I'm writing this review only days after the sad news that Dark Horse Comics has lost the Star Wars license to Marvel Comics (in their partnership with Walt Disney, which owns Lucasfilm as of last year). Naturally, I'm heartbroken as I've been a fairly committed reader to the Horse especially in all things Rebellion and Empire since they began over 20 years ago. Rather than dwell on that sadness, I'll instead rush headlong into continuing to celebrate the good, the bad, and even the ugly for this installment. It's been a wild ride, and, if this current incarnation is any indication, Dark Horse's writers and artists are definitely going down swinging!
(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 …)
Now that his secret identity has been revealed to the Rebels, what lies ahead for Captain Bircher? Will he stay as part of their political movement, or could Mon Mothma have some other secret mission for him? And how will Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and the others respond to the fact that their leader has kept them very far removed from the truth of this mission, one that nearly cost them their very lives? What more can Prithi do now that she's come to terms with the sad truth that she accidentally exposed the Alliance to the Empire on their heels? And just what is it Darth Vader is doing without the blessings of Emperor Palpatine?
Like so many good reads, STAR WARS continues to build on the strengths of characters George Lucas created and writer Brian Wood is now tinkering with. So much of this arc has felt like a really good novel – there's been constant tugs and pulls between the good guys and the bad guys – but, were I to mention any weakness, it would be (now that all is said and done) that Luke and Wedge's predicament wasn't dire enough to be fully believed or accepted. It would be easy to chalk that impression up to a plot point (which I won't divulge for spoiling too much of it), but instead I'll point my finger in the direction of the reality that kinda/sorta plagues all Star Wars books of a certain era: we know the heroes will survive. They can't be killed off precisely because they're still alive for what comes next cinematically, meaning "The Empire Strikes Back."
That's a weakness any franchise-turned-comic has to face, and, in his defense, I think Wood has done an admirable job working around those particulars regardless. Han's predicament had more explosive moments; Leia's situation developed more organically; but Luke and Wedge seemed to find themselves out of the flying pan, then into the fire, then back into the frying pan with a little too much ‘theatrical' ease. It's a small gripe, but it's my job sometimes to point out small gripes.
Did it effect my overall enjoyment of the story here? Absolutely not. It's hindsight, and I offer it up exactly in that respect.
Will I be here in 30 days? You bet I will. In the meantime, may the Force be with us!
STAR WARS #12 (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 by Carlos D'Anda; the colors are by Gabe Eltaeb; with lettering by Michael Heisler. And at the cover price of $2.99, I contend that this is still one of the best priced books available in the marketplace today. Thus far, each and every issue has been entirely worth every penny.
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. Despite the fact that all of the action took place in Issue #11, STAR WARS #12 did as the final issue in any ongoing storyline must do: it tied up the loose ends, bringing all of the characters up-to-speed with the events, and it even nicely set the stage for events that will be unfolding down the road (the cliffhanger will pick up against in STAR WARS #15, but issues #13 and #14 are dedicated to a standalone arc possibly involving Darth Vader). Brian Wood has delivered a sometimes blistering first arc with tremendous grace; who knows what's waiting for the Rebels a long time ago in that galaxy far, far away next.
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 #12 by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.