Since Marvel’s main Star Wars comic is set between the events of Episode IV and V, the artists only have so much ground to cover before they encroach on canon territory from the films. So it was only a matter of time before the comic began reaching back into the past and delving into some of the Star Wars mythology from the prequel era, and the latest installment, Star Wars #9, makes a confident foray into that world.
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We last left Luke Skywalker on the dried-out, grimy smuggler’s moon of Nar Shadaa, which we get a beautiful view of in the issue’s opening panel. Skywalker starts out chasing a smuggler who snatched his lightsaber in the previous issue, but he’s soon kidnapped by Grakkus the Hutt, who looks like the bulked-out cousin of Jabba with some robotic legs.
Grakkus takes Luke back to his lair filled with Jedi antiquities, forcing Luke to open a holocron that he’s been unable to crack. Luke is accidentally more successful than expected, opening numerous holocrons around the lair that reveal the last messages of Jedi who died in the Purge. Grakkus decides to keep Luke and enter him into some sort of fighting tournament. Luckily, R2 sends out a distress signal to the Rebel Alliance, who send Chewbacca and C-3PO to rescue Luke.
Meanwhile, Han and Leia are still on a tropical world dealing with Han’s wife, Sana, who wants to abscond with Han and take Leia in to the Empire to collect a bounty. They’re interrupted by Imperial TIE Fighters, who pursue them into space.
The strength of Jason Aaron’s storyline and Stuart Immonen’s art is bringing something new to the Star Wars universe while still maintaining that classic feel. The planet of Nar Shadaa is beautifully realized, as is the imposing presence of Grakkus the Hutt, who succeeds in being a physical menace rather than just a villain who’s easy to hate, like Jabba.
The dialogue also continues to be a highlight, with Han, Leia and Sana’s banter feeling like it was ripped from a lost Star Wars script. Unfortunately, their storyline doesn’t change much this issue, and it’s starting to feel like it’s going nowhere, so hopefully the pace picks up for that story thread soon.
What’s most admirable about this particular Star Wars line is that, for the most part, it keeps the fresh, original ideas coming even though it’s hamstrung by being caught between two important pieces of canon.
Although the series has definitely stumbled here and there, it’s managed to pull off an impressive balancing act of providing new material while staying true to the pieces of canon that came before it. I look forward to Aaron and Immonen tackling some prequel elements with that classic Star Wars feel.