Review – Han Will Work Shirtless For Beer In Marvel’s Star Wars #57
First, I want this cover by Jamal Campbell framed and in my living room, preferably over the fireplace. The best thing about this American Gothic homage is that it fits with the story of this issue. Honestly, this issue was like comfort food and everything fun I look for in a Star Wars story. We find our heroes on a strange new planet, hosted by an isolationist commune, and for the first time in several issues Leia, Han, and Luke get a chance to catch their collective breath without the Empire hot on their tails. SPOILERS AHEAD….
At the end of the previous issue, we found our heroes lounging about on a pleasant patio after being escorted there by a group of masked figures. To catch up, Sana Starros dropped Leia, Han, and Luke on the isolationist planet Hubin to avoid a Star Destroyer that had just shown up in their vicinity. Meet their host, Thane Markona, who we’ll get to know much better throughout this arc. This is issue serves as a great introduction to his community, Clan Markona. Personally, I love it when we meet a new culture that stands apart from anything we’ve seen in the Star Wars Universe. Sure, these people aren’t Mandalorians or anything super impactful (that we know of), but I like seeing that there are worlds that exist outside of the conflict between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire.
Markona is practical with the introductions and only wants to know his new guests by their first names. Leia doesn’t seem to have a problem with it – or at least she acts like there’s no problem – while this makes Han and Luke nervous. Their host’s reason is that he doesn’t want to be put in a situation where he’d have to give someone information about them. Ignorance about his guests seems to be his preferred disposition. Despite being an isolationist, I get the sense Markona is well aware of the war raging in the galaxy and probably has an idea which side his new guests are on. I wonder how his views will evolve as he gets to know them better – or if their enemies come looking for them on Hubin.
Our heroes come to find that getting off Hubin is not quite as easy as it was to get there. Unless Sana comes back to get them soon, they are going to be waiting for a supply ship. Some might welcome the predicament as a way to clear their head, but there’s an urgency to get back to saving the galaxy from the Empire that won’t allow our heroes that rest. Luke is anxious to find out when they can board a trader ship, as I imagine Han and Leia are as well.
Meet Tula Markona, Thane’s daughter. After delivering the bad news that a ship won’t arrive at Hubin for five months, she lets them know that a lunch has been prepared. Han catches that Luke’s jaw hit the floor when Tula walked in and teases him for a second. Personally, I’m all for a Luke Skywalker romance (especially one that doesn’t involve mouth-kissing his sister on Hoth) and I hope we get one somewhere in this three-year period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back or post-Return of the Jedi. This titular series has already done a great job of adding Jedi-esque experience to Luke and I look at him completely different when I watch The Empire Strikes Back. I don’t think a little romance would hurt the character at all and it would serve to underscore his eventual break from Jedi dogma. Just a thought.
Lunch is over a conversation of how Clan Markona came to be on Hubin. For Luke, the extravagance of Thane’s lifestyle doesn’t add up. Thane says they chose Hubin and came to the planet with riches they’d already made. Luke presses him to see if Thane got those riches in service to the Republic or the Empire, and predictably, Thane dodges the question by explaining he makes no distinction. I’m sure there’s a large part of the galaxy that’s indifferent to the Empire at this point, but as we will later see in this issue, the fact that the Empire built the Death Star has certainly turned some heads. Thane assures Luke that Hubin is sef-sufficient and prosperous without having to aid or be aided by Empire. Obviously, we are not getting the whole story, so I’m curious to know more about what prompted Thane to retreat from the galaxy.
We get our first look at the rest of the Clan Markona from Tula. As I mentioned earlier, she asks Luke about what became of the Death Star she’s heard of. Luke tells her the Rebel Alliance destroyed it and this seems to make Tula happy. She seems secretive about the fact she’s even aware of the Death Star, so keep your eye on that. Maybe Tula is getting a bit anxious to see the rest of the galaxy, something Luke can no doubt relate to. They come upon two men fist fighting, but Tula informs them that Clan Markona has a bloody history and a simple fist-fight is their way of resolving conflicts to avoid grudges that fester. As Luke and Tula continue on, Han catches a glimpse of a more familiar environment.
Han ventures into the local tavern and quickly finds out that the cost of goods is paid for through services. I love that Han has become the resident “sauce monster” of the trio. Between the flask he dusted off in the previous arc, the cocktails he’s been downing the past issue, and now his hunt for beer – it’s safe to assume our favorite smuggler likes to indulge. Not surprising, but now it’s canon!
Thane reappears to interrupt Tula’s tour and takeover, just as she’s about to discuss her father’s history. He wants to be the one to tell the tale. While lamenting about his inability to be an understanding father to Tula, Luke mentions his father was killed in the Clone Wars. That leads Thane to take look to a family plot of his own family members who were killed in the Clone Wars.
Meanwhile, Leia comes upon Han making the payment for his beer. I guess the climate on Hubin is…uh…a little warm. If they ever were to put smut books into the Star Wars canon, you know the $5.95 ones your lonely relative picks up at the grocery store, I think this would be a great cover. Looks like Han keeps up that core work in a galaxy far, far away.
As Thane reflects on the lives lost in war, Luke probes for more. Thane says that he was a fighter, but just as he’s about to go into his story, they are interrupted by a droid. There’s a predatory animal called a thanrax stalking a family in Clan Markona. Thane asks Luke to join him. In Thane’s residence earlier, we saw several taxidermy heads, so it’s clear the man can hunt. There was even one of a rancor.
It’s like a grizzly bear meets a rancor. We saw these in the previous issue, but this gives their size better scale. Artist Angel Unzueta continues to shine in this issue, bringing a unique environment and culture to life in each frame. I loved the art here and the contrast between the pages is great. The look of this issue is very dynamic. Even though they are about to face-off against these beasts, Luke still wants to know the story behind Thane. He promises to tell Luke, but in the meantime, Thane is going to take care of some business.
Two things: I want to see Thane use these and I want to know his history, which I presume in part to be fighting in the Clone Wars with them. For now, we wait.
This issue felt very refreshing. It’s nice to see our heroes in a very different environment doing semi-normal things. Han’s chopping wood and having a beer. Luke’s got a crush. Leia didn’t get much time in this issue, which is my only complaint. Writer Kieron Gillen did a great job of setting up an element of mystery in the rather mundane setting. I’m very intrigued by Thane and can’t wait to find out what his story is. The prospect I’m most excited about, though, is a romantic arc for Luke. Judging by the cover of next issue, I think I may get my wish.