1.09.2013

01.09.13 Reviews (Rebel Alliance Edition)

Star Wars #1 (Dark Horse): Brian Wood and Carlos D’Anda pick up events in motion directly following the destruction of the first Death Star, with Leia, Luke, and elevated b-character extraordinaire Wedge Antilles searching for a replacement home for the outed rebel base on Yavin 4, all while dealing with the personal emotional fallout of the many lives lost in the name of the Rebel Alliance. Let me just say up front that there’s so much to like about this book! Carlos D’Anda’s art is crisp; I loved the sharp clean precision of the hangar bay and the shots of Leia with a blaster dealing the unflinching disposition of a TIE fighter pilot. It’s evident that D’Anda “gets” the Star Wars Universe; it’s there in the bulgy pouches, the detail of the uniforms, and all of the technology, from gleaming lightsabers to the bridge of the Star Destroyer, which isn’t gleaming clean, but dirty and tattered, capturing the “used future” of the Lucas originals. Wood delivers a seamless re-immersion into a familiar world, managing to capture the voices of all your favorites. We are quickly introduced to emotionally-guarded Leia, smirking cavalier Han, openly introspective Luke, capable soldier Wedge, and the barely-controlled-rage of Vader, with even a story-driven reason for putting a more serious spin on the comic relief character of C-3PO, thus leaving his mark. The comfort of the known is there (look for the homage instances of omniscient narration like you’d find in the old 70’s and 80’s Marvel Comics), but Wood is also careful to add layers of new intrigue and just… frickin’ cool stuff… in a script that feels dense with content, but still moves at a swift pace. There’s a good balance of action hook and talky bits that set up this new direction, with Leia acting as headliner, mixing it up with the boys as a soldier-statesman, leading covert ops with two very precise mission objectives from Mon Mothma, as the survival of the rebellion hangs in the balance. Notice that there are two incredible female leads driving the entire premise. It’s no surprise to anyone who knows Wood’s penchant for diligent research that this book has an authentic sound; it gives good ear with its “ion plumes,” and “TIE Interceptors,” and talk of “Sienar Fleet Systems,” and the “Incom T-65,” when lesser writers would just go ahead with the common vernacular and say “X-Wing Fighter.” Honestly, I entered this hopeful, but with a little hesitation. I thought that maybe the creative team, any creative team, would be hard-pressed to provide fresh thrills to someone like me who grew up steeped in the Star Wars mythos, had the action figures, acted out every fucking scene of The Empire Strikes Back with my cousins and the neighborhood kids, read the technical manuals and encyclopedias – not to mention all the various comics, won college trivia contests because I knew what a damn Bothan was, and watched the films countless times. For good or bad, our generation is one that can often see the world of pop fiction through a Star Wars lens, everyone became a pseudo-expert on Joseph Campbell’s notion of crossing the threshold and monomythic self-discovery by sheer galactic osmosis, without ever having read the book(s). It’s obviously a credit to Lucas for tapping into something so primal and imagining a world with such limitless possibilities, but I have to admit I’m genuinely impressed with this incarnation from Wood and D’Anda. They’re immediately knocking it out of the park with compelling entertainment that taps the nostalgia button, but also adds a modern flair for stakes, tone, and style, while filling in the logical gaps in the interstitial space between movies, and building toward an incredibly rousing payoff to this issue that would make the audience cheer if it took place in a movie theatre. I’ve read tons of Star Wars comics and this instantly ranks the best. Everything feels right. It’s hard not to imagine existing comic book fans eating this up, hard not to imagine this functioning grand as a gateway drug to the medium for any curious moisture farmer civilians, hard not to imagine the LCS circuit ordering this by the thousands, and hard not to imagine the interest spilling over to other deserving Brian Wood titles. So, if it takes the inherent draw and mass appeal of Star Wars to make people finally realize that Wood is the voice of our generation, then so be it, reroute auxiliary power to the front deflector shield and punch it, Chewie! Grade A+. 

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