job of communicating not just the emotional resonance of the characters, but giving them a sense of place in the universe. The backgrounds, the lighting, everything about the setting is beautifully realized.
Without giving anything away, there is a large swatch of this plotline that I cannot make heads or tails of and it involves the formation of the Stealth Squadron (which does get a much more apropos name by issue’s end) and for what purpose it was formed. It’s not that I missed the reason, that much is clear, it just doesn’t seem to justify the wide-reaching conspiracy, though it does help explain a few more things.
If the above was vague, it’s only because I still wholeheartedly endorse this book as both an amazing addition to the Star Wars Universe and a great sci-fi story in its own right. You could change the names of all the pre-existing characters and still have a magnificent story, but the fact that it’s a familiar, beloved universe actually makes it all the more amazing.