Welcome back reader! It’s quite the time to be a Star Wars comic fan as every series goes full steam ahead. This round-up we have the official start of Crimson Reign, the second part in Charles Soule’s Star Wars trilogy and along with it come issues of Star Wars, Darth Vader, and Bounty Hunters that tie into this greater post Empire Strikes Back Crimson Dawn narrative. Finally, we are treated to another issue of The High Republic Adventures! All in all, this round-up is among the best, if not the best we’ve had. Some serious heavy hitters here, and not a miss amongst them, so what are we waiting for? Let’s jump in!
Crimson Reign #1
The Reign has begun! The series will be taking a more serialized approach to storytelling, covering one set of Qi’ra’s lieutenants and their respective missions in each issue. This issue, Chanath Cha and the Orphans, though we are teased to the objectives of each (as seen above). Everything about all of this is the best. Period. We get our first look at post Solo Qi’ra and Maul, and even if it’s just one small panel, the continuation of that story in any capacity means the world to me. Anyway, I for one totally forgot that Chanath Cha’s backstory was in Darth Vader (2017) and after this, I went back and reread issue #11 of that series, then went back and looked at this, and wow! What a cool character who flies totally under the radar of 95% of Star Wars fans. So, Chanaths mission, along with her team (which includes Imara Vex from the upcoming Star Wars: Hunters game) is to destabilize the criminal world as syndicates vie for the power up for grabs after the Hutt Councils execution. When visiting Black Sun, a certain Falleen Prince gets a mention, setting him up as a potential power player in this era. That’s right, the one and only Prince Xizor is now 100% canon (not from a cookbook like before)! It’ll be interesting to see how Shadows of the Empire potentially influences the rest of these stories, seeing as how it previously occupied this space in the Legends timeline. As I mentioned in a prior round-up, this story will be a tragedy up there with the Star Wars greats, Qi’ra’s tale is ripe with potential. Incidentally, the final words of this issue are “this story is a tragedy”, so I think I was on to something. Overall, great start and I will be there every step of the way as this tragedy unfolds.
Star Wars #19
Another Charles Soule work, Dangerous Turn brings this run back to Luke as he searches for answers to the mystery of the force. This tale of self discovery, even on its own, is a brilliant bridge of the character from Episode V to Episode VI. We get to see some of the highlights of his quest, including a trip to both Ilum and Lothal, the former of which is looking a lot like a certain hyperspace traveling laser weapon these days. Lothal on the other hand, is tranquil, at peace, a nice nod to the end of Rebels. The force on Lothal, how do you say, is simply built different and tells Luke Skywalker to take a hike. Ultimately the Journey takes Luke and R2 to Al’doleem, the planet where Jedi Master Infil’a resided in Darth Vader – Imperial Machine (2017). There Luke finds one of the few survivors of the massacre depicted in that arc, the character Colli, who actually does appear as a child in that earlier run. Soule has been creating a Star Wars universe of his own as of late and readers are definitely rewarded for having ingested his other works. Back to the issue though, the character work here is top notch. Luke is still struggling with his prosthetic hand, and subsequently how the force touches it, as well as the pull to the darkside. Its easy to forget that this is the same kid who took his lightsaber into the Dagobah cave when Yoda told him he wouldn’t need his weapons. That younger version of himself pops up here and there, threatening his path to the light. The end of the issue sees Luke recovering a holocron of Master Yoda from the local Imperial garrison, setting Luke up to move ever closer to Jedi Knight status as Return of the Jedi approaches. A great read, go pick this one up!
Darth Vader #18
This is the closest you can get to having a Legends comic in Canon, and I mean that in the best possible way. Allow me to explain. This issue in summary: An evil bird man (a chief regional auditor no less), who allied himself with the crime syndicate which is run by Darth Maul’s apprentice is working through the Empire to extort people in the outer rim. He is stopped by Darth Vader who then is viewed as a hero by a bunch of people who somehow don’t know who he is. Vader is then planning to manipulate and use these people as cannon fodder in his personal war against the Dawn and Palpatine. Also, there is a team of assassins led by Ochi which includes a big ball thing, a murder bug, and a droid. Oh yeah and Queen Amidala’s handmaiden Sabe is back and has joined Crimson Dawn to hunt Darth Vader. See what I mean? It is whimsically wonderful! Greg Pak and Leonard Kirk have delivered an incredibly fun start to the Darth Vader – Crimson Reign arc, avian auditors and all! Another fun tidbit that works to my Legends point; this issue actually canonizes the “Mongo Beefhead” design. What is that you may ask? Well, they were an alien species that have their origins in the mid-80s as a cancelled action figure, part of the scrapped The Epic Continues storyline proposed by Kenner at the time. Definitely do some research into The Epic Continues, super fascinating stuff surrounding ideas for the post ROTJ galaxy. So, talk about a deep cut. This is another one to check out for sure, a great entry into the Star Wars comic mythos.
Bounty Hunters #18
This weeks Bounty Hunters may as well be half of a Darth Vader issue too as the character takes center stage in Valances plotline. Galaxy’s Greatest doesn’t skip a beat from the last issue, immediately refocusing the main thrust of the story on Valances former Imperial zealotry to contrast with his newfound servitude. To do this, we are introduced to Tarl Sokoli, an Imperial war hero turned Crimson Dawn spy. By holding the lives of Valances loved ones against him, Vader forces Valance to lead Dark Squadron and hunt down this man he once idolized. Dark Squadron, from what I gather, is made entirely up of TIE Defenders (sweet) and led by Ochi of Bestoon (mega sweet). Ochi really gets around these days, and so does Vader quite frankly, but I suspect he was only here as the inciting incident, as he has is own matters to attend to. Meanwhile, T’onga and company get up to some fun hijinx. To put it bluntly, a legless Bossk decapitates a man. Legless Bossk decapitating a man will never not be entertaining in some capacity. As mentioned previously, this crew of rogues is a perfect blend. There is some tension though as Losha gets a bit blood thirsty, setting up a falling out or tragic end to T’onga’s relationship as the couple venture further into the dangerous world of bounty hunting. I can’t really recommend this issue if you haven’t already been following along. By #18, this plot is pretty in the weeds, but as a part of the Bounty Hunters story, this is up there for favorite issue thus far. Cheers to Ethan Sacks and Ramon Bachs for adding this down and dirty corner to the galaxy.
The High Republic Adventures #11
The Great Jedi Rubble Race is here and it did not disappoint! Daniel Jose Older has been able to capture the definition of “all-ages” very literally for his time on Adventures, and the stories are that much better for it. Oftentimes, with this comic category, the issues become relegated to rather basic tales for 5-7 year olds with simple stories and bland art. This series has been the farthest thing from that, it feels like Star Wars in its truest form: Able to be understood by children, but with the staying power to be for everyone at the same time. This particular issue intertwined the light of the Jedi (pun intended) with the evil of the Nihil, juggling the struggles of Lula and the duality of Zeen and Krix. The contrast of the underbelly of Corellia to the warmth of Starlight is making knowing the fate of the beacon in Phase two all the more tragic. The greatest tragedy though is one we should’ve seen coming…the victory of BUCKETS OF BLOOD! He did say there were no rules, so jokes on us.
And that’s this week’s comic Round-up!
On the next round-up, lots of High Republic! Every ongoing run in that era gets another entry, from Adventures to Trail of Shadows. Also to look forward to, Darth Vader #19, Dark Order! That sounds super pleasant, I’m sure everyone will be fine, especially all those people he called “expendable assets”. I hope we get to see what Sabe is up to, as we haven’t seen her since then end of Dark Heart of the Sith. Until the next one reader, may the force be with you!