Star Wars #9 (2020)

OPERATION STARLIGHT

Part I: THE ANCIENT RELIC

The heroic Rebel Alliance is scattered and on the run from the evil Galactic Empire after losing the Battle of Hoth.

But the Empire’s cunning Commander Zahra has broken Rebel security codes and will stop at nothing to crush the Rebellion once and for all.

Princess Leia attempts to rally her friends before all hope is lost….

Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Jan Bazaldua
Cover artist: Carlo Pagulayan
Publication date: December 9, 2020
Pages: 32

With the Alliance defeated at Hoth and scattered across the galaxy while evading the clutches of the Empire, it’s up to Princess Leia to once again be that beacon of optimism that keeps them fighting through the darkest of times. She allows for a brief moment of celebration at their recent win over Commander Zahra as the 4th and 7th divisions paired up, but now’s the time to push on. With their encryption code cracked, the risk of communicating with the rest of the fleet is too high, and so Leia turns to the unlikeliest of saviors, See Threepio who has an idea of how to work around that huge obstacle by using a language that’s not been used for a thousand years that even he doesn’t know. The problem; only one old droid knows the language, and it resides in the Imperial Museum on Coruscant.

Lando and the Millennium Falcon are ‘volunteered’ for the mission, along with a squad of Pathfinders that includes the parents of Poe Dameron, but once they arrive at Coruscant the ‘deal’ is soured somewhat as not only is Lando given short shrift by the Pathfinders, but they also insist upon taking Lobot with them to slice the museums database to find the droid. Clearly annoyed, Lando decides to go with them to help in the heist, but once again the plan changes as instead of getting the information to find the droid and pass that on to another team, the Pathfinders decide to spring the droid there and then. The four-armed Quermian Needle locates a relic from his own world and begins protesting, claiming it should be back on his homeworld and demanding to see the museum curator, and once he is with him continues his distractions to allow his colleagues the time to break in.

Sadly there’s a terrible twist, as the curator has Needle apprehended and executed for attempting to steal the artifact to give the Pathfinders time to steal the droid, which they do but once back at the fleet frustratingly discover that the droids circuits have been corrupted. Needle died for nothing, and the Alliance is still without a means to communicate between divisions without Imperial detection.

There’s a very old school vibe to this issue as our heroes risk it all to snatch a sliver of a win from under the heel of the Empire. Very much on the back foot, and with the Empire seemingly comfortable in their dominion over the galaxy and its treasures – the attitude of the museum curator really says it all – it’s a high risk, high win gamble that is scuppered right at the death. Needle’s execution, although not seen in any kind of detail, underlines the power and scope the Imperials wield at this time, and to convey their frustration at the situation in the final few frames is well played.

Charles Soule continues to have a firm grip of what makes Star Wars comics work so well, while artist Jan Bazaldua delivers some delicious art after her work on Marvel titles including Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers. This post-Empire era is fascinating, as the Rebellion pulls a major victory out of the jaws of imminent defeat, critically weakening the Empire and speeding it towards its collapse at the Battle of Jakku just 2 years later. Wisely, Leia stops Luke and herself from accompanying Lando and Lobot in the Falcon (Lando very much still getting the rough end of the pineapple from the Alliance) which allows other rebels the spotlight and their shot at glory, but ultimately it’s characters like Needle who pay the biggest price. A wise woman once said that Rebellions are built on hope; that may be the case, but stories like this show they are very much fuelled by sacrifice.

Star Wars #9 @ ForbiddenPlanet.com

 

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Star Wars Vol. 1: The Destiny Path (Star Wars (Marvel))
  • Soule, Charles (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 152 Pages - 11/10/2020 (Publication Date) - Marvel (Publisher)