I’ve been saying for a while now that the currently running Star Wars comics have been particularly strong, and I’m happy to say the mainline Star Wars comic’s “Ashes of Jedha” plotline is no exception.
I really like going back and exploring Jedha after the events of Rogue One as a setting, I always enjoy seeing planetary updates that take place after a battle or occupation, but even those usually take place years or decades later and are short (such as when we see Umbara in the Thrawn novel or Cato Neimoidia showing up in Poe Dameron). This, however, addresses basically the immediate aftermath of the Death Star’s strike on Jedha, and I think that’s a really interesting setting to explore.
Also this comic has done a great job of really exploring and developing Han, Luke and Leia as characters between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. Being on Jedha naturally forces all of them to think about the Death Star on a regular basis, which allows us to understand their development in direct relation to the events of the film. The comic is incredibly accessible to anyone who has seen the films, unlike, say, the “Screaming Citadel” plotline, which was obscure, complicated and frankly, ill-suited to the characters (I honestly always thought it would be a great setting for say, a comic with Kylo, Phasma, and Hux, but a terrible setting for Han, Luke, and Leia).
I know I keep going on about the setting, but I really can’t get over how perfect this comic is for everyone in it. Leia is learning to be a little bit more compassionate by seeing the destruction of the Death Star first hand around her, and also can heal a bit over what happened to Alderaan by working to save a planet that was hit by the Death Star but can still be saved. Luke is able to explore and learn about the Force because Jedha is a holy place for the Jedi. Meanwhile, the partisans show Han his place in the Rebellion by allowing him to see that not having personal hatred for the Empire doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a place in the conflict, because the Rebellion needs people who aren’t just running on hate to make decisions that aren’t suicidal or dangerous, while simultaneously making it more difficult for him to not take a side by forcing him to look at what the Empire is willing to do to innocent people up close and personal.
I’m still not a fan of the art, honestly. Well, I’m not a fan of the way that people’s faces are drawn, at least. It almost feels like they’re cut out and put into the overall art style and its strange. I like the rest of the art just fine. I don’t really know why we made this choice. I guess because it avoids the risk of having a Han, Luke, and Leia who don’t look like Han, Luke, and Leia by having their faces drawn in an almost photo-realistic style, but I don’t know. I think I’d prefer the art look more unified, as I feel like this sort of ruins immersion. That being said, I would never say the art is bad and other people might not be as bothered by the inconsistency as I am. So, your mileage may vary.
Now, onto the major Star Wars nerd stuff. There’s not a lot, but spoilers for the full canon, as usual, just in case.
I enjoyed this issue for bringing a lot of the plotlines coming back together. Seeing Luke and Leia work together is always fun and we see a lot of development for Han in this issue as well. It’s clear that Han Solo has changed so much as a person by the time of Empire Strikes Back and I love moments in this comic where you see that change happening, and this issue is a great one for that.
I also have enjoyed watching Trios, even if she’s just sort of like you combined knock-off versions of Pryce and Phasma (which, she is, she’s a bitchy woman with a civil position in a suit of shiny armor who knows too much about mining). But, the thing is… I really like both Pryce and Phasma, so I’m sort of okay with it? She’s even doing what Governor Pryce would do, corner a rebel to arrest them in a situation that will inevitably end in a fist fight. I also love that everything she has is just covered in gold. It’s like who Phasma chromes everything but like… the flashy, rich person/royalty version. I still hate Commander Kanchar. I think he acts as if his rank is way higher than it is and I hate him for it. He’s gross. I hope Luke stabs him. End of story.
Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed this comic, in spite of my issues with the art style. It is absolutely perfect for someone who loves the movies but hasn’t invested in much of the extended canon. It’s a great introduction to Star Wars comics and a wonderful exploration of Han, Luke, and Leia as characters. Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Art: 4 Stars
Cover: 5 Stars
Plot/Relevance: 5 Stars
Dialogue: 5 Stars
(W) Kieron Gillen (A) Salvador Larroca (CA) David Marquez