Everyone knew that, once the Death Star exploded in those final minutes of the first Star Wars flick ever filmed, the Empire was not just going to roll over and play dead. No, as audiences knew, there were plenty of nefarious characters who couldn’t wait to strike back at our rebels. Yavin was only the beginning, and what’s developed in the ‘shadow of Yavin’ storyline is proving to be truly epic in the pages of the latest Star Wars creation from Dark Horse Comics. Now, Wood and his team pull out all of the stops to deliver something he hasn’t yet done in these books: he serves up some dangerous space combat – X-Wings versus TIE Fighters – and, once again, readers are thrown back a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and 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 two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
As this issue opens, the Rebellion remains on the run not only from the events of Yavin (the end of STAR WARS: EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE) but also from an all-new threat: the mole who’s feeding every development to the Empire all-too-willing to accept it in order to crush the resistance once and for all. In a single, masterful issue, author Brian Wood and his stable of talent deliver a story that pushes our heroes into even more treacherous happenings. Leia and Gray Squadron find their way out of the pan and into the fire; Luke and Prithi leave the Rebel Fleet with hopes of rescuing others; while Han & Chewie plunge into the Coruscant underworld with hopes of finding someone who can help them get away from ‘imperial entanglements’ as well as Boba Fett and Bossk!
Seriously – and I hope you’ve been following my regular reviews of this title – I can’t heap enough praise on what Wood is accomplishing here. There’s nothing like it in the Star Wars universe available right now, and he’s dishing out exactly the kind of story fans have quite probably been waiting for: adventure and intrigue at a time when that’s all the Rebel Fleet had available to them. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that D’Anda’s artwork is incredible; some might dismiss it as being too dependent on recreating the exact look of these classic characters … but isn’t that entirely what’s needed? His drawings bring the champions of our youth to life once more. Eltaeb’s colors and Heisler’s lettering are simply icing on the cake.
After the first four issues – which, in retrospect, were all in their own way responsible for adding another layer of character and situation to the growing tale – Issue 5 is a terrific near-standalone departure: a great space battle that raises the stakes, pitting the good guys directly against the bad where only the smartest stands a chance of surviving.
STAR WARS #5 is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Brian Wood; the art is by Carlos D’Anda; the colors are by Gabe Eltaeb; and the lettering is by Michael Heisler. The issue bears a cover price of $2.99, and isn’t it worth it for yet another quality adventure in the universe created a long time ago? This Jedi-wannabe says so!
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. Wood has finally dispensed (somewhat) with crafting new characters and new situations and, instead, delivers a stand-out story with some critical developments for our heroes – one that puts Luke at odds with following the orders he’s been given, one that puts Han & Chewie finally on course to escaping the trap they fell into on Coruscant, and one that poses some very grave developments for Princess Leia herself. It’s a lean, mean 24 pages that taps into the established premise and finally delivers a terrific hit out-of-the-park, with two cliffhangers that’ll no doubt leave an audience breathless for the next thirty days. The Force remains strong with this creative crew; let’s hope they can deliver an even better denouement.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with an advance digital copy of STAR WARS #5 by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.