While most of us know what happens in Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, if you haven’t been keeping up on this relatively new series, I’d stop read this review right now and pick up the first eight issues for two reasons. First, I am going to talk about some events that occur before Star Wars #8. Second, this is a fantastic series; you should read it. This series covers the five year time span between Episode IV and Episode V. The original Death Star has been destroyed and Vader is trying to regain the respect the Emperor has lost for him. Meanwhile, the Rebels are desperately trying to find a new home for their base. The Empire seems to be just half a step behind them the whole way. Every time X-Wings jump to a new sector for exploration, Star Destroyers and fighters appear out of no where, ready to fight. Prior to Star Wars #8, Leia organized a covert group of fighter pilots to take the new stealth X-Wings. C3PO has been encrypted and charged with protecting the missions because someone is leaking information to the Empire. Unfortunately, Leia and the Rebels have not been successful in discovering who the mole is. All the while, Han Solo and Chewie are on Coruscant trying not to get killed by bounty hunters. At the same time, Luke and Wedge are purposely trying to get captured by the Empire so they can sneak onto a Star Destroyer. This is some pretty intense stuff.
Okay, so that’s where Star Wars #8 begins and it does not disappoint. This issue might even be the best one yet! So much happens in this issue, it’s unbelievable. We have four… that’s right four, distinct stories running at the same time. We have Vader trying to stay in control, Luke trying to get arrested, Solo trying not to die and Leia on some secret mission. If you want action, suspense and intensity, Star Wars #8 is for you! I honestly couldn’t be happier with this issue or this series. The story is fascinating. Even though I have a general idea of what happens before Empire Strikes Back, the minute details are compelling. Brian Wood and his creative team have done a superb job here. What’s more impressive is that the constant jumping between stories and therefore, locations, is not confusing at all. In fact, it’s just a way to increase the intensity and suspense. The dialogue is easy to follow, though there is quite a bit going on. If any of the stories are confusing, it might be the Solo\Chewie arc. Because so much action is occurring around them, it can be a little difficult following the story at the speed it feels like Wood intends. The Solo\Chewie story arc seems to be designed specifically to show us exactly how amazing these guys are at getting out of no win scenarios while the best bounty hunters are on their tail. So what do we have going on in this issue? Well, Luke and Wedge get aboard a Star Destroyer and then have to get their plan in motion while Han and Chewie try to evade the Slave-I. Meanwhile, Darth is trying to stay in the know and Leia is on a more personal mission than we anticipated.
The illustrations, as they have been from issue #1, are truly spectacular. The feel of the characters and ships is spot on. Personally, I focus more on the ship designs. The Millennium Falcon, the X-Wings, the Star Destroyers, they all look so cool! It’s great seeing the classic ship designs in modern illustrations. Ryan Kelly (pencils), Dan Parsons (inks) and Gabe Eltaeb (colors) are an incredible team. Star Wars #8 proves that these guys are just getting better and more focused with each passing issue. If I have any negative to add at all, it would be with the cover art. Normally, this series has stand out, brilliant cover art but this issue is a different genre. It’s less polished looking, more rough. It’s not a bad cover but it’s not as sharp and impressive as the interior of the issue or the previous covers.
Overall, if you haven’t been reading this series, you are missing out! If you have been reading, Star Wars #8 will not let you down. I’m very excited to see what happens next and I’m curious how the story will change once our primary characters (Luke, Solo, Leia, etc) come back together and stand on the same ship again.
May the force be with you, always.