Brian Wood’s Star Wars is an interesting entry in the ever more bloated “expanded universe” of Star Wars tie-in media: rather than cater to followers of the larger EU canon, Star Wars assumes knowledge of the original trilogy only, tying elements together from A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi to tell a story set shortly after the destruction of the first Death Star.
This really is a series that honours the legacy of the classic films, feeling like an extension of the original trilogy—no more, no less. Darth Vader faces humiliation after the Empire’s loss at Yavin; Princess Leia mourns the destruction of Alderaan while scouting for a new home for the Rebel Alliance; Han Solo and Chewbacca find themselves no longer lone smugglers but rather part of the larger Rebel organisation. Most importantly, Vader learns the identity of a young Rebel pilot by the name of… Skywalker.
Somewhat controversially, Leia is depicted as an X-wing pilot right from the start. Can this be justified using what we know from the films? Wood argues in interviews that not only is Leia obviously trained in combat, she would be no less likely to fly a ship than she would be to drive a car in our world. And she pretty easily flies a speeder bike in the films as well.
It is jarring seeing Leia in an X-wing, however. She wasn’t in Red Squadron helping to destroy the Death Star, so why is she an X-wing pilot now? Well, this is a covert scouting mission (see also Return of the Jedi) not an attack, so there is a clear, qualitative difference here. Context is key.
In any case, this comic series is simply a direct tie-in to Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and on that level it succeeds handsomely. The art is striking, capturing the feel of the films instantly, even if characters themselves are often visually reinterpreted. And it’s just cool to spend a bit more time in that classic period between episodes IV and V, when the franchise itself was at its peak.
I remember that time, and I think that you might, too. For that reason alone, I can’t wait for Star Wars #11.
May the Force be with you…