When Marvel took over the Star Wars license from Dark Horse, it was an exciting time. Star Wars comics returned to their original home, but now they were part of the official canon. To make things even more exciting, Lucasfilm announced the main series would take place between Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars Vol 1 Skywalker Strikes kicks that off with a bang.
The story begins with the core trio of Han, Luke, and Leia arriving at an Imperial weapons plant acting as a new supplier. Once inside the factory, they spring their trap and set the facility to explode. Vader arrives and fight for survival ensues.
Luke confronts Vader and it ends…quickly. Han and Leia interrupt the “fight” by stomping through the building in an AT-AT, leading to a great moment of Force prowess from Vader. The group (obviously) escapes, but not without severely damaging Luke’s confidence. He leaves the Rebels to explore Tatooine and find information on Obi-Wan.
Boba Fett catches up to him while working for Vader, but Luke lucks out and escapes. Meanwhile, Han and Leia scout for a new Alliance base. They take shelter from an Imperial patrol at one of Han’s smuggler’s dens, just in time for Han’s estranged wife Sana to arrive.
An Incredible Start
Star Wars Vol 1 Skywalker Strikes is an incredible start to the new Star Wars comic line. It feels like a Star Wars film, filled with a delicate balance of action, drama, and humor. Jason Aaron is one of Marvel’s star writers, and he handles George Lucas’s creation masterfully. What makes this initial story arc so strong is it tells a simple, in-character story that still manages to keep things moving towards the eventual arrival at Echo Base on Hoth.
This initial arc also stands out for giving more meaning to some of the fringe characters like Boba Fett. We get to why Fett has such a fearsome reputation how quick he is on the trigger. We also see that much of his skill is only reputation as he struggles and ultimately fails to defeat a blinded Luke. Perhaps his falling into the Sarlacc Pit wasn’t the out-of-character failure after all?
There IS Such Thing As Luck
Obi-Wan’s famous line about luck is proven more and more wrong in this story. Luke survives repeatedly on circumstance and lucky timing – twice with Vader during the weapons factory battle on Cymoon 1, and later in fighting Fett. He does channel the Force briefly to deflect a deadly blaster bolt, but all it does is stall the bounty hunter’s attack. Fortunately, that delay is just enough time for R2-D2 to hit the man in Mandalorian armor over the head with a stone book casing.
We also see just how unlucky the core group is throughout the arc, with Vader being the Imperial negotiator they are supposed to meet with, and later when Han’s nerves over Imperial entanglements break as Leia’s stolen codes are approved.
Not So High Stakes
A fundamental flaw of Star Wars Vol 1 Skywalker Strikes, and really all Star Wars comics set in the Skywalker Saga, is the appearance of high stakes that the audience already knows are not that real. This entire original trilogy comics run by Marvel has to contend with the reality that we know how the story ends. We know when and how Luke, Leia, and Han Solo all die. At this point in the timeline, they all have plenty of heroic moments to come.
While it’s still a lot of fun to see our heroes escape by the skin of their teeth, the idea that they’re constantly just barely escaping makes the story feel a bit unrealistic. Aaron handles the situation well by introducing new wrinkles like Sana’s appearance that adds to the drama without overdoing it. His writing also shines in delving deeper into Luke’s character post-Yavin. We also see this side of Luke in Kevin Hearne’s novel Heir to the Jedi. That novel released two months after the first issue of this arc hit shelves. It’s fitting that they both dealt with that subject.
If you’re new to Star Wars comics, Skywalker Strikes is a must-read. It gives you everything you’d want in a comic in general – incredible writing and strong art – while also being a solid Star Wars story.
I give Star Wars Vol 1 Skywalker Strikes a 9/10. The lack of stakes keep it from being perfect, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better opening story arc than this one.
For a bit of added fun, we had two of our kids read this comic and recorded them telling the story. The results weren’t quite accurate, but they were a lot of fun. View the video below and let us know what you think. If our readers & viewers enjoy it, we’ll keep making more!