Review: Marvel’s Star Wars: Age of Resistance Special #1 Takes Readers on Adventures with Maz Kanata, Amilyn Holdo, and BB-8
Like the previous two mini-series with the “Age of…” moniker, Star Wars: Age of Resistance is an anthology series featuring the various heroes and villains of that era. Also like the other two series, Resistance includes a special issue that collects three separate short stories starring a few heroes that, although they don’t get their own dedicated issue in the series, still had a story that the creators at Marvel thought was worth telling. Series writer Tom Taylor brings us a fun little team-up with Maz Kanata and the best-looking scoundrel in the galaxy (Han Solo also tags along), writer G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) reveals how Amilyn Holdo went from a career in politics to being a captain in the Rebel Alliance, and Chris Eliopoulos (Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers) takes BB-8 on an espionage mission to steal intel from the First Order. Spoilers ahead…
First up, let’s talk about Taylor’s “Maz’s Scoundrels”, my favorite of the three stories in the special. The moment you hear Maz Kanata calling out to Han Solo in her cantina in The Force Awakens, you become keenly aware that these two have a history, though apart from a single mission in the single player campaign in Battlefront II, we haven’t really seen any interaction between the smuggler and the pirate queen. Her flirty comments about Chewbacca in TFA also hinted at a connection that we have yet to explore.
We don’t really get to see the scoundrels’ first encounter with Maz in this issue, and the possible romantic fling between Maz and the famous Wookiee is still a bit of a mystery, but this little adventure shows readers the earliest encounter to date between the three outlaws. A reknowned collector of rare Jedi and Sith relics, Maz is after a particular relic that was stolen from her, and she hires the pair of smugglers to help get her hands on it. When Han asks Maz directly why she picked them for the job, she gives him two practical reasons. For one, they’re cheap, and for the other, the hit-and-run nature of the job would benefit from Chewie’s unique talent in hitting things.
She goes on to say that the ice planet they are heading to would also provide a perfect blank canvas for the best-looking scoundrel she’s ever seen. As Han begins to feel awkward, mistaking her comment to have been about him, she clarifies that she was much too old for him and advises him to come back to her when she can grow a coat like his friend, making eyes at Chewie. It’s still unclear what sort of history Maz and Chewbacca have had, but it seems to be definitely more than a little flirtatious chatter on Maz’s part. This is confirmed when Han asks Chewie about it and the Wookiee responds with “RRRR. RAAARGH. RRRR. GRAAARGHHH.” Naturally. But it’s Han’s response to his answer that tells us we’re probably better off not having a translation of that particular string of Shyriiwook syllables. I don’t know whether I love this or whether it makes me extremely uncomfortable, so for now, I’m just gonna roll with it and see how I feel in a day or two.
After breaking into the fortress of the thief and wannabe pirate king, Baron (a self-proclaimed title) Somareeva, Maz comes face to face with the pirate and his goons. After a small show of bravado where the pint-sized pirate warns them that they should all be very scared, not just because she could take them if she wanted to but because he was coming, the mighty Chewbacca comes barrelling through the room taking out the thugs with his bowcaster. In a team-up that reminded me of Rocket and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, Maz and Chewie work together to bring them down while Han is left outside wondering what the heck is going on. When all was said and done, Maz pays them handsomely for a job well done and we get a glimpse at the artifact she was after – a sith helmet.
(Edit: After posting this review, it was brought to my attention by Dermot Lane on Facebook that the helmet is nearly identical to the helmet worn by the Grand Inquisitor from Star Wars: Rebels. I spent some time looking at Sith helmets to find a match, but it appears I was searching in the wrong place. Even Maz’s comment about the helmet’s former wearer being a “Sith-serving sadist” seems to point to the helmet belonging to him. Thanks for pointing this out Dermot!)
There seems to be a lot of focus on Sith and Jedi relics lately, and I have to wonder if their importance at this point in time with the canon stories is directly related to something we’ll be seeing in The Rise of Skywalker this December. We can only speculate here, but for me, it’s always fun to see this aspect of Star Wars lore being explored, and this issue was a great little romp with three of the best smugglers in the galaxy.
The second story, “The Bridge” by Wilson, is a story about Leia’s old friend Amilyn Holdo during her time with the Rebellion. Up until this point in her story, Holdo was more a part of the political scene, being an apprentice Senator whose contributions to the Rebel Alliance had been limited to the occasional anti-Imperial speech that she would give. Now aboard a Rebel smuggling vessel, Holdo gets a chance to prove her worth when an Imperial Star Destroyer attacks them, killing their captain and locking onto them with a tractor beam in a scene reminiscent of the opening scene in A New Hope.
Taking charge of the situation, Holdo directs the officers to reorient the ship to fire into the bay of the destroyer. After this, she punches through the larger ship’s hull, breaking the tractor beam’s hold and destroying the Imperial ship in the process. This action earns her both the respect of the crew and the rank of “captain” in the Rebel Alliance. Apart from this more crucial aspect of her story, we also get a glimpse into her hair-coloring routine that results in the iconic hairstyle that she would have until the day of her death years later.
This story was okay, but I was glad that it was brief and relegated to the special issue as I’m not really a big fan of the character. I didn’t really need to see how she colored her hair, but I did appreciate how her move against the Star Destroyer helped set the stage for her action in The Last Jedi where she would one-up herself twenty times over, single handedly taking out the First Order fleet.
The final story in this issue, “Robot Resistance” by Chris Eliopoulos, sent BB-8 and Poe Dameron on a mission to steal important data from a First Order base. Poe serves a supporting role in this issue, with BB-8 taking the lead. Poe warns BB-8 not to get distracted, being very aware of the little guy’s knack for getting into trouble. All goes well until the ball droid witnesses some other droids being mistreated by First Order stormtroopers. Ignoring Poe’s warnings, BB-8 takes out the troopers and liberates his fellow droids. The other droids watch his back as he completes his mission and they work together to destroy the enemy base before heading back to Poe. BB-8 and Poe head back to base with the data and the added bonus of some additional droid support that Leia genially refers to as the “Robot Resistance”.
As StarWars.com journalist, Bria LaVorgna, points out in the book’s afterward, there is one simple truth in life: BB-8 is better than all of us. Much like his spiritual predecessor, R2-D2, BB-8 is the underrated and often under-acknowledged hero of the Resistance. But his best friend, Poe, knows what’s up, and it’s good to see the pilot give his little buddy his due in front of the General at the end of the issue. BB-8 is one of the best things about the sequel trilogy, so I always enjoy a chance to read/watch more of his antics in the galaxy far, far away. I was surprised that Eliopoulos didn’t illustrate this one himself with his unique cartoony style. But I think the intention behind the more realistic style was to set this story apart as one to be taken more seriously than his previous entries in Star Wars comics that were more comedic parody than actual canonical tales in the franchise.
I think the Age of Republic Special was probably a little better than the Resistance Special, but I enjoyed this one a lot more than the Age of Rebellion special which was mediocre at best and ridiculously silly at worst. The one-shot issue doesn’t do much to change the status quo or reveal anything planet-shattering, but if you just like reading fun Star Wars comics, you could do a lot worse than picking up this special. I enjoyed it for what it is, but I also want to be clear that this issue is by no means a must read. But if you’re a completist with Star Wars or you really love the characters represented here, you might find some entertainment in this issue.
Star Wars: Age of Resistance Special #1 is available now in a comic shop near you or online at Comixology. Happy reading comic fans!
Jordan Pate is Co-Lead Editor and Senior Writer for Star Wars News Net, of which he is also a member of the book and comic review team. He loves all things Star Wars, but when he’s not spending time in the galaxy far far away, he might be found in our own galaxy hanging out in Gotham City or at 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, NY.