Star Wars #5 (Dark Horse): In sound journalistic fashion, I’ll try not to bury my lead. This is the best issue of the series to date, and it’s going to receive a very high rating today, which actually presents something of a problem for me, since I’ve already been giving the single issues my highest rating.
Now, a few of the guys who shop at my LCS and buy the book have expressed the idea that having Leia out in the field dog-fighting in an Incom T-65 and running off-book stealth missions perhaps strains credibility since she’s the “leader of the Rebellion” (their words). I've heard this fan griping before and frankly, I'm sick of it. Is it really 'cuz she's a leader? Is it 'cuz she's piloting? Is it really 'cuz she's an icky girl?
Not only is it important to acknowledge that her having the technical skill to do so is quite well established, in the very canon of the films no less, but c'mon, it’s not like she’s POTUS out with the SEALs on the Bin Laden raid. Meaning, she’s not actually the top person in an established government. First, while Leia is certainly a high ranking and important member of the Rebel Alliance, it’s Mon Mothma who's calling the shots, which is why she eventually goes on to serve as the Chief of State in the New Republic.
Second, the Rebel Alliance is also not an established government. It’s a rebellion. Rebellions are often street-fights. Rebellions require hit and run guerrilla tactics. Rebellions require that everyone roll up their sleeves to participate, get dirty, and Boushh it up a little. Washington did cross the Delaware after all.
Diving in, Wood expertly juggles three plot threads and pushes every one of them hard. Leia and her strike team get pounced on by a group of Star Destroyers, and Bircher is deployed with some elite TIE Interceptors. The space battle is choreographed in an extremely engaging fashion, and without spoiling it in great detail, well, I’ve just never seen an X-Wing that battle damaged. It actually makes your pulse quicken and I felt a twinge of fear for the occupant, despite knowing Wood can’t really kill off any established characters at this point. That’s how emotionally invested I was.
We also follow Han and Chewie on Coruscant, doing what they do best, getting in over their head in seedy back alley bars, rolling among dangerous bounty hunters and all manner of galactic creatures and races, including a capable new female character named Perla. As if seeing Boba Fett up close and personal wasn’t exciting enough, The Hound’s Tooth must be parked somewhere on Coruscant, because everyone’s favorite Trandoshan bounty hunter is riding shotgun with him. It’s not all just set pieces though. Wood manages to squeeze in characterization during all the razzle-dazzle, stuff like Boba Fett weighing the pros and cons of delivering Solo to either Jabba The Hutt or Darth Vader.
Wood also touches base with some pilot named Luke and his wingman Prithi, who appears to be not only a love interest for Luke, but a little force sensitive as well. We’ll see where that goes. Oh, I lied, there’s actually a fourth plot thread as well, with Vader deputizing Birra Seah as an Acting Moff, which has all sorts of potential, not the least of which is a female in the Imperial command structure, which I don’t think we’ve ever seen before(?).
Carlos D’Anda nails everything! The camera placement and perspectives during the action, the way Bircher is bathed in a menacing red glow inside the TIE cockpit (thanks to Gabe Eltaeb on colors), the ability to convey speed and motion in space, the close-ups of Fett and Vader, from explosive action to intimate facial expressions, there’s a slick dirty sheen to the proceedings that’s perfectly suited for what Lucas envisioned and Wood enriches.
Yeah, I think “enriches” is the word I want to use now, the word I meant when I kept saying in previous reviews that Wood is still able to world-build in an incredibly well explored world. The Star Wars tree has many branches and off-shoots, if you’ll forgive this analogy, but Wood is able to fertilize the thing, grow some branches of his own that bloom with life and freshen up this nearly 40 year old evergreen. For those keeping score, this is the fifth perfect score in a row for this title, setting a record in these parts which I doubt will ever be eclipsed, not even by the twin suns of Tatooine. Grade A+.