Marvel's first issue of Star Wars, the first Star Wars comic published under Disney as part of the new expanded canon. I'm not sure if this series is strictly “canon” as Disney are concerned though I believe the new novels are. Whatever, with the old expanded universe gone there's a lot of blank space to fill. I'm not going to use this issue to read tea leaves about what the new films will be like but I'd like to think there's some evidence here for how Disney views the licence.
Jason Aaron's script quickly establishes the characters we all know doing the things we know they're meant to do: Han's the charming rogue who bluffs like a trooper; Luke gets his big hero moment and a lightsaber quick draw; C-3PO fusses in the background; R2-D2 pulls another cute trick out of the bag; and Leia, soon to star in her own series, is as quietly badass as she's ever been.
The plot itself is actually rather secondary to each character getting their set piece. I wasn't expecting otherwise and I'm not inclined to complain. When an old and venerable property finds itself under new management there's a natural desire by the new owners to prove they understand what they've got their hands on and the set pieces in this issue ably do it. Of all of them its Leia who gets the best showing: standing in the background for several scenes whilst Han fronts the operation before unmasking, beating some Stormtroopers unconscious with the helmet of her disguise and then ordering Chewie on a suicide mission without a second thought.
Have I mentioned how much I love this character recently? Honestly, if there's one disappointment in this issue its the preview of the Princess Leia comic which is two pages of unlettered Dodsons art adapting the medal scene from the end of A New Hope in lieu of telling us anything about the series' story. It looks gorgeous but the Darth Vader preview gives us the erstwhile Ani marching imperiously into Jabba's Palace (also unlettered), much better.
And the book has a hell of an art team in John Cassaday and Laura Martin, veterans of Warren Ellis' Planetary and Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men. Cassaday's likenesses are bang on without sacrificing the aesthetic of his style whilst Martin remains the absolute master of atmospheric lighting effects. Between then the three new Star Wars series are being drawn by David Cassaday, Salvador Larocca and the Dodsons, which at least in my book is the sort of A-list line-up the property deserves.
If there is a problem with the series it hasn't manifested yet but this issue and the previews seem to foreshadow it: until the next film comes out the comics are playing with a greatly depleted toy chest. This issue and the Vader preview re-use the trappings of Jabba's Palace, in at least one case in a way that doesn't quite convince. Its something to look out for.
Now I just have to wait a month to find out what kind of havoc Han Solo can wreak in an Imperial AT-AT (that's the “Dog Walker”, right? Never can remember).