Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Jesus Sáiz
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: R.B. Silva, Guru-eFX
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
“Anything worth doing, is worth overdoing”
That’s Star Wars in a nutshell right now but with a specific focus.
Everybody knows the name, everybody loves the family, and everybody’s familiar with the story. Well Star Wars #1 is here to add to that incredibly fleshed-out and explored story.
Set immediately after Luke Skywalker has his hand cut off by Darth Vader in the movie The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars #1 is a fill-in-the-gaps story. The issue blasts out of the gate in familiar territory with a dejected Luke who’s been humiliated by his defeat at the hands of Darth Vader in the underbelly of Cloud City and is grappling with the revelation of Vader as his father. Star Wars #1 follows Luke — aboard the Millennium Falcon — as he, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, and Leia Organa make their way to a rendezvous point to meet up with the rebellion. Unfortunately, the rebellion is under attack from the Empire.
Written by Charles Soule and visually presented by artist Jesus Sáiz, Star Wars #1 is a story you’ve been told before. It’s something that we all want but we don’t need. It’s a liquid filling in the cracks of a rapidly shrinking space by explicitly providing a canon story where our imaginations once built a bridge. And that’s the problem. It has no room to breathe. Star Wars #1 feels robotic and sterile. The dialogue is clunky and feels forced at times with far too many “on the nose” references and expository phrases. Everyone’s familiar with these characters and the events of the original trilogy of films. There’s no need to say Han’s full name or shoehorn in info dumps about who these people are. It’s inauthentic and betrays the character’s voices. This is one of the most beloved mythologies in history with a massive cultural presence right now. This issue would have been just fine without Lando reminding Chewie that Han Solo and him are pals.
There’s potential for an interesting perspective in this sandbox, but Soule’s exploration of transitional material is stiff. It’s not even his fault either. He does his best with what’s available, but what’s available isn’t much. He’s playing with toys that need to be kept pristine. There’s no room for revelation or growth because the slightest real change either dramatically affects the perception of these characters in their future stories or whatever’s altered just flat out doesn’t mesh with how we know things turn out. That’s a tough spot to be in, and Soule navigates it gracefully.
One aspect of Star Wars #1 that could have been malleable was the art. But that too was forced to play it safe. The inherent problem with drawing characters that were played by living people is that you run the risk of losing your artistic interpretation. The result in Star Wars #1 is that Sáiz’s art seems to be caught somewhere between his interpretation and photorealism. It gets strange at times with the human characters but works fantastically with the non-human characters and the ships. Some of the panels are rendered wonderfully while others seem like an afterthought as is the case with a few of the backgrounds in some of the space scenes. They end up looking funky like patterned colors or pastel scratches.
The biggest problem with Star Wars #1 is the stakes. The issue has two cliffhanger endings and neither of them have much of an impact. Lando and company ponder a daunting question about the rebellion, and there’s a small, epilogue-ish scene with Luke talking to R2-D2 about the future of his journey. Unfortunately, neither holds any weight as we already know how the story plays out. We’ve already been given the answers to these questions. This is an inherent problem to this sort of storytelling. There’s little opportunity for mystery or intrigue because there’s a definite ending that already exists.
It’s not all negative though. There’s absolutely a comfort in revisiting these characters in this time period. It’s your childhood eternalized. It’s an easy rhythm. Star Wars #1 is definitely enjoyable; it just doesn’t do anything new. It treads on very familiar territory and plays a formulaic tune. It’s a story that doesn’t justify its own existence. What’s it trying to do? What’s it trying to say? It seems like it’s just trying to hit us with a dose of nostalgia for characters and settings that we’re used to. And it rings hollow after The Rise of Skywalker was just released and the Skywalker saga supposedly has come to an end. It would have been monumentally refreshing to read a story about characters not directly tied to the Skywalker name. It would have been a welcome change of pace to see ships, planets, technology, and scenes that haven’t been examined from every microscopic angle for the past 40 years. Star Wars #1 is not a bad book in any way. It does what it’s supposed to do in the way it’s supposed to do it. And that’s the tragedy of it.