Two issues ago, Marvel’s Star Wars #6 did something that’s dangerous for any ancillary property to a mega-blockbuster franchise: It introduced a seismic shift in the canon by revealing that Han Solo, the rogue, longer smuggler, had gotten hitched.
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It was probably the boldest step Marvel’s taken with these comics so far, and it sparked both praise and outrage from the fan base. In what was probably a savvy move to let the fan frustration simmer down, the storyline was put on hold for two months with a standalone issue focused on an Obi-Wan Kenobi flashback tiding us over until then.
So naturally, Star Wars #8 was saddled with an enormous amount of pressure to make this twist work, but that’s not all. The art team behind this series has been completely replaced by Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbacker and Justin Ponsor, but rather than throw off Jason Aaron’s writing, it provides the perfect segway into the second half of a compelling story.
There are just some gorgeous images filling this latest issue. The double-page spread of the Imperial Star Destroyer deploying a fleet of TIE fighters; the vista of Luke’s X-Wing flying over a city on Nar Shaddaa; the shadows across Luke’s face as he ignites his lightsaber to end a bar fight. Immonen and his team have gone and captured the soul of Star Wars that pays tribute to the films while feeling like a world all its own.
And that’s not to take anything away from Aaron’s writing. The scenes among Han, Leia and Sana are splendidly written, as you can almost hear Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher saying the lines. We also get a little more insight into Sana, seen here as a ruthless bounty hunter who also carries some emotional wounds. But for now, Aaron is playing it smart and not revealing too much about this new character.
The other plot strand, featuring Luke traveling to Nar Shaddaa to find a way to sneak onto Coruscant and visit the Jedi Temple, isn’t quite as interesting and almost feels like a retread of the cantina scene from A New Hope. But it has plenty of potential as he runs into his own trouble on the planet.
This is the first chapter of a new story arc for Marvel’s flagship Star Wars title, and it feels like the writers are happy to have the origin story behind them so they can kick the adventure into high gear. With a stellar art team and a writer who’s got a knack for the rhythm of the characters, this Star Wars series is set to take the new expanded universe to new heights.