Published: September 29, 2021
Rating: Rated T
Writer: Charles Soule
Penciler: Ramon Rosanas
Colourist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz and Rain Beredo
SITH LORD DARTH VADER has discovered that his son, Jedi Knight LUKE SKYWALKER, is finally within striking distance. He will pursue him to the very ends of space…Who is hunting whom? Meanwhile, LEIA ORGANA battles the forces of CRIMSON DAWN to regain her lost love, HAN SOLO.
Last issue of Star Wars was simply incredible, both for this series and the crossover event it is tied to, War of the Bounty Hunters. Soule left us with a surprise ending of Luke running away from his father, I’ve acting like a coward. In the issues that have followed on chronologically, we actually see that Luke is running away because he knows Vader will follow, that Luke isn’t ready to confront him directly. This shows a much more mature Luke, a Luke that is reminiscent of the character we see at the start of Return of the Jedi. With this sort of development, I cannot wait to see where Soule will take us now that we are back with the regular series…
We join the story with Luke trying to locate Vader and for me, this really shows the brilliance of Ramon Rosanas. Until I got to the bottom panel, I didn’t even see it, then reading through to that panel, I got goosebumps! It is extremely creepy, bringing that menacing nature back to Vader and it was excepted flawlessly. The rest of the comic is equally well illustrated, but that single moment is the keepsake of this issue. Rosanas illustrates these stories very well, the motion, the ships, the action, it all flows seamlessly.
But to the story itself. Anything written by Soule, and I expect a lot. As mentioned, we have seen Luke throughout this series and the the crossover maturing in leaps and bounds past the farm boy he originally was. From The Empire Strikes Back to Return of the Jedi, a period of only six months, we see a drastic shift, a confidence to Luke that occurs very quickly. This issue really highlights that. He is far more levelheaded and in control of his emotions. Vader, wanting to shake Luke a bit, mentions Han to try and illicit an emotional response, for Luke to make a mistake. Vader knows, as we do from this series, that Luke has been on an emotional rollercoaster and Vader wants to use this against him. Luke is able to keep a level head, to solve the problem of Vader and not be clouded by his emotions, showing his growth since The Empire Strikes Back. Yet Soule is very careful to have Vader mention Han, not Leia. Even in Return of the Jedi, we know that Leia is Luke’s Achilles heel, that Leia is the one, that no matter how much he has grown, that will undo Luke.
Although we can clearly see this growth in Luke, he is still not there yet. He still underestimates Vader and the power of the dark side. One moment he understands he is not ready but then the other thinks Vader is grounded. Luke always struggles to believe, to believe how far the power of the force can go and how much Vader can actually wield. It is also fantastic to see Vader really utilising his powers, to see just how far he can go for the reader.
There is a lot of focus on Luke and Vader, there should be. It is this story that has really caught my attention and made me fall in love with this series. Soule also has another story to tell, that of Lando. In this issue we see one of the most emotional moments with Lando which contrasts beautifully with the Luke/Vader battle taking place on the planet below. As an audience we know that Elthree is part of the Millennium Falcon, but we haven’t seen any moments between Lando and her. Lando bares his soul this issue, just like Luke, showing how much he has developed since The Empire Strikes Back. He finds it far easier to talk to droids and cyborgs about the real things, rather than people. Soule really makes it feel like it is this moment that helps Lando realise that he can do more, that he can become more than what he already is. This is the turning point for him and where he begins to become the character we see in Return of the Jedi. Soule writes some exchanges between him and Chewie, showing how deep their relationship goes, but ultimately, it is his relationship with Elthree that can really bring out the best in him.
Leia goes into recruitment mode when she and Lando have some time alone. Not only does Lando’s character shift but so does Leia’s perception of him. The trust that doesn’t exist between them is there, when Leia sees that Lando will do the right thing. We see why Leia is so good at recruiting for the Rebellion, even Lando (the sweet talker) comments on it himself. It seems it’s enough to bring Lando into the fold. You can really sense how all of these threads are being drawn together to the points where they reach Return of the Jedi.
This issue really continues the momentum of the last issue, providing some heavy insights into the main characters from the original films and how they become what we see on screen. Soule really pushes the two main characters of the series, Luke and Lando, in ways that show how quickly they are developing. The Lando moment in this issue is particularly well done and I do feel a slight pang that we may never see a moment like this on film. With such wonderful artwork by Rosanas (that last panel on page one…) and you have the recipe for a comic and series that fans of the original trilogy will absolutely adore.
Star Wars (2020) #17 was published by Marvel Comics on September 29, 2021. It retails at $3.99 and is available from your local comic book store, via the Marvel Comics App and online retailers.