Brian Wood‘s Star Wars comic from Dark Horse persists in delivering the punches, with a flavor that will make you hear John Williams’ soundtrack as you read. Recovering from a less-than-stellar episode a few issues ago, Wood has positioned our heroes in a variety of settings, magnifying the risks, and exploring character interrelations where possible.
The Rebel Alliance is in a dire situation as it’s believed a spy is in their midst, tipping off the Empire of their locations and operations. Princess Leia, along with Luke Skywalker, and Wedge Antilles form a new Stealth X-Wing squadron, to take on black-ops missions in an effort to root out the mole. Han Solo and Chewbacca, meanwhile, are on a separate mission for Mon Mothma in the heart of the Lion’s Den: Coruscant aka Imperial Center.
Star Wars #9 opens with Leia returning to the ruins of Alderaan to observe a private moment of remembrance. There she comes across a hijacked Star Destroyer from the Clone Wars era, with one passenger: a lone Alderaanian who is seeking to preserve elements of his planet’s culture and history. But there is more to this character than meets the eye, and Leia’s astromech droid’s concerns are not without reason.
Meanwhile, Luke and Wedge are on an undercover operation of their own: being incarcerated on an Imperial Star Destroyer, with the objective to escape and insert some kind of spying bug (we’d probably call it spyware) on the computer systems. But Darth Vader has been alerted to their presence, and he has dispatched a spy of his own that will provide further risk for both heroes.
Elsewhere, on Imperial Center, a planned hidden escape from the planet (with help from a garbage-barge pilot called Perla) has failed – where Han Solo and Chewbacca find themselves under an onslaught from the bounty hunters Boba Fett and Bossk.
Brian Wood’s writing continues to excel in Star Wars, with an underlying theme of “calculated risk” permeating from the previous issue into this one. It’s almost a mythical premise where, once separated, our heroes are faced with some form of baptismal challenge that they must risk – a challenge that will most likely have profound long lasting effects on them.
The recent issues of Star Wars have read (to me, at least) like individual episodes of a TV series. As opposed to some series that have standalone adventures, Wood’s Star Wars has a longer plan in mind, with story arcs containing multiple threads that, I suspect, will have long-lasting effects in the run of the entire series.
But there are also some nice singular moments too. At one point during issue #9, Wedge finally beholds first-hand Luke’s developing skills with the Force. His reaction is priceless, and gives another nice, though minor, inner look into the thoughts of a character that has been much-loved by fans for decades.
The artwork in Star Wars #9 is also of excellent quality. The team of Ryan Kelly, Dan Parsons, and Gabe Eltaeb continue to deliver an interesting mix of personal styles, good character likenesses, and tributes in frames to the older Star Wars comic books and comic strips, without sacrificing quality.
The artwork in this issue, in my mind, is an improvement upon the previous one, in which there were some moments that just didn’t gel properly with the script and came across as confusing or abstract. Not so in issue #9: the action is plain and clear, and the stakes are high.
The ending of Star Wars #9 is a cliffhanger across the board. You’ll be left wanting more, to see what happens to our heroes, as they are separated in singular challenges across the galaxy. While several issues ago we saw a decline and fall in quality, Wood’s creative team have made a masterful recovery, delivering an exciting chapter that truly captures the spirit of the Star Wars universe. Fans will love this one, and I imagine casual comic readers will get a kick out of it too.