I’ve often discussed the difficulty of reviewing comic book mini-series. For starters, they’re generally constructed as entirely independent entities; though they may be part and parcel of a larger, ongoing universe, the critic really has to separate himself (or herself) from what’s come before in order to be perfectly fair and impartial while evaluating the story’s merits. Also, the story unfolds typically a bit differently from ongoing series; whereas the ongoing title can fall back on that aforementioned previous history, mini-series tend to stake out territory yet unexplored creatively, so taking it in installment by installment can be tedious if it seems like the creative folks are holding things back. STAR WARS: REBEL HEIST may not embody all the hype surrounding its appearance in book stores, but who can be sure it won’t be the stuff of legends when it’s all said and done?
Not I, that’s for sure.
(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 …)
In those frantic times following the destruction of the Imperial’s greatest weapon, the Death Star, the Rebels are understandably on-the-run. No doubt, the Empire would’ve brought every available ship in the galaxy bearing down on the fourth moon of Yavin, so their evacuation was a necessity. As an organization, Luke Skywalker’s success in shooting a torpedo down that small exhaust port probably brought more people into the Rebel fold … and that’s largely where STAR WARS: REBEL HEIST begins. Our heroes are indeed scattered about the galaxy, and Han Solo has apparently been tasked with a very special, very secret mission which involves training a new recruit.
For better or for worse, that’s really all the story told in this first issue.
That certainly isn’t gangbusters in my estimation. I’ve followed Dark Horse’s tales over the years, and there have been many better first installments than this one. Quite a bit of the tale’s time is dedicated to ‘the stuff of legends’: Han Solo has become one (don’t forget how pivotal his efforts were in allowing Skywalker to do what he did in the big finish to STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE), so it’s entirely acceptable that any new recruit would look at him with glowing, adoring eyes. While those sentiments are all well and good, it’s still a bit disappointing if not underwhelming that nothing of substance appears to unfold in these first pages, and that’s why I opened my review with the reminder: greatness is rarely found in humble beginnings but rather properly earned before the epic conclusion.
Solo certainly behaves as one would expect him to behave, though I thought there were a few uncharacteristic moments. Did he learn nothing of running in with blasters blazing in A NEW HOPE? Sure, we knew he preferred a fair fight, but that was before all of the ‘did he or didn’t he shoot first’ nonsense George Lucas unfortunately hoisted upon fandom. (My take? Of course, he shot first.) And his faithful sidekick – the Wookie Chewbacca – is nowhere in sight, another disappointing development for any first chapter dealing with our lovable smuggler.
Still, if Dark Horse has taught me anything over the years it’s definitely don’t judge a book by its cover; so I’ll be here in 30 days to see what develops now that Han and this Rebel new-hire are really up-to-their-elbows in Imperial danger. Who knows what’ll happen next?
STAR WARS: REBEL HEIST (Part 01 of 04) is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Matt Kindt; the pencils are provided by Marco Castiello; the inks are done by Dan Parsons; the colors are perfected by Gabe Eltaeb; with lettering from Michael Heisler. All of this comes available to readers at the low, low prices of $3.50 an issue, and that’s still a bargain no matter where you go in the galaxy to get it.
RECOMMENDED. It’s a slow start, but REBEL HEIST might end up being the stuff of legends? It’s hard to say for sure as there’s so little to this as a first chapter in a four-part story. What there is, however, is plenty of focus in the area of the Original Trilogy, the timeframe most STAR WARS fans identify with. The Rebels are on the run, the Empire is on the move, and the Force may yet to strong with those who need it most.
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: REBEL HEIST (Part 01 of 04) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.
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