A New Alliance Made for Rebellion in Star Wars #41
Luke continues to be hunted for the Jedi he has yet to become, Han shows growth as a leader, and Leia makes an unlikely ally.
The 6-part Ashes of Jedha concludes with some successes for the Rebellion while showcasing areas for improvement with storytelling. If you have watched our episode from a few weeks ago, you know this first run with Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca hasn't blown me away. That said, this arc does connect Rogue One and A New Hope well. At the same time, we see some character development that more closely aligns with our heroes from Empire Strikes Back. Here in Star Wars #43, the Empire continues to fail at harvesting the remaining kyber on Jehda. Meanwhile, the Rebellion makes an surprising new friend. Fair warning now, SPOILERS BELOW.
Check out that left hook! It's possible a lot of readers hoped for a panel like this after finishing last week's issue. Here's the odd thing. Queen Trios' told Leia to punch her. Well you know, some people are into that. We next witness a series of revelations. First, Trios is responsible for the Rebels getting the plans to the Leviathan. Trios admits she is working to take down the Empire from inside. I know some people who had suspicions of this but for the majority of readers this may have all come as a surprise. It's a nice reveal and payoff for readers.
What's up with Han? Well, he's with the Partisans. Their on a mission to the bridge of the Leviathan but it's already cleared. Oh yes, cue, Luke battling Imperial Commander Kanchar.
Side note. Now, I have several friends and fellow fans speculating on this panel. Now that the teaser and teaser trailer have dropped for the "Solo" movie people are starting to say they see Alden Ehrenreich more in Salvador Larroca's depiction of Han. Okay. If you see it and it helps your reading experience great. I don't. That said, this touches on my bigger issue with this run and Larroca's style. His hyper-realistic depiction of the actors takes me out of the story on a constant basis. Facial depictions can look odd and it makes backgrounds look flat and creates this odd out of focus look at times. I'm a fan of the 2015 Vader run but slowly my love of this style has plummeted.
We pick back up with Luke who is skirmishing with Imperial Commander Kanchar. This baddie is pretty intense. In case this is your first time hearing of this guy, strap in. He is a cyborg with an arm that is an axe. It can withstand the strike of a lightsaber. You also get to see it fires flame. Maybe this is what recently inspired Elon Musk to release those 3,000 flamethrowers for purchase? As I progress these panels I get a Vader/Luke battle vibe from Empire. Lots of close shots. Anyways, Kanchar has the advantage in this battle. Now I know some who have strong convictions about The Last Jedi will scoff because Luke is not in control so he runs away. People will say, "See, he has always run away!" Well stop that....but Luke does run away.
Next we get a history lesson from Queen Trios about what fuels her passion to overturn the Empire. Vader killed her father and her Royal House. The Dark Lord allowed her to take her title along with gifting her a part of Alderann. It's a symbol of what happens to planets that defy the Empire's rule. Instead of being frightful and doing the Empire's bidding, she began at that point to avenge her loved ones and her people. This is an element that Trios and Leia can connect with. It's here where Trios reveals the Sho-Torun have kept part of it's harvest of ore and additional resources from the Empire. These materials will now be gifted to the Rebellion.
Here's where we see some of Luke's ingenuity. Kanchar thinks he has the jedi-in-training cornered in the docking bay of the ship. Luke activates an ion torpedo. It's the same concept as the Ion Canons in Empire in ESB, right? Blast happens and deactivates the cyborg and Luke's right hand gets zapped. Now it's time for Luke to find the others.
Luke finds Leia with Trios. The Queen says she has to stay behind to slow down Imperial forces. The brother and sister duo (they don't know that yet obviously) take off to find Han and the Partisans.
With an escape for our heroes comes sacrifice. The goal is to crash the Leviathan. To do that, someone needs to see it through. Ubin speaks up to say she will do so but Han doesn't like the idea of leaving anyone behind. This is the moment that joins a list of other similar moments that hint at Han's ability to care for others rather than just himself. The exchange is short and Han takes off on the Falcon, only to swing her around and get the Partisans on board. The falcon finds Luke and Leia just before the Leviathan crashes. They take off while Kanchar and Trios escape on an imperial ship.
We return to NaJedha. The Partisans vote to stay in place to continue to care for Jedha. Our heroes have to move forward. We next get one of my favorite quotes in Star Wars.
"...Dying heroically is one hell of a thing but it's not the only thing. The best thing about living heroically? Medal ceremonies."
Classic Han Solo right there, isn't it?! Ubin is a Rebel true to the cause and it has caught Han's attention. It's a moment of heart combined with slight sarcasm that is a decent bow to wrap around this issue.
Final thoughts: I think Queen Trios and Han are my two positives with this issue and the overall arc. Because of the twist we get in this issue, I think there is a decent chance she reappears down the road in comics or in a novel as a rebel informant. The development with both is really exciting because Trios is new and proves to be a legitmate addition to the story of our Original Trilogy heroes. Speaking of which, we are getting glimpses of the leader Han will become. At this point, he is closer to his emotional maturity of Empire Strikes Back. Yes, emotional maturity. He knows. You know.
Visually, there are a handful of panels throughout this entire arc that will keep my buying this run. Most in this arc that come to mind include depictions of the broken Jedha. However, I really find Larroca's hyper-realistic approach with character faces to distract me from reading. I can't get into the flow of the story because the art takes me out. Because the faces are so detailed they can look exceptional or horrendous. Cue the first panel with Leia's face. The backgrounds translate as flat and sometimes panels seem out of focus.
Do you agree? Let me know by dropping a comment to continue the conversation.
David's Rating 6/10
Star Wars #44 Hits Comic Book Shelves on March 7th