Continuing the new series, simply and boldly self-titled as Star Wars, Dark Horse enters the second chapter with a little action, along with much context that moves the story along significantly. Writer Brian Wood continues proving his chops with Star Wars #2, whilst artists Carlos D’anda and Gabe Eltaeb are beginning to forge a unique style for this new series.
Star Wars #2 begins with Han Solo and Chewbacca on a detached mission, still relatively unclear though involving a lot of credits, as they move through a sequence of rendezvous points and longwinded hyperspace jumps to avoid detection. While everything seems to be going like clockwork to begin with, the challenge of the mission makes itself clear when a particularly well-known bounty hunter, accompanied by an Imperial Star Destroyer, show up…
Meanwhile, suspicious of a possible Imperial agent working within the Rebels, Mon Mothma appoints Princess Leia to put together a "black" squadron – off the books, off the radar – to work in complete stealth and secrecy while they work to find out from where and from whom intelligence is being leaked to the Empire. Nevertheless, while the new stealth group is formed, Leia privately battles with the loss of her planet Alderaan, not having near enough time and opportunity to grieve.
The writing in Star Wars #2 is of a tremendous standard, and actually towers above and beyond the debut issue. As with the first chapter, much of the writing is in the form of dialogue, with narrative commentary being used in a limited fashion. We are also presented with two new Imperial characters during the issue, teasing at some subplot that is about to be unveiled.
Wood eloquently refuses to restrict himself to simple language as well, choosing to use words such a ‘superfluous’ and ‘preternatural’, in scrupulous reference to the Imperials. The choice of language, I believe, is deliberate for the characters and the settings, but is overall a welcome addition to the realm of Star Wars comics in my mind. Get those fans to add to their vocabulary, I say!
The artwork, as per issue one, is of a great quality as well. D’anda brings to shape a likeness of the known characters that does not betray his own style. There is clear attention to this, but also to location as well – with deliberate focus on setting where indispensable to assist in effectively telling the story. Eltaeb’s colors are brilliant, beautifully fitting into the scenes and reflecting the issues and characters as it was also done in the films.
Alex Ross returns to form with the cover art for this second issue, after the disappointing showing for the debut comic. Ross’ style is more self-evident in this work, with a wonderful realism and likeness that could almost be a movie poster. His work for Star Wars #2 as an excellent improvement, and his fans will be happy to see the return-to-form.
Deeper in the context of the story though, is the hint of our most important heroes entering an unusual and darker period, before the events of The Empires Strikes Back (Episode V). Leia’s emotional turmoil is clearly a main focus in this specific issue, while hints about Luke’s naïve youthful spirit abound in particular moments. Wedge seems to be a balancing spirit between the two. Above all, there is a lot of foreshadowing in this issue of what is to come in future issues, but used so well as to not give anything away. It will be fascinating to reflect on these earlier issues as the story arcs reach their conclusions.
The faultless team of Wood, D’anda, and Eltaeb is certainly bringing new elements to the Star Wars table. The content is exciting and intriguing, the artwork stunning, and each page leading on to higher expectations on what is to come. I am sold on the work Wood is putting into Star Wars in this series, and am anxious to learn more of the new characters he has introduced to the universe.
Star Wars #2 is a great read, and casual fans will also enjoy this one. Dive into this one as soon as you can.