By Brian Wood, Stéphane Créty, Julien Hugonnard-Bert & Gabe Eltaeb
The last issue of Brian Wood’s ongoing Star Wars series was arguably the weakest yet. However, #16 marked a considerable upswing in quality that is starting to see a return to form, even if the book’s still not quite back to its best yet.
With the new Rebel base established on Arrochar, we pick up where we left off with Wedge Antilles teaching the local pilots tactics of the Rogue Squadron whilst Luke joins the Militia for a routine mission, and so far, Princess Leia has managed to balance the duties between both her role in the Alliance and the upcoming duties as a royal wife. But underneath the surface, everyone is uneasy, and it’s almost like a ticking time bomb until everything goes off, because Star Wars fans know that they won’t stay on Arrochar forever, after all – there’s a reason why the Alliance had to establish a base on Hoth in Empire Strikes Back.
The book itself veers the series back on track after the mess that was #15. There’s better characterization, and more interesting plot elements than last month, which didn’t exactly convince readers that another arranged marriage for Leia would be a good thing. The biggest character though that gets a boost is Luke, who’s been portrayed as a whiny brat in previous issues, and he now is put in his place by the local militia who only give respect to those who earned it. Hopefully this signifies Luke improving as a character for the better, and it’ll be interesting to see where Wood takes the series from here.
Much like Wood’s script, the artwork of Stéphane Créty has improved greatly, with his characters coming to the forefront and looking a lot better than they did last issue, feeling less cartoonish. There’s also foreshadowing elements that the artist drops into the plot in a good way to further make the transition towards Empire Strikes Back, such as uniforms, which is an interesting touch. Julien Hugonnard-Bert handles the inks well, whilst Gabe Eltaeb takes over the colours, delivering some striking visuals that further reinforce the fact that this book is clearly better than last issue.
Wood shows here that he can still handle various themes and characterization that drew readers to his work in the first place. Whilst there’s nothing groundbreaking about Star Wars #16, it signifies a return to form in the book for Wood and company, even though he hasn’t done enough yet to win reluctant readers over to this otherwise weak story arc. It’ll certainly be good to see the back of it, that’s for sure.
However, unlike the previous issue, Wood actually should have readers looking forward to a Star Wars issue again, and things should shape up nicely for #17 which should hopefully be an even bigger improvement.