Review: Star Wars #1

star wars no 1The much-hyped and long awaited Star Wars #1 by Brian Wood is out today! Much has been said about this new comic and what it means to the characters and to fans, but how does it stack up?

Spoilers loom below, so read the summary and my take under the jump!   

Summary

The Battle of Yavin is a mere two months in the rear-view mirror. With their old base of operations compromised and the Rebellion drifting in a temporary starship home, Luke, Wedge, and Leia embark on a scouting mission to an Outer Rim world to try and find a more permanent place to set up shop. While they are in the system and pondering over the still-fresh events of Yavin IV and the destruction of Alderaan, the trio are ambushed by a Star Destroyer with a full TIE Fighter complement. Dogfight ensues and Leia picks up a tail that she can’t shake. She gets shot down, but manages to take her TIE Interceptor pursuer with her, both crash landing on the planet’s surface. Leia then reaches into her bag of tricks, pulls out her little-used huntsman knowledge, and tracks down the TIE pilot and shoots him in cold blood.

Meanwhile back at the fleet, Han’s dealing withhis heightened profile as a Rebel hero realizes that may make it difficult to continue life as a smuggler. It’s one thing to owe Jabba a debt. It’s another entirely to have a death mark on every Imperial world. Complicating matters? He’s obligated to report back to Mon Mothma these days. He promises the fleet he’ll be on his best behavior as he, Chewie, and the Falcon take off for Hyperspace.

Back in the middle of Nowhere, Outer Rim, the trio have patched up Leia’s X-Wing and are debating whether to lay low for the night or get the kriff outta Dominus. A wave of TIE bombers searching for them forces the issue, and the scout team follow Luke and his Force-led instincts to safety. Once safely back at the fleet, a deck officer grumbles that Leia’s an outsider to fleet operations, Luke chews out the deck officer, and Leia gets summoned by Mon Mothma. Leia’s informed that Dominus was a trap and there may be a spy in their midst. That’s why she’s authorizing Leia to take up the mantle of military intelligence specialist and commander of a small team to ferret out just who that might be.

In a Star Destroyer over Kuat, Darth Vader gets chewed out by Palpatine for the whole Death Star thing and is forced to relinquish command of his vessel and report elsewhere.

Quick Thoughts and Impressions

Off the bat, this is a comic that any Star Wars fan can pick up, regardless of whether they’ve got years of Expanded Universe knowledge or none at all. That’s a good thing. There need to be more jumping-on points for new fans to this part of the fandom and universe. Setting a story just after the Battle of Yavin provides an entry that isn’t encumbered by years worth of continuity and required knowledge. Props to Dark Horse and Lucasfilm editors. There seems to be a much more concerted effort by Expanded Universe creative types (Del Rey editors and writers included) to bring in new fans and that should be applauded.

The art is solid all around. When Alex Ross signs on to do a cover, you know you’re going to get a timeless one and what’s gracing Star Wars #1 is no exception. The character drawings looks great and resemble their film counterparts well. I wish I was more of an art critic and could provide you with more than “hey, this looks good!” But there you go.

Fleet junkies will enjoy this comic. There are dogfights to enjoy and an appearance by fan-favorite Wedge Antilles (who will supposedly be factoring in heavily into at least this arc). Those hoping for Han and Chewie might be disappointed with this issue simply because their appearance was brief and didn’t factor into the comic that much, seeming to be more of a cameo to set up later subplots.

This issue is a very introspective one, looking inward at Luke and Leia as they try to process their thoughts over the Death Star and the loss of Alderaan. It might be because of that it feels like not a whole lot happens in Star Wars #1. There was a lot of telling going on. Telling the readers how characters are feeling, specifically. That might be why I had a hard time getting sucked into this particular comic.

At the very least, it did an adequate job of setting up what is to come. Leia’s going to be commanding a small intelligence/commando/pilot hybrid unit of some variety to try and figure out if there’s a spy in their ranks. Han and Chewie are off on what looks to be an adventure. Vader’s off to redeem himself for his failure at Yavin (and hopefully stop moping around so much). End of the comic, the reader knows what’s on the horizon.

Still, I couldn’t get over feeling that the issue was just sort of dull.What’s weird is I don’t have a problem with comics that are introspective and moody. Look at one of my absolute favorite comics of 2012, Captain Marvel #1. That issue was nothing but introspection. And it was brilliant. I think where that succeeded and where Star Wars #1 failed was that the former excelled at the show-don’t-tell thing while the latter got too exposition heavy.

Another issue I had was with Leia, who is going to be a central and pivotal character in at least this first arc. This is a tricky thing to talk about, because I am of two mindsets with how she was portrayed in this comic and how she may be portrayed moving forward. On the one hand, I appreciate female characters being given integral roles in the Star Wars universe. Is it possible, though, to go too far? Let’s look at Leia in this issue: Brilliant politician, charismatic, dead-eye blaster shot, combat pilot, military savvy, given command of her own (small) outfit. All at age 19 or so.

I won’t go into too much depth, because either Nanci or myself are going to tackle it in more detail on the blog and on the podcast later, but don’t mistake that criticism for me thinking that Leia shouldn’t be a pilot or a good shot because she’s a woman*. It’s a criticism that can apply to any character regardless of gender. When a character is seemingly good at everything, it reduces how interesting and compelling they are. Even in a space opera universe, my willing suspension of disbelief goes so far. It’s not a problem, specifically, that Leia is apparently a good pilot and shot, but it is somewhat of an issue that she seems to excel at everything.

*Again, I’ll cite my current favorite comic run, Captain Marvel. Carol’s a brilliant pilot, superhero, and probably can handle a firearm. She also can’t do everything in the world well and definitely isn’t what you’d call a politically and socially savvy individual. That, despite the superhero powers of awesome, keeps her grounded and believable.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I love the female pilots and soldiers in this universe. Some of my all-time favorite characters come straight from the X-Wing novels and a bunch of them are female. Inyri Forge, Tyria Sarkin, Shalla Nelprin, Myri Antilles, Jesmin Tainer. I love that this new comic is featuring a female pilot like this, but I just don’t think it had to be Leia.

In all, Star Wars #1 was a decent enough start. The smoke-out-the-spy story is always a fun one that I enjoy and it’s looking to be a solid entry point for new fans that are unfamiliar with the Expanded Universe. Using Wedge is going to reach out to the folks that loved his military exploits in the Post-Return of the Jedi novels. While I do have reservations, specifically with Leia, I’m cautiously optimistic and plan to at least read through this first arc. Not optimistic enough to add it to a pull list yet, though.

Star Wars #1 is a decent-but-not-great issue, and I’ll give it a 3/5.

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