This week we enter a new phase of Marvel’s titular Star Wars with writer Kieron Gillen taking the helm from Jason Aaron. If you have yet to dive into the Star Wars series but the prospect of 30+ issues of catching up sounds daunting, this would be a great issue to start with. It’s certainly not a reboot, but it’s sort of a restart and a fresh, new arc. The destruction of Jedha in Rogue One is still very much felt, even after the destruction of the Death Star. Our heroes have made their way to what’s left of the planet in hope of finding the survivors of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans and getting their help. SPOILERS AHEAD…
Things are looking pretty grim for what’s left of the Partisans. Not only are they scraping by on what’s left of Jedha after the Death Star’s attack, the Empire has returned to salvage whatever kyber might remain. This issue opens with a couple unfortunate freedom fighters in the last throes of a firefight with a squad of stormtroopers. Before the stormtroopers can finish off the Partisan soldiers, Luke Skywalker comes to the rescue in dramatic fashion.
Leia’s with Luke, and it doesn’t take much convincing for the Partisans to go with them. It’s become more and more clear in the canon that the Rebel Alliance and the Partisans are about as close to enemies as they could be while still fighting for the same cause, so it’s a remarkable leap of faith for the Partisans to follow Leia and Luke here. They don’t take too much convincing, being that a convoy of troopers is bearing down on them. Also, seeing Luke’s ignited lightsaber makes one of them wonder if he is a Jedi, which Luke confesses is something of a work in progress.
They all manage to dodge death and make it aboard the Millennium Falcon, with Han and Chewbacca at the helm. One thing that threw me off a bit was Sana Starros being mentioned in the opening prologue as along for this mission, but she doesn’t show up at all in this issue. Maybe she’s up to something else in the proximity of Jedha, but I fully expected her to be lending support or leading her own mission. Here’s to hoping she shows up soon, as she’s one of my favorites and makes a great addition to the team.
Well, the aftermath of the Death Star’s blast was much worse than what we witnessed in Rogue One. Jedha was cut to the literal core and appears to be coming apart. If the atmospheric conditions are any indication, the planet doesn’t have much time until it’s scattered across the sector. Luke and company have been camped out on a nearby moon, watching the planet spit chunks of rock and burn itself up. It’s another reminder how far the Empire will go to feed its monstrous industry of military conquest. And they haven’t stopped, as they continue to search for whatever kyber they can get their hands on, since we know somewhere in the galaxy the construction of another Death Star will soon be underway.
Meet Chulco Gi, who was once on the path to becoming a Disciple of the Whills. As I have yet to read Greg Rucka’s Guardians of the Whills novel (I know, you may commence throwing rotten tomatoes at me), I had to head over to Wookieepedia to freshen up my knowledge of their place on Jedha. They were one of the oldest “Force faiths”, and Chulco was never able to attain the status of Disciple, as it requires he meditate in the Sacred Temple. The Sacred Temple was destroyed along with the chances of Chulco’s attainment of enlightenment. Chulco is quite distressed by what’s happened to his home and his sanctuary, but nevertheless, he has faith in the Force. He and Luke make a connection as they look out over the scarred, sacred world. It’s my conclusion that Chulco is not a Partisan, only someone who is either helping them survive or was rescued by them. He doesn’t come across as militant at all. It’ll be interesting to see where his story goes. I’m definitely intrigued by what influence he may have over Luke.
The Partisan we get a big introduction to is Ubin Des. Ubin’s story is fascinating, as she’s native to Jedha, and was with the Rebel Alliance through the Battle of Scarif and the attack on the Death Star, but returned to Jedha to join the Partisans. She was a member of the Rebel Alliance Special Forces and came back to lend her skills in training what’s left of the Partisans. Ubin makes it clear the Partisans have never been interested in working with the Rebel Alliance. Leia tries to convince her that they are all threatened by the Empire and now, more than ever, they need to fight together. Ubin seems to agree to make an introduction to what’s left of the Partisans, but she doesn’t have much faith it will go well. Leia evokes the destruction of her own home world to try and connect with Ubin. Like with Chulco, I’m very interested to see what Ubin brings to the dynamic of the group, as well as how she serves as a go-between for the Rebels and the Partisans. She’s seen both sides and I’m excited a character with such a unique perspective has been introduced to the story.
Well, it wouldn’t be a Star Wars comic without a motley, cyborg Imperial commander striking fear into one of the lackeys the Empire seems to be in no shortage of when it comes to commanding Star Destroyers. Meet Commander Kanchar, who has arrived to take over the mission of mining the remaining kyber from Jedha (more on the young woman standing next to him coming later). Kanchar comes across as blunt an instrument as we’ve seen in the Imperial command structure. He certainly doesn’t have the eloquence of a Tarkin or Thrawn, but his method of relieving inadequate commanders from their post resembles a crude similarity to Darth Vader. Kanchar has a cyborg limb and an eye patch, indicative that this commander has seen his share of frontline combat. We don’t really get much of a look at him in this issue, but I imagine he will be quite a presence and cause some trouble for our Rebel friends.
If this regal looking young woman looks familiar to you, that’s because we’ve met her before in Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader (Annual #1, issues #16-19), “The Shu-Torun War”. This is Queen Trios of the planet Sho-Torun. I’ll be brief, but the Annual and arc covered a Shakespearian-esque struggle between the queen (crowned after her family was killed in failed plot to assassinate Vader) and the ore-barons of her planet. The Empire assisted her in subduing the would-be coup and the reluctant queen pledged her planet’s service to the Empire. Trios also shares the misfortune of having a hand removed by Darth Vader’s lightsaber. As Shu-Torun was an ore-rich world, she is here offering her expertise in carving up what remains of Jedha. I’m not entirely convinced Trios is “all-in” with the Empire. She was basically cornered into submission by them and it makes me wonder if she’s got something planned. I’d say we readers should keep an eye on her, as I could see her becoming sympathetic to the Rebellion and the remains of a world that hers could have easily shared the fate of. After all, one of the most glaring threats Vader made to her was when he presented her with one of the pieces of a destroyed Alderaan, demonstrating what happens to planets that don’t fall in line. I’ll say this: I’m much more intrigued with her popping up in this issue than I am with the new Commander Kanchar.
Back on Jedha, Ubin and Chulco lead Luke, Leia, and Han to the Partisans. The three of them agree to take the journey hooded, as they are assured they would be shot without hesitation if the Partisans think they know where their base is. Ubin pilots the Millennium Falcon to the surface and they are led before what remains of the Partisans and their new leader…
It’s Benthic! He survived! Wow…I’ll be interested to hear how he managed that and who else may have escaped the Death Star’s attack!
I’m very impressed with this issue and start of “The Ashes of Jedha” arc. I’m grateful for Jason Aaron’s contributions to the Star Wars series, but this issue is a great step in a more meaningful direction. I feel like there will be some very serious implications from whatever comes of this meeting between the Partisans and the Rebel Alliance. It’s great that Kieron Gillen is bridging the events of Rogue One and the Original Trilogy in this series. The story, set in the backdrop of a dying Jedha, with the ominous Imperial presence, should make for a great arc. I’m feel like we have some great Star Wars storytelling coming down the line here. Stay tuned folks!