Welcome to Life Day! This has definitely been the year to love this galactic holiday. From cookbooks t0 Disney Plus specials, this once obscure piece of Star Wars lore tied to the 1978 television special is now enjoying its time in the light. In this procession, Marvel brought out some the best writers in recent Star Wars comics, contributing to a Life Day tale spanning across time and the stars of a galaxy far, far away.
The story opens on a post-Return of the Jedi Batuu, with Han and Chewie arriving to meet an old friend in hopes of earning some credits. It’s not clear how far we are beyond the original trilogy, but Han’s turned back to his smuggling days, and they are Falcon-less. Both of them need a little rest and breath of fresh, Black Spire air.
After picking up a Life Day orb from a local vendor, Han remembers his own family celebrating Life Day. Perhaps this is not long after Ben’s transformation, Luke’s disappearance, and the rift between him and Leia. There is a bittersweet thread throughout this story, seeing Han lament the life he could’ve had and the hope the big three felt at the end of the original trilogy. When Han spots members of Kanjiklub, he runs for cover, and we are given a bit of a history lesson about Life Day.
Nib Assek and her Padawan, Burryaga, arrive on Kashyyyk to investigate rumors of the Drengir spreading to the Wookiee home world. The population have been unwell, emotional turmoil is spreading and causing unease. Nib and Burry discover a wreath made of mysterious ornaments arrived around the same time as the unrest began.
The ornaments are Drengir spores, and the Jedi’s arrival awakens them. The Jedi are overwhelmed and need help from the surrounding Wookiees.
The Jedi corral all the spores, allowing the Wookiees a clear shot at them. Working together provides the community a collective opportunity to extinguish the foe. Nib is concerned about the arrival of the Drengir, and Burry seems to suspect this isn’t the last time Kashyyyk will face threats of the High Republic era.
After Han escapes from Kanjiklub, he runs into an old friend, Oga. A blaster pointed at Han by an old friend is nothing new, but this incident triggers a memory of why Oga may not be so thrilled to see him.
Han remembers a heist he and Chewbacca made, freeing some Wookiees while procuring some unpleasant weapons for Jabba the Hutt. The corrosive charges are in place, but after the Trandoshans insult Chewbacca, he storms their weapons factory and finds they’ve enslaved other Wookiees. Chewbacca eventually finds himself dueling with a Trandoshan on a catwalk over a sarlaac they’ve been feeding Wookiees in hopes of harvesting its toxins. Chewbacca ends the battle, but not before he and Han take a tumble. Luckily, there is a helping hand.
We learn the Wookiees used the same weapons facility, but as a medical treatment center instead, engineering different medicines. Han and Chewie return it to the Wookiees while clearing out the munitions and preparing them for Jabba, who will get a bargain price while further putting the duo in the Hutt’s good graces. We return to the present, and Han has a few more Life Day memories to dive into while Oga has a blaster pointed at him.
In this occasion, he remembers a more recent time. Han was concerned about Chewbacca’s morale, so Threepio stepped up his role in a mission they were on so Chewbacca could get back home for Life Day.
On the planet Kudo, a group of local freedom fighters are trying to rid the planet of an Imperial guard. They use children’s songs to communicate, and Threepio lures the guard in an empty warehouse, allowing Chewbacca to intervene and knock them out. This fortifies the trust between the Rebels and the Kudons, giving them another ally in the fight against the Empire.
Again, this issue is very bittersweet, especially when we know what these characters will face later.
Back at Oga’s, Kanjiklub catches up with Solo. Oga decides to help his old friend and offers them an exploding orb, giving Han time to blast the members. Once they are out of the way, everyone can go back to celebrating Life Day. That is, until us readers get a glimpse of what is growing on the ceiling of Oga’s.
So… there is a Drengir spore, alive and well, on Batuu. This could either be a cute Easter egg or a major hint of problems the New Republic will be forced to deal with in future stories. At this point, I won’t make a prediction, but it would be interesting if the Drengir showed up in this era. We’ll see what these seeds sprout in future stories!
Writers Justina Ireland, Jody Houser, and Steve Orlando all contributed to this story, plotted out and structured by Cavan Scott. While I enjoyed the collaboration, some of the transitions were sloppy, and the flow may have benefitted from a few less cooks in the cantina. Nevertheless, it’s a cool project for the holiday season, and I hope we can look forward to these once a year. Maybe we’ll get a Life Day story from characters across Star Wars. If 2021 is any indication, this tradition will likely continue, and I welcome it.