I am vaguely aware of the existence of the Extended Universe and all the books and comics set in it, but outside of couple video games I have never come in contact with it. I love Star Wars, but not that much. So the first volume of Marvel’s ongoing flagship Star Wars series is my first contact with the galaxy far far away portrayed in this media.
If I had any reservations before picking up this book, they were all gone when I read who is responsible for committing it. Jason Aaron has my complete trust when it comes to writing, after he made me fall in love with Thor in his various Thor series and reintroduced Doctor Strange into his new ongoing series (I still need to get my hands on his Southern Bastards from Image). Also he just won an Eisner Award for the best writer.
The story is set between the events from The New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. A great choice in my opinion. Such setting gives a lot of wiggle room for the story and allows to explore and develop the characters that we know so well. It also allows to show some of the actual rebellion work that is not solely focused on Luke’s journey to become a Jedi (although it is also part of the story). After all something must have happened that Rebellion moved from celebrating victory after the first Death Star’s destruction to holding back against Empire’s siege of Hoth.
Most importantly the characters stayed true to their original cinematic portrayals and in some instances they even got improved. Luke is getting over Obi-Wan’s death and tries to become a Jedi on his own, C3PO’s and R2D2’s banter is still funny, princess Leia and Han are stuck in a circle of flirt and annoyance, and Chewbacca is as eloquent as ever.
But let’s talk about the villains. We all know the Darth Vader is bad, he is an icon for a bad guy with his cool design, smooth voice, iconic theme and the force choke. However Darth Vader in this comic is truly menacing. He is an unstoppable executor of Empire’s will, who can’t be challenged by anyone. He is obsessed with discovering the identity of the pilot who destroyed the Death Star (which is Luke) and our heroes are no match for him (yet). At the same time he is insecure and self-centred just like Anakin was in the newer films. There is a moment in which he kills a Stormtrooper who looked at him without his mask. That is the Vader we are dealing with.
Also Boba Fett is worth mentioning. A bounty hunter beloved by many, but which had only five lines of dialogue in the original trilogy and was more of an interesting looking set piece rather than an actual character. Here he is a real badd ass. I finally understand what the hype surrounding him is all about.
John Cassaday manages to transfer the feel of Star Wars set pieces onto the pages in a great fashion. Also characters look very well; they look like more cartoonish versions of the original actors but without making them look comical (at least for the most part). Kudos for that.
Four out of five Leia’s in slave outfit.