The reason we, as a society, tend to root for an underdog is because we’ve been there. We know all too well what it feels like to be facing insurmountable odds. We’re familiar with what it means to feel perennially backed into a corner where the only way out is fighting. Not only is do we experience vicarious pleasure at seeing ‘the little guy’ or ‘the average Joe’ survive any toe-to-toe match-up with a singular brute but also we see a bit of ourselves in him, and we’re privately reassured of that old adage: “anything he can do, I can do better.” It’s the little engine that could. It’s David vs. Goliath. And – without a doubt – it’s the Rebel Alliance of STAR WARS’ Original Trilogy. We beat the odds, and we emerge victorious.
That’s a sentiment that’s been percolating throughout Brian Wood’s run on STAR WARS. Taking us back to the timeframe between A NEW HOPE and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, we’re certainly aware that these characters are the ones who served Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine a serious blow in the battle of Yavin; but since that time they’ve been on the run. At every turn, it seems like the oppressive might of the Galactic Empire was ready to bounce, ready to strike, ready to release their wrath on the tiny band of do-gooders for the loss of the Death Star.
Put-up-or-shut-up time has arrived.
Guess who comes out on top?
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type 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 awaits Rebel star pilots Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles now that they’ve slipped the clutches of Imperials … only to find themselves flying T.I.E. interceptors as part of an attack wing bearing down on the fleeing Rebel Fleet? What fate could possibly be in store for Birra Seah now that she’s failed to meet the demands of an angry Lord Vader? What’s lurking out there in the cosmos for Han Solo and Chewbacca in the heart of a dense asteroid belt? What’s the real motivation behind Bircher’s desire to tangle face-to-face with the Rebel Alliance? And where or where has Princess Leia gone off to?
STAR WARS has been a virtual celebration if not glorification of underdogs. In the Original Trilogy, the cocky fighter pilot Luke Skywalker learned to control his passions and use the Force in order to accept his destiny and bring about the end of the Galactic Empire. The upstart Princess Leia needed to be captured by Imperials and brought down a peg or two in order to truly recognize her importance to those that she served. Han Solo has always found himself living outside the law but desperately trapped between those who serve the Empire and those who illegally profit off the misfortune of the political system. Why – if you think about it – even a young Anakin Skywalker (in the Prequel Trilogy) was a bit of an underdog, little more than a scruffy kid looking for a way out of his life of oppression.
Once more, Wood has dipped deep back into the well, and he’s served up yet one more issue that shows why Dark Horse tapped him to take the franchise in a bold direction. Having the solid artwork supplied by Carlos D’Anda – who goes to great lengths to make these iconic characters retain the look of the original STAR WARS era but couples them with newcomers that don’t look even remotely out of place – only further solidifies this ongoing title as ‘one to watch’ on the shelves these days. Great writing, great settings, and great drama like this rarely combine as effectively; D’Anda even manages to bring to life a star battle like those usually reserved for the silver screen!
There’s a promise that the currently storyline will conclude with Issue #12, and, based on the developments from the last few pages of the book, I’ve no doubt there are still a few more aces up Wood and company’s sleeves!
STAR WARS #11 (Ongoing) is published by Dark Horse Comics, and STAR WARS was created by George Lucas. The story is written by Brian Wood; the art is provided by Carlos D’Anda; the colors are compliments of Gabe Eltaeb; the lettering is by Michael Heisler; and the whole shebang is edited by Randy Stradley. It all comes with a cover price of $2.99, and, in my humble estimation, that’s the best-priced book for its storytelling value I’m reading today. Bravo, Dark Horse, bravo!
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. There’s only one issue to go for Wood’s current storyline, and now that the news has broken that Dark Horse Comics is losing the STAR WARS license to Marvel Comics in 2015 (curse you, Walt Disney!), who knows what may yet be in store for Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, the droids, and all of the Rebel Alliance? By far, this has been a terrific, terrific experience: this team of storytellers has successfully brought back to life everything that made the Original Trilogy of films such a memorable experience. Can they deliver a blow-out climax? We’ll certainly know in 30 days!
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 #11 by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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About the reviewer
What? You don't know enough about me from the picture? Get a clue! I'm a graduate from the School of Hard Knocks! You can find me around the web as "Trekscribbler" or "Manchops". … more