In the previous issue, our heroes’ return to the Cloud City didn‘t go so well, to say the least. Luke is stuck in the giant garbage collector and no lightsaber while Leia is frozen in carbonite. Only Lando had some measure of success as he actually found Lobot. But, the opening of Star Wars #4 shows that thе problems have caught up with former Baron Administrator as the Imperial forces are closing on him.
While Leia isn‘t responding, Luke is buried in garbage and still looking for his lightsaber, Lando and Lobot are forced to deal with the situation themselves. Lobot‘s implants allow him remotely connect to the army of mouse (MSE-6) droids and use them to deal with the squad of stormtroopers. The duo Soule/Saiz gives us a scene that we collectively didn‘t know we needed in our lives – a droid version of Ewoks. Obviously they could already hear the complaints in their heads and made Lando comment on it. The fourth wall breaking was spectacular and I love it. Also, murder bots are becoming cuter and cuter.
As Lando and Lobot deal with the Imperial forces, Leia is being taken to the ship to be transported to the Imperial Security Bureau. Stuck in the giant garbage collector, Luke tries to get some information from the working Ugnaughts but to no avail. His last hope is to rely on the Force which sends him a powerful vision. He sees the past (Darth Vader, Obi-Wan) and the future (Yoda, Emperor). The vision of the mysterious Force user he saw before is presumably in the present and so is the revealed Leia‘s predicament.
After getting away from one group of Imperials, Lando and Lobot are intercepted by another patrol. As always, Lando tries to smooth talk them, but before he can’t get anywhere, the troopers are unceremoniously defenestrated by Luke‘s Force push. Luke tells them Leia is in a big hangar and asks Lando where that could be. Lando knows where that hangar is, they can also steal the needed ship there. He notices that Luke doesn‘t carry a lightsaber. Luke admits that he stopped looking because he realized that lightsaber doesn‘t make a Jedi. It‘s just a tool.
Back in a garbage collector which just collected a bunch of stormtroopers, one of the Ugnaughts finds Luke‘s lightsaber. Soule is starting to answer the question: How did the lightsaber ended up with Maz Kanata? I guess this is the first step.
In the hangar, Lando realizes that Leia is captured and that Luke is planning to attempt the rescue. It is a testament to Soule‘s writing and Saiz‘s artwork that I could hear and see this scene play out live; I could absolutely imagine it as a part of some The Empire Strikes Back extra. The humor is there and, once again, Soule absolutely nailed Lando‘s character.
When Lando describes the unfreezing process, Luke tells him to get ready. He uses the Force to unfreeze from carbonite not only Leia but others who were being prepared for the transport. He also disarms the stormtroopers and, naturally, Leia takes the charge. The freed people and our heroes make quick work of the stormtroopers and they are free to steal their transport. Luke recovers the X-wing in which he originally came to the Cloud City.
On the ship, Leia and Lando talk about their reasons for coming back to Bespin. Lando wanted to save Lobot, but also to disrupt the extraction of tibanna gas by polluting it and making the reverse process too costly for the Empire which is why they would leave the Cloud City. Leia wanted to learn about the carbonite freezing in order to save Han. I still think there were easier and less dangerous ways to do it but, as Lando said, she got first-hand experience as well as new recruits for the Rebellion.
The people freed from the carbonite are Cloud City citizens. They think Lando came back to save them by getting help from the Rebellion. They are grateful and consider him a hero. Once again, you can see on page the wheels turning in Lando‘s head – the first step to Lando we saw in The Return of the Jedi.
Luke bids goodbye to Leia because he decided to go after his vision and search for answers plaguing him since his encounter with Vader. Leia says he earned the right to ask for anything. The Rebels will wait for him.
Out of the four issues we got so far, this might be my favorite one. There are no big events, no big set pieces and absolutely no big reveals, which became requirement and plague of all Star Wars media in the recent years. On the contrary, everything is small and concerning character and everything is on page and doesn‘t require additional explanation. I don‘t understand this magic trick, but Soule and Saiz managed to absolutely capture the spirit of the original trilogy and, as creators, still get with the times since we are no longer in 1977. If they continue this way, when the big reveals come, they will absolutely blow our minds. Also, Soule knows the souls (I had to, sue me) of these characters and you can see it on every page. But, more importantly, you can see them grow in front of our eyes.
I don‘t know if I imagined this, so I am asking the readers to share their opinions in the comments, but it seems to me that Saiz‘s art is becoming better and better from issue to issue. Maybe it‘s the question of confidence, but I noticed it especially in the faces of characters: the micro-expressions which convey subtle shift in emotions are clearly depicted, sometimes to humorous effect.
All in all, even if it wasn‘t groundbreaking, this issue was excellent. As our heroes go temporarily on their separate ways, the future promises new, exciting adventures in the hands of this team. But, for now…
THIS ISSUE GETS 8/10 STARS.