Occasionally, I have a minor disagreement with others I know who do what I do and pen criticism online. Their opinion is that, as writers, we always have to maintain the ability to dissect a work in detail so that we can determine not only its worth but also how we feel about it. While I strongly agree with that, I’ve also maintained that there are times in the life of every critic when – for reasons we can’t explain – something just ‘works’ for us despite even evidence that it perhaps shouldn’t. In simpler terms, we ‘like’ it, but we can’t quite tell you why. Often times, this happens when we ‘feel’ something for the piece – some personal or emotional attachment to it – that defies are demonstrated ability to define it with eloquent prose.
We’ve developed the ability to christen these works as ‘closet favorites.’ Others call them ‘guilty pleasures,’ almost in an attempt to dismiss any quality wrapped up in them or silently to beg forgiveness (in advance) for our liking something we know we shouldn’t. For example, I’ve always loved FLASH GORDON (1980) for its cartoonish performances, drug-trip visuals, and high camp. To worsen matters, I have absolutely no problem admitting to anyone how much I love it even though I’ve been cautioned by countless others that to do so only cheapens my reputation.
So enter STAR WARS: LEGACY II: VOLUME 1: PRISONER OF THE FLOATING WORLD.
Hell. Being my usually cynical self, I ought to be spending quality bandwidth making fun of the obvious pomposity wrapped up in that inelegant title alone! Using a word like ‘Legacy’ in anything practically implies that you – as a writer – have usurped whatever respectability belongs to an established property for your own selfish needs. To me, it presupposes that you’re crying out for attention. But it’s use here is only intended to distinguish itself thematically from some of the other STAR WARS work that’s come before in Dark Horse’s 20+ years with the license; these are the stories of those who come after those we know so well, and that’s all it’s meant to underscore.
Ania Solo is the great-great granddaughter of that intrepid smuggler of old (STAR WARS’ Han Solo) and his bride (Princess Leia Organa). She is the ‘legacy’ at the center of this tale, and, while she doesn’t quite have Solo’s penchant for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, she’s definitely a close second. She finds herself at the center of a galaxy-spanning effort to establish a kinda/sorta new-fangled alternative to the long-running Republic, a move requiring the participation of the new Jedi Knights. And, of course, where there are Jedi, there are bound to be Sith.
Like the Prequel Trilogy, Legacy II is a return to an era of politics set within that galaxy far, far away; and I have to admit that there were elements of this that didn’t quite make as much sense as I suspect the creative crew intended. As is often the case, this world continues to build on the greater STAR WARS mythology – as well as what became canon from the earlier Legacy I title – and, as a consequence, I think some of this can be healthily chalked up to ‘lost in translation.’ (I say ‘healthily’ because I don’t think anyone need run out, purchase all of the Legacy I books, and bone up on it.) Thankfully, this is an adventure relying on briskness – there’s plenty of action and intrigue to distract from the greater political superstructure – and that pace lends itself pretty well to the narrative.
It also helps considerably that Ania feels like a natural successor of her great-great-granddaddy. She’s spunky, and she flies by the seat-of-her-pants in much that way one might expect of anyone named Solo. She traffics in salvage work (you’re telling me the Millennium Falcon wasn’t a scrapheap itself?), and she makes it up as she goes. Clearly, she has no endgame in mind when she does what she does, and her particular brand of inventiveness also works within these covers.
As for the supporting players?
Well, because this is only a first arc to what will obviously be a greater story, I think it’s safe to say that Solo’s given the best screen time here with good reason. Her immediate partner – Sauk (A Mon Calimari) – comes off as a bit of a rascally JarJar to me (not a good thing, but, like I said, it’s early). AG-37 is an assassin droid (IG-88 style) who shows up partway into the tale, and, while he’s given a few moments of comic relief, he’s a welcome addition … think C-3PO with more than a touch of Jedi-style wisdom. And the Jedis? Well, they’re wrapped up in here largely because the plot as designed required it. They have respectable Jedi moments, but none of them have the charisma of a Kenobi, a Ginn, or even a Yoda at this point.
What amazed me, though, when I had finished all of it is that – as I alluded to above – I kinda/sorta … liked it. For the life of me, I can’t quite put my finger on why. There’s a terrific vibe – an undercurrent – that serves this five-issue story. It feels like it’s thematically closer to the spirit of the Original Trilogy, and because I found the action entirely accessible despite some confusion over certain times, places, and politics, it worked just fine in a single sitting. Lastly, there are moments that strongly echo back to things that’ve occurred elsewhere in the STAR WARS’ universe.
Mind you, it has miles and miles to go before I’d ever put it on par with the films. But as a first volume I found it enticing and interesting enough to maintain my interest. Considering as much as I’ve read in this lifetime, let me say that that is no easy thing.
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