Star Wars #7 left us with a doozy of a plot twist in the appearance of Sana Solo, Han’s wife. So although I was pretty ready to abandon Star Wars with John Cassaday, that cliffhanger got me picking up #8. The continuation of the story doesn’t disappoint. And though I do miss Cassaday’s art, Stuart Immonen does right by the characters and keeps the world familiar.
One of the great things about Jason Aaron’s writing of Star Wars is that he’s clearly having fun. On the opening pages of #8, Imperial ships fly above the planet where Han and Leia have found refuge and then complications. The captain of the fleet orders the TIE fighters to attack. Upon receiving the order, a pilot responds, “I love my job. Long live the Empire!” We wouldn’t need this nobody’s dialogue to finish the scene. The scene is there to progress the rising action coming down on our heroes. But the addition of it lightens an otherwise dour two pages filled with military language. Seeing the personal joy this TIE pilot has is also fun for the reader.
When we get back to the point of the cliffhanger–the reveal that Sana is Han’s wife–Aaron immediately gives us blustering, back-pedaling Han, a mirror of the greeting with Lando in The Empire Strikes Back. What I loved about the development of this story is how ambiguous the truth is. Sana insists they’re married, that he’s a con artist scamming her as he’s done to other women in the past. Han denies that the two are married, denies the long cons, while Sana sticks to her story and tells him the time to run the con is up. Since we see Han as a hero, we want to believe his side, but how truthful his denials are is questionable. Sana’s got her own plans for the Princess though and blows up their shuttle to keep them from escaping. She wants to sell Leia to the Empire.
To add to the twistiness of trust, Leia herself doesn’t know who to believe and ends up acting against Han to protect her freedom, figuring Han might be in cahoots with Sana. I love that Leia doesn’t wait for Han to try to rescue them from the situation, that she takes control of her own rescue.
Also enjoyable is Aaron’s peppering of diction from Empire to add weight to their meaning. Han, attempting to sweet-talk Sana into letting them go, admits he’s a “scoundrel”. For the reader, then, watching the scene in Empire where he tells Leia that she likes him because he’s a scoundrel has new resonance, now calling back to this encounter.
Meanwhile Luke’s looking for Jedi answers, dismayed that he nearly lost his life over a bunch of stupid stories. Oh, Luke, don’t you know stories are everything? I appreciate how spot on Luke’s character is to the timeline of the films. He’s got the naive cockiness of A New Hope, easily dismissive of Obi-Wan’s gift to him. But there’s a growing awareness of his limitations. He’s still uncomfortable in his Jedi knowledge, forming the path to who he is at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.
Immonen doesn’t have the shadowy realism of Cassaday’s art, but his likenesses to Hamill, Fisher, and Ford are strong. The facial expressions and body language were frequently spot on to similar emotional moments from the films.