The Star Wars saga has a long history with comic books; the announcement that Disney would begin making new movies and also producing new comic books for the series inspired nearly as much excitement with fans. The debut of Star Wars in 2015 set the bar high for new, canonical adventures of our favorite characters in the wake of Star Wars: A New Hope, with that long-running narrative finally coming to a close before the release of the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and setting the stage for the events of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. While this Star Wars title has delivered some of the best comic stories in the new canon to audiences, it's also been a mixed bag of excitement, with this final installment reflecting those frustrating elements with a lackluster conclusion.
After spending much of this arc embarking on their own adventures, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, and C-3PO all have a fateful reunion that puts them directly in Darth Vader's crosshairs, coming face to face with the villain, hoping for victory but settling for survival. Audiences are well aware that our heroes will live to fight another day, but the specifics of how they survive and how it impacts the Empire remaining unknown to readers.
Writer Greg Pak and artist Phil Noto had the unenviable job of concluding this title, one made all the more difficult due to the audience knowing where this journey was headed and what the status quo would be when the storyline wrapped up. Noto, as is always the case, did a tremendous job of depicting the swashbuckling action of the series, finding the right balance of whimsy and realism that he always brings to the Star Wars titles. Pak, on the other hand, possesed a much more difficult task in navigating a story that was fresh and exciting, yet remained reverse-engineered from the events of a film that hit theaters nearly 40 years ago.
Throughout the course of this four-year series, audiences have been given plenty of one-off adventures that helped fill the time between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, while other arcs helped elucidate on some of the evolutions our heroes underwent between the two films. Looking at the final arc compared to this final issue, readers witnessed Han and Leia's romantic tension reach its peak while Luke gained just enough insight into the Force to strengthen his beliefs and advance his skills to justify a newfound abilities in the film's first sequel.
What the arc, and the final issue, fails to accomplish is offering any sort of catharsis in its conclusion. For some audiences, Hoth is one of the more memorable locations in the entire saga, yet the final issue in Star Wars feels like the justification for the Rebel Alliance inhabiting the planet is, "Well, I guess we'll live on Hoth now." The enigmatic planet isn't given enough due for either its appearance in Empire Strikes Back or even as a final destination after 75 issues that's worthy of all the chapters that led up to it.
Another complication posed in this comic is that, when confronted by Darth Vader, all of the characters react the same way to the Sith Lord as Han Solo does when they meet in Empire, leading audiences to wonder why the events played out exactly the same, despite them already knowing the outcome. One would hope that the events of this comic could have retroactively added exposition to what we see in that film, but are left with redundancies or events and characters that seemingly would have left a major impact on our main characters that would have been mentioned again at some point in the original trilogy, even if only casually.
Not all hope is lost for Star Wars fans, as next month's Star Wars: Empire Ascendant is meant to serve as an epilogue to this series, while the Star Wars series will re-launch next year, exploring the events between Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Both of those narratives could potentially alleviate any troubles readers had with this final issue, but with this being the last proper chapter in an extended adventure, readers will be left wanting more.
Published by Marvel Comics
On November 20, 2019
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Phil Noto0comments
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Cover by Phil Noto