Let me start off by saying that if you haven’t been reading the comics up to the two #6s that released today, as well as the other two series, you’re doing yourself a tremendous disservice as a Star Wars fan, and as a fan of cool art and storytelling as well. Now, I’ll level with you that I wasn’t as on-board with the comics upon first hearing about them as I was with other new canon options like the novels and Rebels, but I’d decided to really go all-in with the “new EU” this time around (I was more of a “take off my shoes and dangle my feet in the water” kind of guy with the previous EU) so I bought the first issues at my local comic shop and was more or less immediately captivated, especially with the Darth Vader series. That said, the Star Wars series has really picked up over the last two issues and taken over the top spot…but the synergism with these two #6s is really an impressive feat, and a real testament to the kind of continuity the story group is capable of. Alright, that’s enough gushing about Marvel, et al., let’s get into the stories. And, yeah, there are major spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t been reading the comics then shame on you, go do that and come back…you slacker.
Darth Vader #6:
I was a little skeptical about this whole cyborg storyline at first…and a lot skeptical when we saw the giant, flying space whale ship things…but it’s come together in a way I can appreciate, even more so after reading Lords of the Sith and seeing the way Palpatine seems to be constantly testing and checking the loyalty of Vader…making sure he’s staying firmly rooted in his apprentice position. The life of a Sith is a life of never resting on your laurels and sleeping with one eye open…just ask Plagueis. The cyborgs also won me over with the Mon Calamari General Grievous because, yeah, that’s at the same time somewhat hilarious and somewhat completely awesome, and it’s a nice homage to the prequels that, as a prequels fan, I can definitely get on board with (this will be even more evident later). Another nice aspect of the cyborg story is that they didn’t resolve it right away by just having Vader take them all out, but they also didn’t linger on it and draw it out…they brought it up, built it up, had the Emperor give his ultimate goal of only needing one as a replacement, and then left them and the audience wondering how it’d turn out…and then they went and did something stupid…stupid awesome.
Every panel after you see “Later.” in blue in the upper left-hand corner is a thing of beauty that just keeps building on itself and upping the ante and intensity and emotion of the issue. I’m not ashamed to admit I felt a little moisture roll down my cheek as I was reading it, absorbing the meaning, the simultaneous revelations Vader was having, the pangs of Anakin still existing inside that mechanical prison…I absolutely loved the way they weaved the flashback panels into the present…I could literally feel the anger growing. And then you see the crack in the glass, a flashback to “…you killed her,” a present shot of the uncontrollable shake of a too-tightly clenched angry fist, and then BAM! You see he’s wrecked the room he’s in and almost destroyed the glass viewport of his ship, and you’re transported back to that moment when, in my opinion, he fully becomes Darth Vader by Frankensteining off his upright medical bed and destroying the room he’s in with the Force…the Force and pure anger…that panel and the build up to it was a little bit magic. And to top it all off, the utterance of one word: “Skywalker.” In that moment he decides that he knows his fate. He immediately contacts the Emperor, lies to his face about how he knows his place and understands their relationship, and then gazes out his spider-webbed viewport and relishes in the idea that he is destined to rule the galaxy as father and son, just as he says to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back. I hesitate to say it’s perfect, but it’s pretty damn close.
Star Wars #6:
I want to start by saying I love the way they’ve been doing the back-and-forth storytelling between Luke and Han & Leia in the last two issues. It really harkens back to ESB and the way we skipped between Luke learning to be a Jedi on Dagobah and the rest of the cast running into their various trials…it’s a very good way to give the story a real Star Wars feel without being heavy handed or trying too hard. I also really like the clever way they got around Luke battling with Boba Fett without then recognizing him in ESB (I didn’t come up with this on my own; honestly, I was too enraptured with the stories to even notice it could have been fishy, but thankfully there’s a smart answer right from the horse’s mouth on the mothership site). I think they did a fairly good job of having Luke be partly accidentally impressive in said battle, and partly having it involve the one little bit of Force training he did receive. They also did a good job of making Boba Fett seem like he was lightyears ahead of Luke in ability while at the same time making it seem like he was taking Luke’s ability for granted and like he was a little outside his element in having to bring him in alive (“no disintegrations”). Overall it was an effective exchange that leaves us with a lucky Luke escaping with Obi-Wan’s journal and a promise of both him and the audience learning from the many stories within, and a close call Boba Fett that only has a name to deliver to his employer…but that name ends up being enough to start off the chain of events mentioned in depth in the section above. As I mentioned, the synergy in these two issues is amazing.
Now, meanwhile back through the electrical storms, Leia is head over heels for the lush environment she finds herself on and thinks immediately that it could be a suitable place for a new rebel base…and Han goes to find his stash of Corellian wine so he can try to woo the young princess…sounds about right to me. Then we see Han wearing his wine offering on his face and Leia storming off (yes, pun intended) only to hear that a ship has decided to brave the storm and come after them…and then we get this:
Okay, so…raise your hand if you saw this coming? Alright, anyone with their hand in the air is a liar…just saying. This was legit, jaw-dropping for me. I think I had to read it at least three times before it actually set in and I could start to process it…and I still don’t know what I think, aside from it’s crazy and I can’t wait to find out where they’re going with it. But, since we don’t know yet, I’ll hypothesize:
1) This is a cliffhanger moment that’ll be resolved quickly after the Obi-Wan side story, but they wanted something to keep you thinking about the main story and what this introduction could mean…it seems to me that this woman is portrayed as a bounty hunter, an occupation that doesn’t carry with it a reputation for being an honest individual…I think she’s guessing that if she uses the “wife” angle that the other woman with Han will get angry because Han’s probably been seducing her and storm off (I did it again, not as punny this time though) so she doesn’t have to fight 1 versus 2. A clever ploy by both her and the writer to keep us wanting more.
2) She really is, well, was Han’s wife, but the relationship dissolved, probably because Han is a bit of a womanizer, and she’s bitter because she was done wrong…and I don’t mean done wrong in a “poor victim” kind of way, but more in a Kill Bill kind of way…i.e. in a bad ass way.
3) They were married, had a kid, and named him Finn…BOOM! I know, I know, I’m kidding, the timing is all wrong, and, even if it wasn’t, that would be ridiculous. It’s clearly Lando’s sister and the “you got a lot of guts coming here, after what you pulled” line stems from Han marrying and then bailing on his sister. See, I made it better…and you were worried…
In conclusion, you get two fantastic stories, one great revelation the Saga had been missing, and one hell of a cliffhanger…not to mention we’ll soon get to travel into the mind and memories of Obi-Wan Kenobi…so, yeah, not bad for what amounts to less than $50 if you buy all six issues digitally. Definitely money well spent. I’m going to go come up with more Sana Solo theories…if you have any of your own, I’d love to hear them, but, for now, may the Force be with you…