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The main Star Wars title will always have the tough job of balancing what people expect, i.e. main film characters adventures, with telling compelling stories that aren’t predictable or boring because we know what happens to everyone. Charles Soule’s run has risen to the challenge for the most part, giving us the adventures of the original trilogy characters while also knowing when it’s just as fun to let other characters take a bigger role. Such is the case in this issue as Kes Dameron shares the spotlight with Leia herself.
Compared to the high octane pace of the first three issues of the “Operation Starlight” arc, this one takes a step back to reflect on the characters involved, a wise choice that gives weight to the series rather than having problems all solved at breakneck speed, something that happens all too often in comics.
This issue picks up with Kes Dameron’s struggle at his wife’s unknown fate after a trap was sprung and Shara Bey was isolated and stranded on a Star Destroyer. With nothing to do but wait and worry, Kes heads to the observation deck, here his path crosses with General Leia Organa, who’s also mourning a missing Han Solo, frozen in carbonite.
Kes reveals to her he comes to the observation deck regularly to talk to a holo-image of his son. We then get a cute holo of a baby and their name, Poe Dameron.
Unknown to her this would be the first time she would learn the name of Poe Dameron–whose impact on her life would be just as big as hers on him. A man who’d fight with her, for her, and even against her. Whether in the Resistance, locating her brother at his lowest, and who Leia’s legacy as a general and leader would be most directly passed onto.
Leia and Kes then connect over the pain of missing loved ones, as Leia asks how Kes and Shara met, and we get the first of two flashback stories for this issue.
Kes was partying and celebrating the engagement of friends on Galator III and bet his last seven credits on a Crestracing driver he liked the name of.
Like podracing, but on water, the sport is brutal and a lot of people die competing, particularly at the final bottleneck, known as the Death Chute. Kes’ racer is neck and neck and refuses to back down, holding their nerve longest to make it through the chute and winning the race.
With the wins of his bet, Kes goes down to say thanks to the racer, who turns out to be Shara Bey, and the rest is history!
It’s been very interesting to see Poe Dameron’s parents take a more prominent role in the series, if only to expand the Rebellion beyond a roster of 6 people! So while the first flashback fleshes out these characters, the second one gives us the introspection and helps verbalise something not expressly stated in the original trilogy: why Leia loves Han.
It’s amusing to think about Rebellion gossip, and also the idea that Lando is one of the groups biggest offenders, but it’s also a good way to explore the couples dynamic through the lens of someone who doesn’t know both of them really well.
To explain the reason she loves Han so much Leia tells her own story set in Echo Base, the Rebel hideout on Hoth, up until the events of The Empire Strikes Back. Han notoriously complained about the cold regardless, but on this occasion, the heaters had died and the base was going to be unsurvivable. In response the whole base was cramped on ships.
The reactor the crew used to fix the heating cracked from the cold. The colder it gets the closer it gets to overloading, and in a matter of minutes the base will be melted and irradiated.
Luckily, the broken reactor is adapted from a YT-2600 model Corellian Freighter, a newer version of the Millennium Falcon’s model. Han and Chewie jump into action, grabbing the spare part and heading into the fray. The duo light a fire to try and slow down the decay of the core to buy them time. It goes about as well as a Han plan does, and they advice Leia to evacuate all occupants in ships and stand-by in case they fail.
Leia waits in silence and the issue slows down the pace for an entire page, letting us feel her emotions, the tenseness of a situation that she’s so heavily invested in.
Leia goes onto explain that even though Han complains he still stays, he does what’s right, and he has saved the entire Rebel Alliance more than once.
Stories like this expand on why Han commands so much respect at the Endor planning meeting in Return of the Jedi. Leia has no time to elaborate though as both her and Kes are interrupted by good news. Shara is alive, she was able to hide out deep in the inner workings of the Star Destroyer and is covertly gathering information from inside the ship.
We’ll have to wait and see what information Shara has collected for the Rebels and how they plan to rescue her!
This issue, while slower than the rest in this arc, provided some more emotional weight to the series. It’s welcome added depth to Kes and Shara as characters, rather than just Poe’s parents, while also expressing Leia’s need to save Han, which is a much needed touchpoint throughout these events that don’t directly involve searching for him. The flashback stories themselves don’t work in a vacuum though, bolstered up by the Leia-Kes premise surrounding them, the stories aren’t perfect and really only work to serve the emotional touch points of the story. Mixing up the group dynamics though is a big plus and this issue excels at it!
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