Star Wars #7 [The Wood Pile]
Star Wars #7 (Dark Horse): I’m betting that Brian Wood could writer a killer Black Widow book if Marvel ever offered up that character to him. This issue of Star Wars, and the run itself to some extent, is filled with increasingly clever espionage and counterintelligence traits. The Star Wars property has a rich tradition of such activity too, whether it’s Luke and Han gallivanting around the Death Star dressed as Stormtroopers, Lando going undercover in Jabba’s Palace to save his friend, or Leia posing as Boushh to do the same, just to name a few top of mind examples. Here, the main thrust of the issue sees Luke and Wedge attempt to infiltrate a Star Destroyer. It’s the latest example of Wood taking cues from the originals and then extending beyond them. It’s a seamless way to stay consistent with the source material thematically, yet world-build with fresh new content in the interstitial space between well consumed episodes. The biggest “news” regarding this issue is that Carlos D’ Anda is taking a break, so frequent collaborator Ryan Kelly joins Brian Wood for this arc. Kelly draws Luke’s face a little flat at times for my taste, but is otherwise able to play with a variety of sets and clothes and craft as Luke and Leia are still reeling from emotional fallout, but must develop a tactical plan to ferret out the spy. The perspective might be just a touch off with the angle of the blasters coming from Slave I, but that’s admittedly being extremely nitpicky (like all annoying Star Wars fans are). For the most part, Kelly excels at depicting this world; his tech is convincing, his Emperor is menacing, and his Leia is confident and beautiful. He might even have edged out D’Anda with my favorite illustration work for her. The crisp colors of Gabe Eltaeb certainly help the aesthetic of the book stay consistent during the artist transition; I especially liked the gorgeous dark shadows he coats some of the Tatooine bits with. No surprise, but I continue to enjoy Wood’s depiction of the various women in this universe. Obviously Leia is front and center, still in charge of the stealth squad as she brings Luke fully into the fold to hatch a new plan, and they attempt to work their problem from Colonel Bircher’s end. It’s an aggressive, high risk plan, but that’s basically what the Rebel Alliance excels at. They rely on daring and skill instead of mass numbers in battle like the Empire does. So many of the key roles are female. Leia is off on a(nother) mission of her own, Mon Mothma is the overall leader of the Alliance, Han’s new friend helping him “float away with the rest of the garbage” is a woman, Prithi is a daring pilot currently in a critical position, and Birrah Seah is caught in the power struggle between the Emperor and Lord Vader. It’s an egalitarian approach to the gender roles that never feels forced; it’s a natural use of the resources that happen to be present at every level of the conflict. Confession: If I saw a Hound’s Tooth toy, I’d probably buy it. Grade A.