star wars

Collects Star Wars Annual 1 and issues 15-19.


Writers: Kieron Gillen, Jason Aaron
Artists: Ángel Unzueta, Mike Mayhew, Lenil Francis Yu
Publisher: Marvel
Publication year: 2016

This collection has three stories and only the last one has the “Star Wars adventure” feeling. The first two explore a darker side of war and for me they didn’t really gel.

The annual is the story of the best Rebel spy, Eneb Ray. He is a tax collector in Coruscant and that work emotionally really hard. But he carefully maintains his cover and sends vital info back to Princess Leia. He isn’t in contact with any other rebel, for security reasons. It’s very lonely work.

Then Leia asks him to save Senators who are accused of being rebels and are in danger of being executed. Of course, things don’t go as planned.

The next issues are the Rebel Jail part. After then events of Vader Down, Leia and a smuggler called Sana are escorting a dangerous prisoner to the Rebels’ jail, Sunspot prison. But while Leia is there, a masked man with a robot army invades the prison and starts killing the prisoners. They are “War criminals, Imperial spies, Mercenaries, even a Moff or two”. Leia tries to talk the man down and defend the inmates.

Both of these stories are, in fact, fine if they’d been in another franchise or original stories (well except for certain timing problems and secrets in the longest story. Keeping secrets for purely plot reasons is… frustrating to say the least). But for me they were just too dark as SW stories. I’m also a bit hesitant to believe that the Rebel Alliance has resources to act as the galaxy’s police and keep a secret jail with hundreds of inmates indefinitely. Leia… defends them. This is the woman who shoots Stormtroopers on regular bases and in the previous comic ordered everyone she had to kill Vader. Rebels have died under her command. She knows she’s fighting a war. Also, I didn’t care for the resolution of the story for our prisoner. Nope. Can’t see Leia doing that. On the other hand, I enjoyed most of the banter. I also enjoy stories where enemies are forced to work together and this one delivered that!

I actually enjoyed the brief side plot far more. Han and Luke have been sent to buy supplies for the Rebels. Han wants to double their money at a sabacc table but instead loses. Now, Luke finds something to smuggle in order to get the money back. This is exactly the sort of shenanigans I expected Han and Luke to get into between movies. It lightens the mood of the main story a lot.

The final issue is another tale from Kenobi’s notebook. He’s doing the gloomy hermit thing while watching over young Luke on Tatooine. Luke is learning how to fly but after a near accident, Uncle Owen forbids it. However, Kenobi has a feeling that Luke will need to learn how to fly.

This was fun, if somewhat depressing read. Uncle Owen is not a sympathetic character because we know that he’s so wrong.

Yu’s art is gorgeous, as usual.

Collects Star Wars: Vader Down, Star Wars issues 13 and 14, Darth Vader issues 13-15.


This was another very fun Star Wars collection from Marvel. It goes straight to action.

Vader wants to track down Luke and has a lead that he’s in a desolate planet Vrogas Vas. He and his minion Doctor Aphra (with her two bloodthirsty droids) go there… and find themselves in the middle of Rebel Base.

Three squadrons of rebel pilots are on maneuvers when Vader appears over the planet. They’re sure that they can take on a single TIE fighter and engage him. Vader shoots down most of them. Luke engages Vader and they disable each other’s ships. They both crash down to the planet.

Meanwhile, Leia and Han hear that the rebels have engaged Vader. Leia is eager to destroy the Emperor’s chief ally. Han thinks it’s suicide but because Luke is on the planet, he also heads over to help. However, on the planet, Leia is adamant that all forces must engage Vader. So, Han and Chewie search for Luke.

This was an action-packed collection but it manages to have nice character moments, too. Doctor Aphra really shows off that she’s so afraid of sliding to Vader’s bad side that she’ll do anything to stop that. Her two droids, an astromech and a protocol droid, are the evil counterparts to our heroic droids and Triple-Zero’s dialog is a twisted version of 3PO’s speech. Fun (if you like that). Vader seems to easily hold his own against the full force of the rebels and is truly a ruthless badass.

This is again set between episodes 4 and 5, so we already know that the major characters aren’t going to die and Vader’s not going to meet, no matter how much the writers almost do it. That’s part of the fun of reading stories set in this time period so it worked well for me.

It’s not necessary to read the previous collections but I recommend it, especially if you want to know more about doctor Aphra who now has her own comic.

Collects Star Wars issues 8-12.


Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Stuart Immonen, Simone Bianchi, Wade von Grawbadger
Publisher: Marvel
Publishing year: 2016

This was a great SW adventure! It has pretty much all the elements I look for in SW. It doesn’t start right where the first volume left off but I recommend reading the first volume, Skywalker strikes, first. It’s set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes back and stars the old familiar cast. And does so excellently.

In this collection, the first issue is a section from Ben Kenobi’s diary. He’s on Tatooine, hiding. It’s very frustrating for him to stay hidden and just watch the suffering of people in the hands of water bandits and Jabba. But he manages, mostly.

The rest of the collection continues the story arch from the first volume. Leia and Han are on an uninhabited planet looking for a new base for the rebels. Of course, things go sideways. First, they’re confronted by a female bounty hunter Sana Solo… Han’s wife! Han tries to protest that they aren’t married but when Imperial troops start shooting at them, Leia has no time to listen. In the end, Sana fights alongside our heroes, constantly bickering with Han.

Meanwhile, Luke is reading Ben’s diary and has the very bad idea that he wants to go to Coruscant and see for himself what he can find from the old Jedi Temples. To get to Coruscant, he and R2 go to Nar Shaddaa, called the Smuggler’s Moon. It’s in Hutt territory and full of criminals, mostly smugglers, but others, too. So, things don’t go well for him, either. A Hutt captures him but not to give him to the Empire but so that Luke can fight in an arena and entertain the locals.

This isn’t high on drama but that’s fine because we already know what’s going to happen to the characters and that they’re not going to be seriously hurt. (Although… they could be seriously enough hurt to need serious bacta tank time.) I enjoyed the fight scenes and the quirky Hutt. Han and Sana were also quite entertaining.

This story fits in surprising well between the movies.

A stand-alone Star Wars book.

Publication year: 2017
Format: print
Page count: 409
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm

This is set a few years before A New Hope. Leia has just turned sixteen and she’s ready to take on the responsibilities of the heir to the throne of Alderaan. To prove herself, she must go through the three Challenges: of the Mind, of the Body, and the Heart. To get ready for the Challenge of the Body, she joins Pathfinders who practice survival in different places on different planets. She has already been helping her father Bail Organa in his duties as a senator but now she joins the Apprentice Legislature to represent her home planet there. For the Challenge of the Heart, she will take on missions of mercy around galaxy.

But her biggest concern is that she senses a growing rift between her parents and herself. She’s been very close to them but now her father rarely talks with her and her mother, the queen, hosts seemingly endless dinner parties where Leia isn’t welcome. She doesn’t have real friends; her status has always kept her apart from Alderaan youth. But in the Legislature and among the Pathfinders, she meets other youths and one special young man who is also from Alderaan. The young people in the Legislature are from wealthy classes and some of them will become senators. The same people are in the Legislature and the Pathfinders.

Leia knows that the Empire is hurting people and she tries to help in her own way, but she soon realizes that good intentions alone aren’t enough. She also wants to know what her parents are doing and digs into that.

This was a good novel about young Leia. She’s growing to be the fierce woman in the movies. But she’s already thinking of ways to oppose the Empire, in her own way. She makes mistakes; of course, that’s the only way to learn. She must also face her own very privileged life; she knows abstractly that not everyone lives as sheltered life as she has but it’s another thing to really see it. She learns from bitter experience to think of the consequences of her actions. We also get to see more of Alderaan’s culture.

I liked Leia’s romance interest but of course I knew it was doomed from the beginning. As far as I know, the character hasn’t appeared anywhere else.

The book has several references to the prequel movies and introduces one character in their youth who appears in the Last Jedi. We know, of course, what the Organas were doing. I had the impression that Leia was involved with the Rebellion from early age, rather than her parents trying to hide everything from her, though.

We got a couple of scenes with Grand Moff Tarkin and he steals every scene. I also through enjoyed Mon Mothma in the few scenes she had. I would have loved to see Tarkin and Mothma meet!

I mostly enjoyed the book but it does take liberties with Leia’s youth.

Collects Marvel’s Star Wars: Princess Leia issues 1-5.

Writer: Mark Weid
Artists: Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson

The comic starts right at the end of A New Hope. Leia has just given a very short eulogy to her own world, Alderaan, and her adoptive parents. One of the fighter pilots, Evaan, who is also from Alderaan, doesn’t like how cold Leia seems. There’s a large price on Leia’s head and the generals wants to keep her safe on the new base. Also, the Empire wants to round out all the surviving Aldraanians. But Leia has a plan of her own: she’s going to travel around and gather all the remaining Alderaanians and take them to someplace safe where they can continue their life style of peace and arts. To do that she needs to sneak off the Rebel base. She recruits the reluctant pilot Evaan and R2-D2.

Some of the Aldraanians are happy to see their princess, but not all. And the Empire is dogging them at every turn.

This was a nice quick read which moves at a decent clip. However, we don’t get any new insight about Leia. Which is fine by me, I enjoy reading about her anyway. But the ending was too abrupt and it’s clear that a mission like this isn’t going to be accomplished in just five issues. The story has a nice subplot about two sisters.

We don’t actually know much about Alderaan through the movies. Just that it’s a peaceful place which doesn’t have any weapons. Yet, Leia is no pacifist: she fights right alongside the others and is clearly trained to use weapons. And since this is a Star Wars comic, there’s a quite a bit of fighting in the story line, in addition to sneaking around.

The Alderaan in this comic is noted for arts. Many of the surviving Aldraanians are peaceful artists. But some of them are far from peaceful and defend themselves aggressively. A few of them are even traitors, so we get quite a variety of Alderaanins in the story. We also get a small glimpse into Leia’s childhood where she was reared to be a hereditary monarch. Her parents are shown as wise and respected, which we already knew from the prequels.

Evaan is the other notable Alderaanian in the comic. As a fighter pilot, she’s clearly no pacifist, either. It was nice to see her development in the story. She starts with reluctantly honoring Leia because of her parents and status. Of course, this being an SW comic, you know that’s not the case at the end.

Oh, I really like Dodsons’ art. It flows smoothly. However, the Dodsons have their own style with faces and Leia doesn’t look much like Carrie Fisher.

Collects issues 1-4 of Journey to Star Wars: the Force Awakens, Shattered Empire, Princess Leia 1 and Star wars issue 1 from 1977.

Writers: Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, Roy Thomas
Artists: Marco Checchetto, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, Howard Cheykin

This was a fun ride to the past. The main series, Shattered Empire starts near the end of Return of the Jedi with Luke battling Vader and Han’s team putting the explosives on that Imperial base on Endor, and a team of Rebel pilots attacking the Imperial fleet. Shara Bay is one of the pilots and she almost shoots at Luke when he comes down in that Imperial shuttle. After a battle where Shara lost quite a few friends, she’s looking for her husband who is on Han’s team.

In the next two issues, Shara is Leia’s personal pilot when she goes to a mission on Naboo. However, the Emperor has left orders that Naboo will be destroyed after his death. Leia, Shara, and Naboo’s current queen must face down star destroyers!

In the final Shattered Empire issue, Luke goes on a mission to recover something from an Imperial base. Shara is with him, disguised as an Imperial Commander.

These were fun issues, letting us see Star Wars’ big heroes from the point-of-view of a minor character. However, Shara is a skilled pilot herself and used to danger, too. She and her husband Kes Dameron have a young son and they’re thinking of settling down. But Shara isn’t so sure; she feels like she’s abandoning the Rebels. Also, even though the Emperor is dead, the Empire still continues, fighting back as much as they can, and the rebels have a lot of clean-up to do.

The Leia issue starts with the ending of New Hope. After the award ceremony, Leia gives a short speech about Alderaan’s destruction. She wants to get back to work instead of grieving but now there’s a huge bounty on her head, so she must stay at the base. She confronts a pilot who thinks that Leia is dishonoring her parents’ memory.

The final issue in the collection is a reprint of Marvel’s first comic version of New Hope, with added Luke and Biggs scenes.

I really liked the Shattered Empire and Leia’s own adventure also starts nicely. The art was great in both stories. I hope our library has the Leia series, too. They’re not Earth shattering but nice short Star Wars adventures in the classic style.

The new Marvel Star Wars comic, collects issues 1-6.

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: John Cassaday

This story is set between “A New Hope” and “Empire Strikes Back”, in fact shortly after episode IV. The Empire has started to make deals with criminals, like Jabba the Hutt, to get supplies, and the rebels have decided to stop them. So, Princess Leia’s small team infiltrates Empire’s industrial complex at Cymoon 1. Han poses as Jabba’s envoy to get them in and blow the whole place up. Unfortunately for them, the Emperor’s negotiator is really tough and things don’t go as planned.

Later, Darth Vader deals with Jabba personally. Vader is looking for mercenaries to capture a particular rebel pilot. Meanwhile, Leia is trying to rally her troops for another mission. There’s even a Boba Fett subplot.

This one feels like Star Wars. It was exciting and funny. I could hear the actors saying the dialog and there’s a lot of big-screen action and humor. However, Empire having to deal with criminals for parts feels ludicrous, but in a Star Wars way. There’s even some character development for our heroes. However, I’m not too sure about Luke confronting Vader before receiving any Jedi training. And there’s a cliffhanger ending. Otherwise, very enjoyable.

Collects miniseries issues 1-6.

Writers: Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole
Artist: Carlos Ezquerra
Publisher: Titan Books

This series gives us Mara Jade’s background. It’s mostly set during and right after Return of the Jedi.

Mara Jade is one of the best characters in the Star Wars expanded universe novels and she was created by Zahn in the book Heir to the Empire. She was the Emperor’s Hand: an assassin and spy who did Emperor’s most secret jobs. She’s also able to use Force even though she isn’t a Jedi or a Sith.

In this collected edition, we see her final mission for Emperor Palpatine shortly before he died at the hands of Vader and Luke. He also gave her a mission she will try to fulfill in Zahn’s books: to kill Luke Skywalker. Right at the start, we also see a glimpse of her trying to assassinate Luke at Jabba’s Palace.

But in this story, she goes after the boss of criminal organization called Black Nebula and then survives as best she can the death of the Emperor. General Isard tries to take over the Empire and she doesn’t trust Mara at all.

Mara is fanatically loyal to the Emperor because she genuinely believes that the galaxy is better off with laws. But she doesn’t discriminate against aliens, like we see many imperial officers doing. She’s also very insular: she doesn’t have a team and she doesn’t even talk with the crew when she has to travel by space ship. The only person she works with is a droid. The only person she trusts is the Emperor and she doesn’t expect backup from anyone. It’s a very lonely existence but she doesn’t seem to really mind; work was everything to her. And when she really needs it, she has the security clearance to force co-operation from imperial forces. Well, she has it at the start of the story, anyway.
She’s more of a villain in this series but she does also protect people from criminals.

Recommended for people who like Mara Jade in the books. It’s not the best SW comic I’ve read but it’s decent. It’s not focused on battles because Mara is usually more subtle than that.