This is not the comic you’re looking for.
Scratch that. It is the comic you’re looking for. I would feel little to no guilt in Jedi Mind Tricking all of you into picking up a copy, but I’ll try the old fashioned way of convincing you to buy it first.
Star Wars #1 is written by Jason Aaron (Thor, Southern Bastards, Wolverine and the X-Men), with art by John Cassaday (Astonishing X-Men, Planetary, Captain America), in a brand new ongoing series officially kicking off Star Wars under the Marvel Comics banner once more. Star Wars comics have been published by Dark Horse since 1991, until it was announced that the license would move back to Marvel in 2015. The move seemed inevitable in light of Lucasfilm’s acquisition by Disney, and even though I (among many others) was skeptical at first, I now find my own lack of faith disturbing. After reading this issue, there are no more doubts. Only a new hope.
The opening sequence of “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” followed by a two-page splash of that iconic logo immediately – and brilliantly – set the mood for the ultimate, old school Star Wars experience. I could practically hear the John Williams score blaring loudly and triumphantly in my head as I turned the page, and what I found next didn’t disappoint. After the beginning plot synopsis, designed to emulate the iconic scrolling text at the beginning of every Star Wars movie, the reader is immediately thrust into an exciting plot taking place sometime between Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Luke has destroyed the Death Star, the Empire is in the midst of regrouping, and Rebel forces are already seeking to carry out their next big move.
It’s like something straight out of one of the movies. Dark, open space serves as the background to a vessel in motion, coming in for a landing on an Empire-occupied planet. Once Han Solo steps out of the ship, I started to really feel at one with the story, immediately invested with those old, familiar characters and aesthetics.
From there, it’s a lot of the usual suspects, which only further nurtures those sweet feelings of nostalgia. Han, Luke, Leia, Chewie, C3PO and R2D2 are on a mission to take out another Imperial base, but they inevitably run into trouble once they’re behind enemy lines. What starts out as a simple operation is quickly complicated by unexpected prisoners, a malfunctioning Millennium Falcon and a dangerous enemy.
Aaron and Cassaday make the perfect team for this. Aaron’s script is spot-on in terms of characterization – and, more importantly, fun. Cheesy puns giving nods to the films keep you in the moment, and the between-character dialogue feels completely organic. The story itself is well-structured from both narrative and visual angles; it all comes to a head in a surprising but perfectly-executed way. The plot feels lighthearted, though with real stakes still involved, and Cassaday’s art provides a great accompaniment to Aaron’s writing. He captures the likeness of all the main characters well. While sometimes they come off stiffer as a result, I enjoyed the panels where I recognized certain facial expressions just as in-character as the dialogue that came with it. For me, a lot of my difficulties with reading past Star Wars comics were in the art. The actors are so burned into my brain, I need a certain likeness to them on the page to make everything click. Cassaday, along with Laura Martin’s beautiful and realistic colors, certainly offers that. The action sequences are also elegantly choreographed.
Star Wars is off to a strong start. One with a solid plot and the perfect mixture of nostalgia and newness. With Star Wars, there’s a lot that you can work with in terms of writing fresh stories. Huge gaps of time between each movie have been left up to interpretation and executed dozens of times, both in comics and in novels. Aaron has proven with Marvel’s more recent Thor series that he possesses a real gift for epic fantasy adventures, and it’s already obvious from this first issue that he’s passionate about what he’s telling. It doesn’t hurt to note that this series will also tie directly into Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca’s Darth Vader series that’s set to release in February.
Like so many others, I grew up with this beloved franchise. I’m always happy to see a new chapter unfold, especially if it happens to include Princess Leia punching first. All in all, I’ve got a good feeling about this.