Lady Musashi, Hard Case, and myself have a very cool job in terms of our SWNN staff member duties. Each week, we get to pour over Marvel’s latest offering in the Star Wars Universe. Things have been kind of quiet in comic book world over the last couple weeks, so the three of us put our heads together and decided to each pick out a favorite issue of the past year. This week, we will be sharing those three picks with you. Lady Musashi kicks off The Best of the New Star Wars Comics…So Far.
Over the last couple of years, I have heard it said over and over again: “This is a great time to be a Star Wars fan.” It is true. It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when there was hardly any Star Wars content at all. Now, with the movies, TV show, books, comics, games, etc., even the most dedicated of Star Wars fans could get dizzy.
So, when Kyle proposed for us to choose the favorite comic issue of Marvel’s current run, my first reaction was: “How? How can I chose only one?” At its best, Marvel’s current run compliments, enriches and even redefines our understanding of the Saga. For example, I dare you to see the scenes between Lando Calrissian and Lobot on Bespin the same way after reading Lando mini-series. They take us into the head of the titular villain in Darth Vader series and make us see the person inside the black armor. But, like with most of the Star Wars related things, I had to choose with my heart. I chose the Marvel’s Star Wars #7 – From the journals of old Ben Kenobi, “The Last of His Breed”.
Marvel’s main title has had its ups and downs. On the upside, it builds the main characters’ backgrounds. For example, how could Luke hold his own against Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, when he never trained with the lightsaber, but only jogged with Yoda on his back and levitated some rocks? Marvel’s Star Wars has the answer. His search for the knowledge about the Force, the beginnings of Han/Leia relationship, the consequences of Alderaan’s destruction on Leia’s character could all be found here. On the down side, the series sometimes leads nowhere. The great “Sana Solo Freak Out of 2015” caused the panic in the Cantina and sent the ripples though the fandom. And then it dragged and dragged and… fizzled out. Let’s not do that again. Also, some of the artists had trouble to provide consistent artwork, especially when it comes to Han.
In between the story arcs, we are given the excerpts from Ben Kenobi’s journal Luke finds on Tatooine. Issue #7 is the first one. While the main story occurs during the period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, this issue gives us the first look at Obi-Wan Kenobi post-Revenge of the Sith. The issue does not necessarily move the story forward; it rather gives us the state of Obi-Wan Kenobi, now Ben, several years after he left Luke with Owen and Beru. And, it is not a great place.
Tatooine is suffering a terrible drought. Jabba the Hutt’s thugs are stealing water supplies from already impoverished farmers. The former Jedi observes and does nothing, because he has a mission: protect Luke Skywalker.
That doesn’t mean that inaction is easy for Obi-Wan. “You never trained me for this, master Qui-Gon.”, he says, “You never trained me to fade away.” Bianchi shows Obi-Wan’s frustration through close-ups of clenched fist and his tortured face. Still, against his better judgment, he is still trying to help in a small way.
But, when one foolish, brave boy gets himself in trouble, it is time for Obi-Wan to act. In the dark, without blowing up his cover. I think both Kyle and Hard Case said that action was very Batman-like and it is an apt comparison.
Aaron and Bianchi are telling a seemingly simple story; but it’s a story of transformation from Obi-Wan, Jedi General and man of action, to Ben Kenobi, a hermit and man of patience. In the beginning, the new life grates on Obi-Wan. He feels lost because he thinks he lost his purpose and he keeps berating himself for getting involved. He wanders the outskirts of a desert planet like a wraith, shadow of his former self. Bianchi’s art perfectly reflects this, rough around the edges like the setting and the man it depicts.
But, this is Obi-Wan Kenobi we are talking about. Like he cannot stay out of action for long, he cannot stay broken by past failures. Through action instigated by Luke, he accepts his responsibility and his heritage. He accepts the Jedi he needs to be here and now, on Tatooine. He finds – yes, I’ll say it – a new hope.
I too have much hope for the future issues concerning Obi-Wan Kenobi. We already got another one, in Marvel’s Star Wars #15 where we saw that he regained much of his inner peace and his humor. What I want is more of Obi-Wan’s learning about the Force and communing with Qui-Gon Jinn. In this issue, we see him meditate and in both issues he talks to Qui-Gon, but we never see his master answer. From The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions we learned about the tests one must pass to be able to become one with the Force. A New Hope tells us that Kenobi must have completed them. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to see his final trials? Considering his past, can you imagine what they might be?
Finally, as I said at the very beginning, this was not an easy choice. So, here are some of my runner-ups for the best issue: Lando #5, Darth Vader #6, Shattered Empire #1 and #4, Vader Down #1 and Star Wars Annual #1. I am looking forward to new stories yet to come, especially Poe Dameron comic by Charles Soule and Phil Noto.
This is a great time to be a Star Wars fan!