THE DESTINY PATH Part I
The Rebel Alliance has been scattered following their defeat at Hoth. To evade the Empire, Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, Chewbacca and C-3PO fled in the “Millennium Falcon” in hope of finding refuge with Han’s old friend, Lando Calrissian.
But Darth Vader arrived at Cloud City first and forced Lando to take them as prisoners bait to lure Luke Skywalker into a trap. Leia managed to lead the others in a daring escape, though Han Solo was lost to Vader’s bounty hunter.
And now Luke reels from his defeat at the hands of Darth Vader….
Writer: Charles Soule
Penciller: Jesús Saiz
Cover artist: R.B. Silva
Publication date: January 1, 2020
Anyone who has followed Star Wars, for even a brief time, knows that there are as many beginnings as there are endings. In late 2019 we wrapped up the cinematic branch of the Skywalker Saga, but the story is far from told as Marvel Comics – fresh off wrapping up their 2015 relaunch with a blockbuster 75th issue – relaunches the series from issue 1, now in the post The Empire Strikes Back era. Some might see it as a cynical marketing ploy, others a stepping off point as the world is clearly told that The Rise of Skywalker is the end, but for others this is the opportunity to explore a fascinating period in Star Wars history, the year between Empire and Return of the Jedi.
From the off the stage is set. Luke is disconsolate after his defeat at the hands of Darth Vader and the fresh knowledge that he may be the son of the dark lord. Across the Falcon’s cargo hold, Lando, Chewie and Leia are stung by their recent battles – Han Solo, now lost to Boba Fett and on his way to Jabba the Hutt, is noticeable by his absence – and for the moment, all seems lost. Luke is semi-delirious after his injuries and brush with death, and confused after Ben didn’t come when he called for help (“If you choose to face Vader, you will do it alone. I cannot interfere“), Lando is stung after leaving Cloud City and even Threepio bemoans his inconvenient but temporary destruction on Bespin. Leia is as uncompromising as ever, taking command of the Falcon despite it being Chewie’s ship and taking them to the Rebel fleet.
Meanwhile, we step towards the Core and into the Mid Rim as a Rebel fleet is attacked by overwhelming Imperial forces. A lone X-wing breaks through the cordon, only to be destroyed by a remarkable Imperial commander who takes it out with one laser cannon shot as we cut to a Blockade Runner in a fight and a familiar name – Dameron, the father of Poe watching his wife Shara battle in an A-Wing. Enter the Millennium Falcon, targeted by an entire wing of TIE Fighters who aim to take out the vessel and Organa with it. A plan is formulated, with Leia organising a plan of action, Lando back at the helm of the Falcon and Luke pulling himself together enough to assist, and succeed they do as most of the Rebels escape.
A chance at a quick turnaround for the Empire is missed, and Imperial Commander Zahra reports to Vader. His interest in Leia is obvious – she isn’t part of the Emperor’s plans and so her life is irrelevant – but Luke is needed alive, and as we return to the Rebels and learn that there must be a mole in the Alliance after two Rebel cells are compromised, we end with Luke as he struggles with the realization that Yoda and Ben must have known the truth about Vader being his father and wonders, if he can’t be a Jedi then what is he?
As previously stated, it’s a new beginning for the title which will inevitably bring huge interest and sales along with it, but the move from the Star Wars era to the post-Empire year is very much a new beginning as well. All characters are changed. Yoda now meets his young Jedi apprentice, always looking to the horizon while Kenobi confronts the consequences of ‘a certain point of view’. Vader is challenged by his own history as Anakin Skywalker, while Han and Leia give in to their feelings for each other. Palpatine questions his trust in Vader, Lando with his impossible choice on Bespin and Luke as he begins to understand his larger role in the fate of the galaxy. This is what Charles Soule is given as we move beyond Empire. Endor is a year away, a day of reckoning for all involved, nerves and tempers are frayed and this is conveyed well by Soule and artist Jesús Saiz who delivers a fine first issue. The main take away is there’s a mole in the Rebellion, threatening the security of the Alliance and their fight against the Empire.
A solid first issue that steps into a very different era of Star Wars, one remembered fondly by fans of the original Marvel run. If Soule can inject some of that pre-Jedi charm into this series, we could be in for a treat.