Title : Star Wars, In The Shadow of Yavin #3
Publisher: Dark Horse
Author: Brian Wood
Artist: Carlos D’anda
My interest in Star Wars has waned significantly over the last 15 years. This is not because the prequels were terrible (they were) or because the expanded universe literature has been hit or miss (it has). It’s because the narrative that captured my imagination so thoroughly when I was a young lad looks a bit too tired and too derivative to eyes that have spent too many hours in a college film classroom. I lost my innocence somewhere among the twisting corridors of higher education, and I have only myself to blame.
Clearly Kurosawa was better at this sort of thing than Lucas, but I’m still excited to revisit these characters who lived a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. I think I always knew that George Lucas had written a pretty cool universe with some great characters, but it always felt like there should have been a bit more depth. It turns out that Brian Wood’s Star Wars is the antidote to a poison I barely realized I had swallowed. Kicking off shortly after the battle of Yavin IV, the series seems poised to flesh out some of the character growth that was only implied in the films. It’s not a re-characterization; Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewy feel like the same characters that Lucas invented. It’s more like episodes 4-6 told us the action-packed bits of the story without bothering to linger on the characters, and Wood is striking a more mature balance.
Cabel and I have already talked about book #1 on the podcast, so I won’t retread too much old ground except to say that all the elements we liked from the 1st issue, the art, the dialogue, and the pacing, are present in #3. Carlos D’anda’s artwork continues to absolutely stop the show. This is not only the best looking Star Wars book I have ever read, it’s some of the best art on the newsstand. D’anda draws crisp and energetic action, along with some really gorgeous set-pieces that really force you to experience scale, but his real strength is in his character art. It’s always tough to draw a cast based on such a recognizable group of actors, and the book strikes a rare balance between creating comfortable likenesses of the characters while maintaining a larger-than-life gloss commiserate with the rest of the art.
Issue #3 has some moments where the plot stutters, and where the dialogue gets overwrought. The grey squadron story drags its feet through the soap-opera swamp just a bit, and love triangles are often a mess to write. Though the situation can feel forced, the character’s choices make a lot of sense to me and the shuffling pathos is offset by Han and Chewy going full tilt swashbuckle mode engage on Coruscant, so minor bits of melodrama shall be forgiven. After all, this is a space opera, right?