By Boyd Reynolds | Staff Writer Published: 09/14/2013 10:00 am EST
Publish date: September 11, 2013 Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Princess Leia. She was the first woman I was introduced to who was filled with sass. She put Han Solo in his place, strangled Jabba the Hutt, and kissed her own brother. Sure, she didn’t know Luke was her sibling at kissing time, but still. In Star Wars #9, we are offered a Princess Leia with a little more depth.
Writer Brian Wood’s Star Wars comic series takes place after the destruction of the Death Star at the Battle of Yavin. Leia, haunted by the incineration of her home planet of Alderaan, has gone on a solo mission looking for a new hidden home for the Rebellion and has stumbled upon an old Star Destroyer from the times of the Clone Wars. Once on board, Leia has tea with a red haired older gentleman named Tag Rogaren. But Rogaren harbors a secret, connecting him to the Death Star and the destruction of Alderaan. Here, we are given more insights into Leia’s psyche after the loss of her home planet. She carries a great burden, having not been able to help her people and being forced to watch their obliteration. She also carries the weight of a Rebellion on the verge of falling apart if they cannot find a secret base. Wood gives us much-needed and deserved time with the first Princess of Star Wars. She’s presented realistically—a forceful leader carrying a ton of personal baggage.
Star Wars #9 quickly switches gears 10 pages in, as Han Solo and Chewbacca are being chased throughout Coruscant. It’s fun and exhilarating—what Star Wars is meant to be. Weaving in elements from The Empire Strikes Back, Han and Chewie are being pursued by Boba Fett and Bossk. Here, the panel selection is excellent, as the Millennium Falcon tries to evade both the hustle and bustle of Coruscant as well as its bounty hunters. Ryan Kelly’s artwork is great, connecting our images of Star Wars favorites with his own style. Perhaps the most fun is when Han and Boba Fett have an Old West-style standoff, blasters drawn, wind blowing in Han’s hair. It’s terrific foreshadowing events to come and a treat to see.
Creating a workable comic with multiple storylines is not easy, but Wood accomplishes just that. Adding to the two stories above, we are also exposed to an undercurrent of deceit in Darth Vader. Recently, Vader has left his post, one specifically given to him by the Emperor. To Vader, there is something greater working through him. One name he can’t stop repeating—Skywalker. He’s becoming obsessed with the young rebel, which plays out further when Luke and Wedge, doing recon work aboard a Star Destroyer, get caught. Once Vader hears that dreaded last name, he comes to understand there is something deeper going on. The Force truly is strong with that one. Vader has begun his path against the Emperor, culminating at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, where he asks Luke to join forces with him and destroy his master. The beginning of that turn is gripping stuff for a Star Wars fan like me and a joy to read.
Brian Wood has written a comic worthy of the title Star Wars. It’s full of action and thoughtful representations of characters we know and love. But most important of all, it’s loads of fun.