Since Kieron Gillen took over the main Star Wars comic series with issue 38, his opening story arc has focused on Jedha, the desert planet that the Death Star blasted about a third of the way into Rogue One. The planet is in very rough shape, falling apart and suffering devastating sandstorms almost constantly. But that hasn’t stopped a war against Saw Gererra’s dedicated extremists and the empire from continuing on. Not when the Empire wants more kyber crystals for their second Death Star. Also, I noticed a funny error on this comic. The front cover advertises former writer Jason Aaron, while the credits list Gillen as the writer. Oops.
Star Wars 40 begins with a brief action scene, fought in multiple altitudes. Luke is on the ground, fighting inside the empire’s mining drill, and he’s clearly disturbed by the planet’s extreme measures. Meanwhile, Han attacks the drill from above with the millennium falcon. As much as they destroy the drill, it’s made clear that it’s a minor setback at best for the Empire, who already have far more impressive equipment ready to go.
The rest of the comic mostly focuses on Luke’s personal journey to become a Jedi. With the help of a pilgrim from Jedha, he seeks a temple where he can learn more. That brings us yet another good reason to come to Jedha for this story arc. It drives the story towards both Empire Strikes back and Return of the Jedi, shows us the aftermath of the events in Rogue One, and continues Luke’s personal journey. Luke and Leia also have an argument on whether Luke should really be going to the temple in the middle of a battle. Leia shares the last words her adoptive father ever gave her, while Luke explains why his journey is important. It’s a great moment, and we don’t usually see Luke and Leia arguing enough in the movies. It’s probably the real highlight of an already great comic.
The art by Salvador Larroca is great for the most part. The environments are always well-detailed, whether it’s the opening page showing the drill in the middle of a sandstorm, with lightning bolts seemingly causing the sand to glow, the insides of the drill complete with all sorts of heavy pipes and bits of rust, or the very impressive Leviathan vehicle that shows up in a 2-page spread. Character details are also great, with appropriate wrinkles in their protective sand gear. Facial expressions generally do a good job at conveying emotions, although sometimes characters appear a bit more bored than they should, and sometimes they look a bit too much like the movies. It’s a bit uncanny. Guru-eFX’s colouring is great though. Even if this comic is largely brown or red thanks to Jedha’s conditions, it’s balanced out with Luke’s lightsaber, various energy blasts and the darker interior of a Star Destroyer. There’s also brilliant use of shadows and glares from various light sources.
This is a great Star Wars comic. Even if it’ll likely have little to do with The Last Jedi, it’s great to read another fantastic Star Wars comic the day before I see the movie on opening night. The story by its nature connects all of the Original Trilogy era movies released so far, furthers Luke’s journey to becoming a Jedi, and gives us an uneasy alliance between Leia’s rebels and Jedha’s extremists. If you’re a Star Wars fan who enjoys comics, you should check this series out.