Luke contemplates his future with the Force as the Empire ravages Jedha. However, Han and Leia might have a trick up their sleeve in Star Wars #41.
This article discusses plot details for Star Wars #40.
Star Wars #41
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 brings the Star Wars series closer to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. No longer is the Empire scrambling to re-organize after the Battle of Yavin. Darth Vader cemented his place in the Imperial hierarchy some time ago. Now, the Empire looks to crush any resistance. That means developing a new weapon capable of destroying the Rebellion once and for all. Therefore, the Empire returned to Jedha. In part IV of “The Ashes of Jedha,” the Imperial forces unleash a new monstrosity on Jedha in the hopes of collecting the resources they need. Han, Leia, and their Partisan allies react while Luke contemplates his future with the Force in the pages of Star Wars #41.
The Continent Class Crawler
The Rebellion thwarted the Empire’s previous attempt at mining Jedha. Queen Trios brought a citadel drill from Shu-Torun only to watch Han, Leia, and the Partisans destroy it. That was just a warm. For their next attempt, they deploy something larger: a Continent Class Crawler capable of strip-mining the planet. Of course, Han is unaware of what this is and boasts, “Let’s go have a look-see at the fancy-pants soon-to-be junked secret weapon.” His reaction upon seeing it capture the humor of Star Wars perfectly when he says, “Okay, this may be harder.” Indeed, this crawler is immense.
Ubin, a Rebel specialist attached to the Partisans, takes the first attempt at destroying it with an explosive. It doesn’t even scratch the treads. After that, she needs rescuing. This is where Kieron Gillen demonstrates his cleverness as a writer. Anyone could have written a scene where Han swoops in with the Millennium Falcon to save the day. Gillen takes it to the next level. Han and Leia board a speeder (think the snow speeders from The Empire Strikes Back) and make use of the famous tow cable to yank her to safety. This was perfect. Han was in Luke’s element. It worked very well by blending something readers knew about his Han (his ability to fly and cockiness) and mixing it with something new (Han in a Rebel flight helmet at the controls of a speeder).
Once Ubin is safe, Han and Leia challenge her on her decision. She responds that, “We have to be able to make sacrifices.” The natural response about time and place would come from Princess Leia. However, it is Han that replies. His answer is resounding: “We only give ourselves up when there is no other choice.” In other words, don’t be foolish.
Compare this Han to the Han Solo from the last act of A New Hope. That Han nearly left the Rebels with his payment when the Death Star showed up. He wasn’t interested in suicide or the cause. Of course, he had a change of heart and returned to save the day. If his last second heroics failed, he likely would have sacrificed himself. The growth Han experienced in A New Hope carried over into Star Wars #41.
The Mysteries of the Abyss
The other storyline of this issue concerns Luke and his pilgrimage with Chulco Gi to meet the Cult of the Central Isopter at the edge of the blast crater. It is a terrible place in which the dark side of the Force tempts any that make the trip. The Cult tempts Luke to meditate here. They know there are no Jedi to teach him. This is all there is. Luke and Chulco take the risk.
Luke tells the cultists he won’t heed the call of the chasm. He is afraid of losing himself. Chulco is not so fortunate. After succumbing to the influence of the dark side, he attacks Luke, forcing the young Jedi to kill Chulco in self-defense. With his dying breath, Chulco admits he stumbled and the dark side took him, but most importantly, despite the strength, it wasn’t worth it.
In response, Luke realizes he is bumbling. In his desperation to become a Jedi, he too has been stumbling in the dark. Like Chulco, he is at risk of falling to the dark. Also, he realizes he must be patient and he may never become a Jedi. The cultists respond with approval and they recognize his importance. This lesson is perhaps the best lesson Luke learned in the entire run of Star Wars. The lessons are certainly better than anything he learned from Obi-Wan’s journal.
Final Thoughts on Star Wars #41
On first read, Star Wars #41 isn’t terribly impressive. However, after a second read and some reflection, the genius of this issue becomes apparent. Luke’s lesson gets a little lost with some of the babble from the cultists at the beginning of the issue. However, once a focus is placed on his revelation, it makes so much sense. Luke learned a valuable lesson that he immediately put to use in rescuing Chewbacca.
In addition, Han’s development was perfect. He is still the same scoundrel with the same sense of humor, but he has grown as a character. Han isn’t static. This issue is a great bridge between the Han Solo of A New Hope and the Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. Gillen’s run on Star Wars has been a shock for some readers, but it really seems like he is just warming up. Has provided room for growth for all the characters that was needed.