Review – Luke Faces Trials and Some Hard Truths in Star Wars #5
While the world is still fighting against the pandemic, every piece of escapist entertainment is more than welcome. With Marvel returning slowly to their normal publishing schedule this means more Star Wars morsels for us. And this week’s Star Wars #5 is a true snack as duo Soule/Saiz begin the Luke Skywalker arc (The Destiny Path V) of the main Star Wars comic
The issue opens in a bar with a man bragging that he is Luke Skywalker hoping to get himself a job. Unlucky for him, one Dark Lord of the Sith is tracking the rumors about said rebel pilot. Needless to say, things don’t go well for the nameless pilot. Vader reminds the onlookers that claiming Skywalkers feats also means claiming his crimes against the Empire. The Imperial officer who led Vader there fares a little bit better and gets off with just a warning.
At the end of the previous issue, Luke said goodbye to Leia and his friends above Bespin to follow the mysterious visions and hopefully learn how to become a Jedi. We find him and R2-D2 approaching the planet Serelia where Luke hopes to find the woman from his visions. He finds the woman in what appears to be a charming fishing town and proves that you can take the boy out of the farm, but not the farm out of the boy. He might have lived through some galaxy-changing events, but uses the least subtle way to approach her and gets a pile of fish on his head for his trouble.
What follows is exciting chase across the sea, one of which James Bond would not be ashamed of, only instead of bullets, the battle is led by the Force and experience. Luke lacks the latter especially on the water, so he ends under it, while mysterious woman manages to reach the shore and disappear within the cave. The Star Wars MVP, R2-D2 saves the day again and the two find their way to the beach. And Soule doesn’t miss a chance for a joke.
Following the woman’s footsteps, the duo enters the cave. They soon realize that the cave is booby trapped. Luke bids R2 to stay behind in case he doesn’t come back, because someone has to inform Leia. So we exchange James Bond for Indiana Jones. Luke fights through multiple traps and feels confident in the light of similar training he underwent on Dagobah. Finally, Luke is caught in a cage which is being flooded by sea water.
Luke fights the incoming water until the woman stops it, calling him a fool for wanting to become a Jedi. Woman’s name is Verla and she can tell when people are lying and so she knows that Luke is telling the truth about his intentions. This means she is willing to talk to him, not necessarily in friendly way. She tells him that he only heard good things about being a Jedi, but doesn’t know anything about the inquisitors or the purge. She tells him about Order 66 that destroyed the Jedi order and dark force users who hunted the survivors. But their leader was a true monster, pure evil. Of course, she’s talking about Darth Vader.
Verla senses Luke’s reaction to the mention of Vader and grows suspicious again. She forcefully reads Luke’s mind and sees bits and pieces of his Cloud City encounter with Vader. Most importantly, she extracts the fact that Vader is Luke’s father. In spite of Luke’s protests, she reacts violently and once again releases the water completely flooding the cage.
The new arc begins with a fast paced issue, barely leaving a moment for contemplation. In many ways, it’s recapitulation of Luke’s character. He has come a long way from Tatooine during his stint in the Rebellion and his training with Yoda yet, in many ways, he remains the same, naive farm boy. His personality is in a stark contrast to Varla’s who just might be a prototype for Ahch-to Luke. There is no doubt in my mind that she was a Jedi, she even knows Yoda’s maxims. Her reaction to Luke’s arrival is not surprising: she survived the Purge and managed to stay alive for so long, she built a new life for herself and then this kid, monster’s son, brings all the past and danger to her door. I also quite like her character design.
It’s easy to predict that she will be as reluctant teacher to Luke as Luke was to Rey when she showed up. However, I see Soule’s idea of the Force choosing Luke’s next teacher and/or quest in order to further his abilities and I appreciate the sense of adventure which makes the issue exciting in spite of foregone conclusion.
As introductory issues go, “The Destiny Path, Part Five” is excellent: it’s fast paced and it makes you want to know immediately what happens next. It is tightly written and meticulously illustrated. It is the beginning of Luke’s journey to becoming the man we see in the Return of the Jedi, confident and powerful, but calm and empathetic.
To see what happens next, we will have to wait for September. Until then,
THIS ISSUE GETS 8/10 STARS.
CORRECTION: It was pointed to me in the comments (by Bob) that I missed Verla’s previous appearance as well as the fact that she wasn’t a Jedi only Force-sensitive. She appeared in Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith issues 14-17. I apologize for the mistake.
Coming next: Star Wars #6