The reality of Jedha sinks in for Luke Skywalker in the pages of Star Wars #39.
This article discusses plot details for Star Wars #39.
Star Wars #39
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
“The Ashes of Jedha” story arc continues in Star Wars #39. After surrendering themselves in the last issue, Han convinces Benthic Two Tubes that he, Leia, and Luke shouldn’t be executed. Leia then persuades Benthic they need to unite and oppose the Empire and their search for new resources. Meanwhile, Commander Kancher and Queen Trios plot the extraction of kyber crystals from Jedha while discussing various forms of command theory. The issue ends after Luke learns exactly what is at stake on Jedha after fighting stormtroopers in the street. Star Wars #39 continues an interesting tie-in story that combines elements of A New Hope, Rogue One, and other new canon material. Kieron Gillen continues to make Star Wars a must read title.
Gillen Gets Han Solo
Han Solo is not the primary character of this issue. However, Kieron Gillen’s characterization of Han is spot on. In The Force Awakens, Han remarks to Chewbacca, Rey, and Finn that he’ll talk his way out of trouble when the Kanjiklub and Guavian Death Gang board his freighter. He believes in his powers of persuasion and fast talking. He mixes just the right about humor, forcefulness, and street logic and achieves his desired result. For instance, at the beginning of the issue, he, Leia, and Luke are at Benthic Two Tubes mercy with their hands bound and hoods over their heads. Han talks them out of it with a humorous remark (“Well…this got tense”), adds some street logic (“Listen–you’re either going to trust us or not. If you trust us, you’ll take these hoods off. If you don’t, you’ll shoot us, so it doesn’t matter whether you leave the hoods on, take them off or anything else!”), and finishes with some forcefulness (“So take off the damn hoods!). Luke was surprised it work, but he shouldn’t have been.
Another instance of Han’s humor arises when Ubin formally introduces them to Benthic. After giving Leia’s royal title and naming Luke’s heroic deed in destroying the Death Star, Ubin stumbles a bit in trying to come up with a remark of distinction about Han. She says, “This is Han Solo. He…helped? I think.” Han replies, “Thanks a lot.” Salvador Larroca’s art perfectly conveys a Harrison Ford-esque look of scorn.
Finally, when the Empire launches their drill citadel that begins their kyber crystal recovery operation, Luke and Benthic confer on a course of action. Han senses a conflict with Luke and Benthic’s growing influence. Rather than try and talk Luke out of it, he intercedes. In a wonderful reference to Ubin’s introduction of Han, he states, “Hey, haven’t you heard? Destroying really expensive imperial equipment? That’s Luke’s and my specialty.” It was a fantastic gesture of friendship that highlights Gillen’s skills as a writer.
The Partisans and the Rebellion
“The Ashes of Jedha” story arc has obvious connections to Rogue One. From the moon of Jedha itself to the collection of Kyber crystals, this story blends the first Star Wars Story with A New Hope to create something distinct from both. In addition, it continues adding elements from other Star Wars stories. For instance, Benthic casually refers to an incident where “Saw Gerrera once bombarded a party of collaborating civilians with flechettes just to send a message to the Imperials.” By itself, that is a horrible sounding attack. However, readers might recognize it from Beth Revis’s novel Rebel Rising. Jyn Erso witnessed that attack and was nearly caught up in it.
Luke takes his role as a Jedi very seriously, and this news shocks him. Surprisingly, Leia takes it in stride. She already explained that the Empire is mining kyber crystals again. They know kyber crystals were important to the Empire’s Death Star, and therefore, they are willing to aid anyone that will stop the Empire from getting more. This includes the Partisans. As discussed last week, Mon Mothma and the Rebellion denounced Saw Gerrera and his Partisans before, so what has changed? Was the reveal of the Death Star enough for the Rebellion to set aside its morals and conscience?
Luke, Han, and Leia still have a wildcard. Actually, it is a pair of wildcards: R2-D2 and C-3PO. While Leia, Luke, and Han negotiated with Benthic, the two droids hid behind the Millennium Falcon. Perhaps it was just a reminder they were there, or perhaps they have a larger part to play later. Regardless, the Rebellion’s sudden willingness to endorse the Partisan’s brand of Rebellion is puzzling.
The Imperial Industrial Machine
While the Rebels and Partisans plot their next move, Commander Kanchar and Queen Trios discuss the Empire’s next steps. Commander Kanchar explains that Gerrera was extremely efficient at intercepting and hoarding the Empire’s kyber crystal shipments on Jedha. In addition, when the Death Star fired on Jedha, it ended up burying a very large cache of the crystals, and therefore, they need the Queen’s drill citadel to retrieve it.
Ironically, while Kanchar holds contempt for nearly every Imperial officer he encounters, he admires Saw Gerrera. Why? First, Saw was competent. He got things done. Furthermore, Saw didn’t allow “ethical weakness” get in his way. Kanchar demonstrates they are kindred spirits just a few panels later when he solves the “civilian problem” on Jedha by declaring it a prohibited moon. Therefore, anyone on Jedha is now a Rebel and subject to extermination.
This behavior brings to mind the opening crawl of Revenge of the Sith. “There are heroes on both sides, evil is everywhere.” Although the Empire fails in the heroic department in this episode, both sides demonstrate at least a little evil. Kanchar’s evilness needs no further elaboration. However, the Partisans’ willingness to kill fellow Rebels and Kanchar’s description of Saw provide ample evidence of the evil on the side of the Rebellion. Plus, Luke seemingly slips towards the dark side of the Force when he attacks stormtroopers in the streets of Jedha. He shouts, “Murderers!” while attacking from behind and slaughtering the stormtroopers where they stand. His emotion gets the best of him, and as Yoda reminds audiences, anger leads to hate…
Concluding Thoughts on Star Wars #39
Kieron Gillen put his stamp on Star Wars with issues #38 and #39. As he has done in Doctor Aphra and Darth Vader, Gillen created interesting characters and interesting discussions with room for character growth. In this story arc, Luke has the most potential. Jedha is a world, or moon, tied closely to the Force. In addition, it is the home of the Rebellion’s most morally dubious faction. Much like Ezra in Rebels, Luke has the potential to be go astray whether it is because of his anger leading him down a dark path or the tactics of Saw’s partisans somehow resonating with him. A larger story seems to be in play as well with the Rebellion, as represented by Princess Leia, courts assistance from the Partisans. Perhaps it is just a desire to unite all the factions, or perhaps there is a larger scheme in place. Regardless, this story is filled with potential.