There’s a fine line between a plot hole and an intentional omission. The original Star Wars trilogy contained its fair share of both, but something I always thought of as the latter was Luke and Leia never mentioning their past losses beyond the scene after they happen. Luke lost his family, Leia lost her world (which contained her family) but neither of them ever make another mention of it in the entire trilogy and while it’s not a plot hole per se, it always dehumanized the characters a bit. This book continues to fill a lot of those emotional gaps as we get an early scene of Commander Leia amidst the rubble of the planet Alderaan performing a mourning ceremony when she’s interrupted by an unexpected, mysterious guest. The scene is a very simple, minimalist and has an incredible amount of emotion. Leia has only her R2 unit for company, but muses that it’s enough for what she feels she must do, and that’s just the start of what is an amazing issue. Luke and Wedge have gotten themselves captured (remember, neither one have become the legends among the Rebellion they would in later years) to try and ferret out an Imperial plot that threatens to bring down the Rebellion from the inside while Han and Chewie, along with a new ally in the barge pilot Perla, attempt a daring escape off of Coruscant after a deal went about as bad as deals go.
Brian Wood has taken the archetypes that these characters were established as and fleshed them out with such incredible economy across eight issues that he’s actually enriching the films that came before this. I haven’t even mentioned the other plot threads, none of which feel neglected or half-developed and all of which have introduced amazing new characters who fit the universe absolutely perfectly and this is Wood’s strength that many other authors writing a pre-established universe don’t have: he writes characters for the universe first rather than thinking what he wants to write and forcing them in. Either that or his vision perfectly intersects with what is already established and that would certainly be the happiest of coincidences.
Ryan Kelly and Dan Parsons remain on pencils and inks and I have to say that I think they’ve adjusted to this book very well. I recall last month not liking a few of their panels, but those have largely gone and I love how this book looks. Whether the characters are floating through space, dodging and juking in lower atmospheres or frantically executing another “flawless” Star Wars prison break, everything looks fluid and natural, the characters are distinct but not TOO photoreferential and the action remains coherent and cohesive. Gabe Eltaeb, colorist from the first, continues to make the galaxy look shiny yet lived in, with colors that bring every panel into sharp relief. It’s not an easy thing to make everything look clean without making it sterile, but Eltaeb achieves it perfectly, especially with light sources. It’s one of those things that generally doesn’t get noticed unless it’s done poorly, but the lighting in this issue is some of the best I’ve seen in comics.
There’s really nothing to dislike except that I find all of these plotlines so rich and fascinating, I wish each one had its own book! That’s not to say there’s a lack of focus, that’s to say they’re all strong enough to support such an endeavor.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, new or old, there’s no reason not to pick this book up. Start at the beginning so you can claim you were here all along, because this book is going to be one that is remembered years from now as one of the best pieces of Star Wars media ever released. That may sound hyperbolic, but I assure you this book earns every word of praise I’ve heaped upon it by not only overcoming incredible odds AS a Star Wars Expanded Universe title, but being a great comic book in its own right. Highest recommendation, even if you’re not a fan there’s enough intrigue and interesting (and new) characters to turn heads.