One of the significant characteristics that differentiates the Original Trilogy from the Prequel Trilogy is the direct presence of evil. To understand this succinctly, look at the character of Darth Vader. In the Original Trilogy, Vader is always there. He’s a commanding presence who won’t think twice about Force-choking a Moff who disagrees with him in front of others. Likewise, he’ll torture a Destroyer captain to death for merely underestimating some fleeing Rebels. Vader was never one to mince words, nor was he afraid to get his hands dirty. By contrast, in the Prequel Trilogy, the true force of evil – Emperor Palpatine – never really comes out of his shell until the final movie (REVENGE OF THE SITH) as he prefers to skulk in the shadows. He’s prone to manipulate others to see his deeds done, and, as a result, true evil never really has a face or a method or a moment that terrifies its audience.
Thankfully, scribe Brian Wood ‘gets’ that, and perhaps that’s why he’s ventured into the STAR WARS universe during the Original Trilogy. Thankfully, he returns the character of Darth Vader – one of cinema’s most revered screen villains – to prominence. In #10, when Vader speaks, others listen. Clearly, they fear the consequence. They fear the exercise of evil.
And that, my friends, makes for stirring drama.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
What lengths will Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles be willing to go in order to save themselves and their friends from the looming Imperial menace? How far would Princess Leia Organa descend into the depths of vengeance when she faces a man responsible equally with Grand Moff Tarkin for the destruction of her homeworld, Alderaan? How will Han Solo survive his first face-to-face encounter with the legendary bounty hunter, Boba Fett? And what greater instruction does Darth Vader have for the agent who has delivered him a galaxy-shattering revelation?
This is not only great STAR WARS; it’s great drama.
Scribe Brian Wood has continued to raise the stakes in his ongoing monthly set in a galaxy far, far away. Still, #10 contains some exceptional moments (finally) for some of his bit players. Prithi may have made the ultimate sacrifice in her service to the Rebel Fleet. Birra Seah delivers a discovery unto Vader himself, and she sees personally how definitively evil demands not so much obedience as it does subservience to its cause. And an ambitious – maybe too ambitious – Imperial commander wants nothing more than to participate directly in slaughtering Rebel pilots and capturing the glory of the Emperor himself.
Unlike how others writers dance around evil and its various machinations, Wood is doing brilliantly what George Lucas did back in the late 70’s and early 80’s: he’s putting evil and its aftermath on direct display. He’s put it there, given it a face again, and he’s contrasting its ruthlessness in wonderful moments with our heroes having to reflect on what costs that evil has brought to them individually and collectively (the collapse of Red Squadron; the destruction of Alderaan; the loss of anonymity for the Rebel Alliance now forced to flee the Imperial Fleet; etc.). Mostly, he’s showing us a galaxy in conflict by putting our heroes through their paces, always building toward something greater with each successive issue.
That’s an adventure I, for one, am willing to take.
STAR WARS #10 (ONGOING) is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Brian Wood; the art is drawn by Carlos D’Anda; the colors are by Gabe Eltaeb; and the lettering is by Michael Heisler. For those of you who may’ve missed it, STAR WARS was created by George Lucas. The issue comes with the welcome, affordable price of only $2.99.
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. Wood continues to deliver the goods, bringing that seminal Original Trilogy era of STAR WARS to life. Alliances are starting to shift, and friendships are continuing the build – there’s some great character strengthening for Wedge Antilles, a man the films only treated incidentally who’s had a long, rich, and distinguished life in the pages from Dark Horse. This is why we read comic books, folks: they build on the foundation of what’s come before, showing us only a glimpse at the possibilities yet to come. They keep us young, and they keep us interested. Bravo!
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with a digital reading copy of STAR WARS #10 by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.