The Rebels complete their mission to Jedha. Dennis discusses their new alliance in his review Star Wars #43.
This article discusses plot details for Star Wars #43.
Star Wars #43
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
Star Wars #43 marks the successful conclusion to Kieron Gillen’s first story arc for Marvel’s Star Wars title. “The Ashes of Jedha” moved Han, Luke, and Leia past the characters that appeared in A New Hope and closer to the teammates and family that inhabited The Empire Strikes Back. All three of these characters resolved issues that lingered for the previous thirty plus issues of this book. In addition to character growth, Star Wars #43, and “The Ashes of Jedha” in general, moved the galaxy past the cat-and-mouse state of the war the Rebellion and the Empire found themselves in.
General Summary of Star Wars #43
Leia, Luke, Han and Benthic’s Partisans launched their attack on the Empire’s crawler. Everyone moved into position, but then Luke encountered Commander Kanchar and Queen Trios cornered Princess Leia. That left Han Solo in a leadership position with the remaining Rebels and Partisans. However, Queen Trios reveals she is a Rebel sympathizer and pledges to aid the Rebellion from behind the scenes. Luke combats Commander Kanchan, who swaps his cybernetic arm for a model with an axe and flamethrower. The Rebellions successfully sabotages the crawler and steers it towards the chasm created by the Death Star. Han Solo and Ubin then pilot the Millennium Falcon to extract the Rebels after Luke disabled Commander Kanchar with an ion pulse.
Leia Accepts Another Dimension of Leadership
Leia’s growth was a little subtler than Han and Luke’s. If anything, Leia experienced trust issues with friends. Accustomed to being in control and calling the shots, she never truly trusted or believed Han and Luke would or could do the right thing when it came to the Rebellion. This issue emerged time and again. However, this series saw her release her grip on command a little. More specifically, she trusted Han, and furthermore, she saw what she liked. At a key moment, Han devises a plan necessary for the completion of the Rebellion’s mission. Rather than wait for orders or permission, Han takes charge. Luke questions Han’s ability to give orders, and Leia responds, “I like it. It suits him.” She has always suspected Han was a natural leader. She’ll eventually tell him as much in The Empire Strikes Back. However, she usually didn’t trust him enough to let him lead like this. Accepting Han’s growth and abilities is her evidence of her growth as a leader.
Leia Finds an Unexpected Ally
Perhaps the largest surprise from this issue was the Queen Trios reveal. Since her debut, Trios played the loyal Imperial supporter. Darth Vader placed her on the throne after assassinating her father and siblings. She accepted the crown in a fashion that seemed very Game of Thrones, and even summoned Imperial support in the past. However, Trios explains her loyalty was forced. She tells the tale of how Darth Vader presented her a chunk of Alderaan as a reminder of what the Empire would do to those that opposed it. In other words, she had no choice.
In retrospect, this development should have been obvious. Gillen presented it very well. This moves opens plenty of story telling opportunities for Star Wars going forward. Not that Star Wars can or necessarily should focus on Queen Trios, but the Marvel Star Wars titles in this time period need room for expansion. Characters such as Trios and Kanchar offer plenty of options without forcing every story to rely on the Rebels or Darth Vader.
Luke Trusts Himself
During the “Ashes of Jedha” story arc, Luke realized he might never become a Jedi. It was an important lesson. As long as he was looking primarily to the future, he couldn’t effectively act in the here and now. Also, he couldn’t always afford to look for the Jedi solution to the problem when he no idea what that solution was. So, although he wields his lightsaber in his confrontation with Commander Kanchar, he also relies on his instincts. When the Commander fires up his flamethrower, Luke runs. This is a far smarter and wiser Luke than that which appeared back in Star Wars #1, who insisted on confronting Darth Vader despite his inexperience.
Indeed, when Kanchar apparently cornered Luke, it quickly became apparent Luke lured him into a trap. Kanchar really only had one advantage: his cybernetic arm with the flamethrower. Luke triggered an ion torpedo, and thereby disabled Kanchar long enough for Luke to punch him and make his escape. In a bit of foreshadowed irony, Luke remarks that cybernetics “Until you turn them off.” Of course, he too will come to rely on a cybernetic limb in the future.
Han Embraces Leadership
With some gentle prodding from Chewbacca, Han accepted a leadership role in Star Wars #42. In addition, Han previously delivered a lesson on sacrifices to Ubin back in Star Wars #41. Heroes only sacrifice themselves when there is no other choice and it is necessary. Despite the lesson, Ubin prepared to pilot the crawler off the cliff to prevent the Imperials from stopping it should they retake the bridge. Han is having none of this foolishness. He takes Ubin with him, and they pilot the Millennium Falcon just close enough to the crawler’s bridge so that the Rebels can make a last second escape. However, the old reliable Han Solo gets to shine. It was some crazy, perhaps foolish, flying, but he pulled it off. He even had a classic moment by presenting Ubin with his medal from Yavin IV, which just happens to be a copy he had made.
Concluding Thoughts on Star Wars #43
Star Wars #42 was a successful conclusion to the “The Ashes of Jedha” story arc. It was also the conclusion to Kieron Gillen’s first arc for Star Wars. Compared to previous story arcs, the story telling maintained a better pace with revelations spaced more evenly throughout the arc. In addition, although Luke, Han, and Leia revisited previous themes concerning their character growth, many of those issues reached a resolution in this arc. Leia learned to keep faith in her friends. Han Solo accepted responsibility and leadership. Luke realized he can’t wait for a sign from the Force to show him the path forward. With these issues behind them, Luke, Han, and Leia are prepared for bigger adventures that will lead them to The Empire Strikes Back. One can hope they keep to the path.