By Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca & Guru-eFX
Star Wars #40 continues The Ashes of Jedha arc by taking Luke, Han and Leia into the third chapter. One of the continued benefits of this ongoing series is getting to explore how the original trilogy characters react to events that were created after they were, and as a result it’s really cool to see the characters return to the aftermath of Jedha, the first planet targeted by the Death Star in Rogue One. Here the book picks up from last issue’s action-heavy ending, where the protagonists decide to take their fight to the Empire after the launch of an Orbital drill by General Kanchar onto the planet’s surface puts it in severe jeopardy.
The storytelling by Kieron Gillen as usual is on fire here with an excellent narrative at the heart of the book, throwing Luke, Han and Leia together in plenty of interesting scenarios that keeps the book engaging, whilst also spending time to develop each of the three characters. We get to see classic Han and Leia back and forth dialogue, and we also get to see Leia talking about her adopted father Bail Organa including a flashback to the events that saw her recieve orders that would see her head on the ship to Scarif and make that journey with Tantive IV..
We didn’t get to see Leia before the final scenes of Rogue One so it’s a cool touch, to learn what she was up to on Yavin IV. This is a huge character moment for her that really works in the context of the story, as Leia realizes that the decision that her father made has basically shaped her entire life up to this point. If he had chosen somebody else for the mission that he decided to give to Leia, what would have happened as a result? Would things have played out the same way but with a different character in her place, leaving Leia doomed to meet the same fate of her planet? Or would things have turned out for the worse, with the person being sent in Leia’s place not being able to resist the interrogation of the Death Star personnel and Vader himself, and given away the location of the base, giving the Death Star the ability to destroy Yavin IV before Luke, Han and Obi-Wan could even make it to Alderaan in the first place?
These character moments are balanced well with action that is incredibly effective both with the Falcon and Luke. The artwork from Salvador Larroca is great in these moments, with plenty of stylish, cinematic panels that really immerse you in the action. The colours too by Guru-eFX are impressive, adding a vibrant depth to the book that helps it stand out. Everything in the action department is just top notch from start to finish and it’s a real shame that when it comes to the characters and their faces in particular, it’s a massive let down and almost takes you out of the book altogether.
There is barely any emotional depth added to the characters which means that important scenes like the one mentioned above with Leia on Yavin IV above don’t always have the impact that they should. It’s easy to see why Larroca has decided to use photo-realistic character designs in a bid to make the characters feel as close to their on-screen selves as possible, but it just doesn’t work like it should, and several faces particularly of characters who aren’t Han, Luke and Leia are even weaker.
Star Wars #40 is certainly an exciting book that continues the story well but a lot of your enjoyment of this title will depend on whether you like the artwork style from Larroca or not. It didn’t always work for this reviewer but the story from Gillen is interesting enough to keep reading.