The war returns to Jedha in Star Wars #38.
This article discusses plot details for Star Wars #38.
Star Wars #38
Writer: Kieron Gillen | Artist: Salvador Larroca | Colorist: Guru e-FX | Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles | Cover: David Marquez & Mathew Wilson | Assistant Editor: Heather Antos | Editor: Jordan D. White
When Jedha last appeared in Star Wars, the Empire just destroyed the Holy City as a successful demonstration of the terrible power of the Death Star. Now, in Star Wars #38, the war returns to Jedha. Luke, Han, Leia, and the Droids seek out the reformed Partisans. Meanwhile, the Empire has their own reasons for returning to Jedha. Those reasons are shrouded in mystery, but they require Kyber crystals. However, the Empire deems the Imperial commander in charge of Jedha’s performance lacking. Therefore, they bring in a specialist familiar to Star Wars comic fans as the new story arc “The Ashes of Jedha” begins.
Kieron Gillen Takes Over
Starw Wars #38 marks the debut of Kieron Gillen as the series writer. Known for his work on Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra, Gillen brings a gritty, and sometimes humorous, take to Star Wars. As he did on Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra in the past, he collaborates with Salvador Larroca. The pair bring elements from a variety of Star Wars sources in crafting this tale.
For instance, Star Wars #38 begins on the surface of Jedha. A pair of Partisan soldiers take cover behind a crashed speeder. Star Wars fans should recognize this speeder as the same as those employed by the Rebellion on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. In addition, the Imperials attacking them wear snowtrooper gear. Plus, the Partisan soldier named Ubin wears gear reminiscent of that the Rebel Pathfinders utilize in Return of the Jedi. If that wasn’t enough, the Imperials pursue Luke, Leia, and the Partisans in an Imperial transport commonly seen in Rebels.
Gillen and Larroca have several other elements from other Star Wars sources spread throughout this issue.
Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus introduced Star Wars audiences to the Guardians of the Whills in Rogue One. Greg Rucka further fleshed the Guardians out in his novel Guardians of the Whills. Gillen included an aspirant to the “Disciples of the Whills” in Star Wars #38. The Whills have always been an elusive concept to Star Wars fans. There is no full explanation of what the Whills are, and fans largely must speculate on their importance. Chulco Gi is the aspirant in this issue. However, his journey is incomplete. Chulco Gi needed to meditate in the sacred temple for a month to complete his task. That is an impossibility now that the Empire destroyed the temple with everything else in Jedha City.
Chulco Gi is a nice call back to Chirrut Imwe. Like Chirrut, Chulco trusts in the Force. In a conversation with Luke, he notes that Jedha is dying and the universe screams. Regardless, “this must be as the Force wills it,” and therefore, he must have faith in the Force. He and Chirrut likely would have gotten along just fine if Chulco hadn’t intertwined his destiny with that of the reformed Partisans so tightly.
The Fate of Jedha
Star Wars #38 demonstrates that even a low power blast from the Death Star is enough to decimate a planet. From the moon NaJedha, where the Rebels established a camp, they observe Jedha. A quarter of the planet is missing. The blast from the Death Star pierced the mantle. As a result, Jedha is poisoned and dying. The luckless Commander Befa struggles to keep up with the Empire’s demands for Kyber from the planet.
In an attempt to resolve this problem, the Empire assigns Commander Kanchar to Jedha. Kanchar is a large, bald man with an artificial arm. Like Darth Vader, he has little tolerance for failure. Also like Vader, he punishes incompetence with lethal means. After relieving Befa of his command, and life, he turns to Queen Trios. She may seem familiar to readers. She first appeared in Darth Vader Annual #1 and then appeared in issues 16–19 of Darth Vader. Queen Trios was Vader’s hand chosen ruler of Shu-Torun, a world with an inhospitable climate crucial to the Empire for its resources. Kanchar brought Trios to Jedha as an adviser. If anyone can retrieve Kyber from the dying planet, it is she.
An aside about Queen Trios: in the Shu-Torun war, Darth Vader sliced off her right hand with his lightsaber. When she last appeared, she had a clearly cybernetic replacement. However, in this issue, she has a biological looking right hand. While it is possible this is a continuity error, it is also equally possible she received a new artificial hand similar to Luke’s hand after The Empire Strikes Back
The mystery is what does the Empire need with more Kyber? Readers can only speculate for the moment. However, Star Wars fans know the Empire is busy with the construction of another Death Star at this time. Therefore, it is fair to guess the Kyber is needed for the new super weapon.
The Reformed Partisans
Leia brought Luke and Han with her to Jedha in the hopes of recruiting the Partisans. She tells Ubin, a former member of the Rebellion, that now more than ever, the Rebel Alliance needs to be an alliance. This is a far different sentiment than that held by Mon Mothma and Leia’s adoptive father, Bail Organa. The former senators disavowed Saw Gerrera and his ways. As recently seen in Rebels, Mon Mothma states that Saw’s tactics have no place in the Rebellion. By employing the Empire’s methods, they lose themselves and are no better than the Empire.
Therefore, Leia’s mission to Jedha is a curious one. Does Leia have Mon Mothma’s blessing for this mission? If so, what changed her mind? Is it because Saw Gerrera is gone? Ubin, for her part, doesn’t entirely believe this is feasible. She tells Leia it will be difficult, and that she never met brutes like the Partisans before. Furthermore, the conclusion of this issue reveals that one of the Two Tubes brothers, possibly Benthic, is in charge of the Partisans. The Tognath brothers were fiercely loyal to Saw Gerrera. In fact, Benthic states they continue in the spirit of Saw Gerrera, and that they should kill these Rebels.
Concluding Thoughts on Star Wars #38
Kieron Gillen wasted no time making his mark on Star Wars. This issue is excellent. Jason Aaron’s last issue successfully pulled the Star Wars story in a darker direction. Gillen’s first issue as the lead writer successfully brought it into the vein of Rogue One. In addition, Gillen expertly tied several different Star Wars stories together including The Empire Strikes Back, The Shu-Torun War, Rebels, and The Empire Strikes Back. “The Ashes of Jedha” moves the Star Wars story forward towards The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Some of the previous stories tread water. That isn’t to say they had no value, but they weren’t necessarily as important to the saga.