||Thoroughly impressive, all the way
through, but especially when dealing with the main character.
The artwork was what struck me first of
all. It was very nuanced, with lots of shadows and graininess to it. The
artists took a lot of time to give us lots of details, not in the usual
sense, as in background objects, but in pebbles in the sand on Tatooine,
and the very many stars in the sky. Every scene that has stars was very
impressive, as it also contained a dark blue and other contrasting
The story of Biggs Darklighter starts
just before the events of A New Hope. The scenes at Fixer's garage were
my least favorite, for the same reasons that they were cut from the
movie. It is, however, nice to see them in some form, anyway. Biggs'
training at the Imperial Academy is shown side-by-side with Luke's
development as a person, as he gains his independence from his friend.
Biggs becomes disillusioned very quickly with the Imperial navy,
especially after hearing a speech by Moff Tarkin. It gets worse when he
meets his arrogant new captain on the Rand Ecliptic. The man is a true
representative of the Empire. He even has a pot belly stretching his
uniform! When he congratulates the pilots on destroying a cargo ship
full of children who didn't have the proper authorization papers,
because it reduces paperwork for them, Biggs
figures he has to do something.
The mutiny on board the Rand Ecliptic
has been told elsewhere, I believe. The most likely place is the Star
Wars Trilogy Sourcebook, but I don't recall the exact story. I believe,
however, that this one is different, though along the same lines. We
even get to meet Hobbie Klivian, whom we otherwise met during the battle
of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, and who becomes an important member
of Rogue Squadron. Hobbie is among the other rebel cells on board the
Imperial picket ship who lead the mutiny. In this version, Biggs is off
the ship when the mutiny started, though he was the one who triggered
Once among the Rebel Alliance (we
aren't told how they finally found the rebels), they use their TIE
Fighters as decoys to steal some X-Wing fighters. We get a summary of
the events in the Rogue Squadron prequel comic, where the Rogues steal astromech droids to pilot the ships through hyperspace.
There are also some cool "explanation"
moments, where we learn why Hobbie didn't get to fly against the Death
Star, since he was on Yavin IV at the time, and where Biggs was all the time before he met Luke as they were
about to fly off. I don't recall Hobbie having a mechanical arm and leg
through the comics or Rogue Squadron novels, but apparently I must have
missed that. What an unlucky guy! On Yavin IV, he also gets an infection
from one of those wounds, which spreads to his whole body. Biggs and
some friends go out into the jungle to find a plant that can possibly
cure him. They are still out when the Millennium Falcon arrives. There
is a strange scene where it is implied that Biggs might have
Force-sensitivity, which is too much for me to take -the authors are
implying that almost everybody has the ability to command the Force,
which is something I disagree with on principle. But if I recall
correctly, one of the books or comics from the past has hinted that
creatures like the one encountered here are the ones with the
Force-sensitivity. Biggs gains the antidote, but Hobbie is not well
enough to fly against the Death Star when it arrives. We all know what
happens to Biggs during that mission.
My major complaint about this graphic
novel is the amount of narrative boxes, trying to give us the form of a
real text novel. I didn't think all of it, or even most of it, was
necessary. It tried to give us mood and emotions, as well as thoughts,
but these might have been better given as thought bubbles, and we can
see the emotions on their faces. It intruded a little too much for my
Appended to the story of Biggs
Darklighter is The Short, Happy Life of Roons Sewell, which I read
separately, on another day, which might have affected my mood. This
story interested me less than the Biggs one, but it was well-told
nonetheless. It deals with a former General with the Rebellion, and how
his ruthless life in poverty turned him into the kind of person who
hated the abuse of authority that the Empire represents. His young life
wasn't very interesting, and with a little too much graphic violence. When his love
is killed by his actions, speaking out against the repressiveness of the
Empire as a satirical actor, he took up arms against them. When he
decided that he needed to become more organized than a one-person
menace, he found an organization that had the same objective as he did.
But he was quick to make rash decisions. When they worked out well, they
were spectacular victories. When they were too rash, he eventually died.
But he was well-respected and loved by all, especially the man who
succeeded him, Jan Dodonna, whom Sewell had rescued from the Empire
earlier in his life.
Both stories have a tragic note to
them, but Biggs has the better one, because of his connection to Luke, I
think. But given the storytelling ability of the people involved in
both, I think the readers would be well-served to get more from them. I
liked this issue a lot, and look forward to more character-driven
stories in the future.