This week, the women of the Resistance take the spotlight with Tom Taylor and Ramon Rosana’s Star Wars: Age of Resistance – Rey #1 and Rose Tico #1. Kyle will be taking a look at the Rose issue later, but first up, let’s dive in to this week’s issue focusing on the sequel trilogy’s Jedi hero, Rey, the last hope of the Resistance. Spoilers ahead.
At the end of The Force Awakens, Rey boards the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca and R2-D2 and sets off for the planet Ahch-To, where she hopes to convince Luke Skywalker to come to the aid of the Resistance. On screen, we only see about twenty seconds of travel time between D’Qar and their destination, and the way these scenes are spliced in the film, one gets the impression that their journey there was pretty uneventful. But as it turns out, the trip was far from the casual stroll through hyperspace that is implied in the movie.
At first, I felt like Taylor was stretching it a bit with this one, but then I remembered that this is actually what makes Star Wars comics so fun in the first place – the way that they take small moments in the movies and flesh them out or fill in the gaps between scenes that you may not have even realized were there. And as I think about it, even though it feels a little strange watching the movie knowing that all that happened in this issue transpires between those few seconds of transition between scenes, it really does make more sense than I thought initially.
It’s already been established in Star Wars that hyperspace travel, though super fast, is not as instantaneous as it appears on screen most of the time, but nobody really wants to see the hours or even days of mundane boredom that the characters endure as they head for their destination. So what exactly did happen to Rey and company on their way to Ahch-To? We’ll get to that, but first, let’s talk about the opening pages of the book that actually happen just before Rey climbs aboard the Falcon with Chewie and Artoo.
The issue opens in a sort of meta acknowledgement of the scene that J.J. Abrams himself has admitted regret over not including in the movie. When Rey, Chewbacca, and Finn arrive at the Resistance base, Chewbacca walks right by Leia without the two of them even sharing so much as a glance at one another. Abrams reasoned that Chewbacca was focused on saving Finn, but he revealed in his commentary of The Force Awakens 3D Blu-Ray that his biggest regret was that Chewie was visible in the frame, walking by Leia just before she and Rey, a girl she has never even met, share an embrace. He admitted that it’s a bit of a distraction that the two old friends don’t share a hug, something they would have most likely done after Han’s death.
But in the opening pages of this issue, Taylor rectifies that mistake as the general and the Wookiee share a private moment together. As the two of them embrace, Leia lightens the mood by joking about getting Chewie’s fur all wet with her tears, stating that no one wants the smell of wet Wookiee hair in there. It’s a beautiful moment with Leia being Leia, accenting the casual humor and the close trust that the two of them have shared over the years. My mind went to two places while reading this scene. The first was when the two of them embraced in the freezing chamber on Cloud City as Han was being encased in carbonite and the second went even farther back to the moment that Leia called the Wookiee a “walking carpet” in A New Hope. I feel like no one else in the world could talk to Chewie the way Leia does (except for Han, of course), and it was just a really great thing to see in this issue.
Leia is the one to convince Chewie to go with Rey to Ahch-To, something I didn’t really know before. I just assumed that he had taken a liking to the girl (which is probably also true), but seeing that he was going as more of a favor to his old friend adds a bit of clarity to what seems like a simple situation of convenience in the film. Chewie went with Rey because Leia asked him to, and I love that.
The next few panels were also filled with emotion as Leia meets with Rey before she sets out on her mission to find Luke. She felt what had happened with Han and her son Ben through her connection to the Force, but in an effort to bring more closure to her loss, she asks the girl to recount what exactly happened with her family on Starkiller base. Rey cries as she tells Leia about how Han went out to Ren defenseless, perplexed that he would put himself in such a vulnerable situation. In her opinion, Han never should have faced him alone. He should have run.
Leia explains that Han’s first instinct was always to run but that he also knew when to make a stand. This is the theme that Rey will be facing herself as the issue goes on. Knowing when to run. When to make a stand. Leia reminds her that she is no longer alone in the galaxy. She’s part of something now, and she carries the hope of the galaxy with her wherever she goes. As the Falcon lifts off, we get one final moment with Leia, as Poe asks the general if she thinks Rey will find Luke. Leia knows that she will, but in a scene mirroring Luke’s departure from Dagobah in Empire, Leia tells Poe that Luke is not the only hope for the Resistance. Sure, Leia wants nothing more than to find her brother, but a new hope has arrived in the form of a young girl from nowhere, and her name is Rey.
As Rey and Chewie travel through hyperspace, they quickly run into a serious problem. The alarm blares telling them something is amiss, and before they know it, their systems are being overloaded. Rey questions how they could have hit something in hyperspace while Artoo reminds her of the complications in charting a course through uncharted space, and in a moment of levity, Rey questions who programmed the droid with attitude.
Oh child…you have no idea whom you’re dealing with. One did not simply program the little astromech with attitude. This little guy has been around since at least a decade before the Clone Wars without a single memory wipe. If he acts like he knows it all, it’s because he does. If he seems to be a little opinionated, that’s because he is, and he’s more than earned his right to those opinions. Artoo is the embodiment of attitude. He…is…the best. But I digress (steps down off of soap box).
The trio is forced to exit hyperspace and Chewbacca says something about the compressor that Rey had bypassed earlier, but she clarifies that she was just improvising with that and that it was hardly intended to be a permanent solution. But as they would soon find out, there’s a much darker reason for the ship’s malfunction, one that wasn’t brought on by Rey’s failure as a mechanic or the ship’s integrity.
Coming out of hyperspace, Artoo tells Rey about a nearby junkyard planet called “The Necropolis”, which I’m pretty sure means “City of the Dead”, so that’s not ominous at all. But in desperate times, one can’t be choosy, and they needed to find some parts or they would never be able to reach Ahch-To.
On the surface of the planet, Rey meets the world’s overseer, an arachnidian alien named Ara-Nea (a little on the nose, but okay), that is all too happy to allow her to scavenge for the parts she needs. After selling her a ridiculously priced scavenging license in an act of pure highway robbery, Rey descends into the world of junk, leaving Chewie and Artoo behind to watch the Falcon. She was allowed to carry whatever she could out of there, but she had to do so on foot. After quickly finding exactly the parts she needed, Rey begins to really grow suspicious of the whole situation. Something about this operation didn’t sit quite right with her.
The junkyard was an embarassment of riches, and the Resistance would love to get their hands on the equipment ripe for the picking on the planet. But soon, the catch becomes obvious as a massive creature bursts forth from the depths to challenge the young Jedi like a dragon guarding its hoard of priceless treasure.
They had been set up. As Rey would discover, Ara-Nea had set a trap for them, causing their ship to malfunction and luring them to the junkyard world. The jawa-like workers were actually his slaves, and he had no intention of ever letting them leave the planet alive. But the alien greatly underestimated his prey, a fact that he soon realized when Rey arrives back at the platform in a Firespray-31 attack craft (the same model as Boba Fett’s Slave I).
She challenges the overseer, who then forgoes all attempts to appear amiable as he tell’s Rey she has nowhere to run. But while she took a page from Han’s book when she ran from the beast, she remembered what else Leia had said about her short-lived mentor. Han knew when to make a stand, and now it was clear to Rey that she must do the same.
Using the mind trick ability that she discovered on Starkiller base, she forces her enemy to back down. Back on the Falcon, she apologizes to Chewie for the length of her scavenging trip, casually explaining that she had to overthrow a vicious despot and install new leadership on the planet along the way. “You know what that’s like,” she said to her new friend. Rosana does a great job here conveying exactly what Chewie is thinking. We are given no translation of his Wookiee roar, but such a translation is not needed as his expression tells us all we need to know. The girl was all right.
Back in hyperspace, they continue their course to Ahch-To, where Rey heads up the rocky path to Luke Skywalker. As Rey holds out the lightsaber to the Jedi master, her former doubts have been replaced by new resolve. She was not alone. Not anymore. And she carried the hope of the entire galaxy with her.
I thought this issue was very well done. It’s a little heavy-handed at times, and I guess one could accuse it of catering a little too much to fan service, but I don’t mind a little bit of that sprinkled in my Star Wars from time to time. That Leia/Chewbacca moment was beautiful, and I didn’t realize how much I needed it until the satisfaction of it hit me like a ton of bricks. Taylor also did a great job transitioning Rey from the insecure and naïve girl we meet in The Force Awakens to the determined young Jedi-in-training that won’t take no for an answer in The Last Jedi.
This is a very strong entry in the Age of Resistance series, and I definitely recommend giving it a read. Star Wars: Age of Resistance – Rey #1 is available now in a comic shop near you or online at Comixology. Happy reading, Star Wars comic fans!