… Yeah it’s pretty good.
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Pat… yes… well what do you want me to say?!
It’s more original Star Wars. It’s pretty good. It’s been around for forty years. Nobody needs me to tell them that Star Wars is g… yes… yes I’m listening… yes I do still want this job… that won’t be necessary… no, nobody needs to go down to the basement… I’ll get it done. Yes… yes, happy chatting.
Okay I’ll stop stalling for time now. Star Wars: Skywalker Strikes is pretty decent. If you like Star Wars (and who doesn’t?) then you’ll probably enjoy reading this, because it’s more Star Wars. In that regard it’s filling, but I’m not sure that makes it truly satisfying.
Perhaps it’s just my position that put me at a disadvantage. What I try to look for in Adaptive Panels is how these comics build upon their source material. What interesting elements do they add? Do they answer questions their source left dangling? Do they have any comment to make on previous creative decisions? Skywalker Strikes really… doesn’t. The only original character of note is saved for a cliff-hanger right at the end, so I can’t tell you right now if they end up being a worthy addition to the canon. Besides that, the comic gets most of its kicks by repeatedly playing on the conceit of how much its readers already know about the story of Star Wars, versus what the characters know at this point in their arcs. That’s clever when you do it once or twice, but by the end of Skywalker Strikes it gets a little tiresome.
I don’t want to sound too harsh, but for the most part, anything that I can’t pick holes in here is just ‘fine’, and ‘fine’ isn’t interesting to talk about.
In the aftermath of their victory at Yavin and the destruction of the first Death Star, the rebellion looks to press their advantage against a weakened and disorganised Empire. Their target is Cymoon 1, the largest munitions factory in the galaxy. The crew of the Millennium Falcon are sent in under the guise of negotiators from an Outer-Rim crime syndicate, with a mission to sabotage the facility from within. Their mission is complicated, however, by the discovery of slaves held within the complex, followed by the unexpected arrival of Darth Vader. The crew are eventually successful in their mission, but barely escape with their lives, while most of the slaves are massacred by Vader and his Stormtroopers.
Back at the fleet, Leia keeps pushing for further attacks against the Empire before they can recover from the blows they’ve been dealt; but, with most of the Alliance’s resources being spent keeping their fleet on the move, the rest of the leadership is more concerned with finding a new planet to serve as their base of operations. Leia recruits Han to help her find one, and the pair travels to a smuggler’s outpost of his, where the stormy atmosphere keeps the surface permanently hidden from prying eyes.
Meanwhile, Luke is shaken by his confrontation with Vader, where he was ridiculously outmatched. Without Obi-Wan still around (corporeally at least) to teach him, he has no idea how to improve his skills as a Jedi. Absconding from the fleet, Luke returns to Tatooine, in the hopes that his old mentor left answers for him there.
However, all three have bounty hunters on their tale. Vader has hired Boba Fett to track down the pilot responsible for the destruction of the Death Star, while Han’s not-so-subtle attempts to seduce Leia are interrupted by a new face with an old score to settle… Han’s ex-wife.
Okay, that last part, I like. It makes perfect sense as part of Han’s character without any further explanation really needing to be provided, and Sana Solo is a character with a lot of potential. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you if she ends up living up to it, because of the aforementioned cliff hanger.
Otherwise, Skywalker Strikes doesn’t really do anything ‘wrong’ with the material it has. It’s got great action, and it’s properly funny in places. Han and Leia’s banter is spot on, while C3PO’s attempt to defend the Millennium Falcon by himself in the first chapter (and failing miserably) is hilarious. Vader is perhaps more menacing here than I’ve seen him in just about anything before, and it’s always entertaining to see Expanded Universe depictions of Boba Fett trying so damn hard to make up for his famously underwhelming showing in the films.
I also hope in later issues that Skywalker Strikes will help bridge the gap somewhat between the original film and The Empire Strikes Back. Watched back to back, it always is a little dissonant to go straight from the Rebellion’s biggest victory at the end of the Star Wars, to seeing them on the ropes, being chased out of their final hiding place at the beginning of Empire. There’s a good story to tell in there, but Skywalker Strikes never really gets around to it.
As I mentioned before, where this book falls down is with its overuse of winking to the audience over secrets the characters involved don’t know yet. Whether it’s Jabba making a joke to Vader about no-one of note ever coming from Tatooine, or Vader telling Luke in their first real duel that he has he has killed many fathers, and has no idea who Luke’s was supposed to be, it’s never being quite as clever as it thinks it is. What’s more, with the Luke/Vader example, I think it retroactively waters down the dramatic weight behind their showdown in Empire.
I’ll say this though: Those final panels, where Vader learns Luke’s full name from Boba Fett, is in near silence worth a thousand bellowed “NOOOOOOOOOOOO”’s.
Skywalker Strikes is entertaining for its own sake, which I’m sure is as much reason as many fans would need to pick it up. However, those hoping for a little extra may be disappointed.
No article related to Star Wars right now would be complete without a commemoration to the passing of Kenny Baker, the man who brought R2D2 to life all the way until 2005. An iconic and much loved role played by a man who was always one of the first and happiest to engage with the unparalleled following of fans that Star Wars has garnered over the years. Rest in peace sir, and may the force be with you.
…That was this week’s OpinionatedDavid!!! Check back later today for a brand new VuePoint!!!