The Rebellion scrambles to save the fleet in Star Wars #51.
This article discusses plot details for Star Wars #51.
Star Wars #51
Writer: Kieron Gillen | Artist: Salvador Larroca | Colorist: Guru e-FX | Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles | Cover: David Marquez & Jesus Aburtov | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia
In Star Wars #50, Darth Vader unleashed the full force of the Empire on the new Rebel fleet. He was aided by Queen Trios’s betrayal of the Rebellion. In part II of the “Hope Dies” story arc, the Rebellion begins to scramble to save the fleet and escape the fury of the Empire. Hope isn’t dead yet. Leia acts quickly, and a famous smuggler shows up at just the right time to give the Rebellion a chance. Star Wars #51 continues one of the best story arcs in Star Wars since Marvel reacquired the license.
Leia Flips the Script
In the last issue, Leia quickly figured out Queen Trios had a role in the sabotage of the Rebel’s fleet. In Star Wars #51, she assembles a boarding party and storms the Queen’s ship. This reversal of what happened at the beginning of A New Hope. Instead of hiding from the invading Imperials, she is leading the charge. The Queen’s guards crumple before Leia and the Rebel soldiers. However, Trios flees in an escape pod. Although not identical to Leia hiding the plans to the Death Star in Artoo and him ejecting from the Tantive IV in an escape pod, it is similar.
The best part of this scene is Leia’s confrontation with Trios. The Queen made it to the escape pod just before Leia caught up with her. Even though Leia blasted the door lock, it didn’t prevent the Queen’s escape. Their confrontation is through a small window on the pod’s airlock door. It frames their faces, which are then surrounded in black. Leia simply asks “why?” Trios makes it clear, she is safeguarding Shu-Torun. Her people. Their future. It will never be another Alderaan. In response, Leia promises Trios will pay. This confrontation is some of Kieron Gillen’s best work.
Han to the Rescue
Once Trios escaped, the Rebellion needed another way to free their fighters from the hangars. Although they couldn’t get past the lockout on the system, they know a ship broadcasting a Rebel frequency would trigger the proximity detector and open the hangar doors. The problem is they don’t have a ship capable of eluding the Empire long enough to do it. Enter Han Solo.
Even though he makes a show of balking at the task, Han is up to it. He sends Chewbacca to the guns and charges towards the Rebel fleet. One gets the feeling that he is confident and cocky enough to pull it off. However, he talks about the degree of difficulty to impress Leia when he finally does pull it off. Han’s rescue attempt starts well enough. He takes the fight to the Star Destroyers on his initial run. Then he picks up some TIE fighters. No problem. Chewbacca makes quick work of them.
Unfortunately, the Millennium Falcon catches Darth Vader’s attention. The Dark Lord has a score to settle. Therefore, he takes to the fight in his TIE fighter. The issue concludes with Vader lining up the Falcon for a shot.
The Art and Pace
Star Wars #51 almost reads like the story board for a Star Wars film. Salvador Larroca and Guru e-FX provide spectacular art. Although there is some evidence of photo referencing, Larroca appears to make use of his own interpretation of Leia, Han, and Luke in this issue far more often. Then there is Darth Vader. He only appears in four panels of Star Wars #51, but his final appearance is spot on in the cockpit of his Advanced TIE Fighter.
As good as the character art is, it pales compared to the art of the starships. Han Solo’s courageous run through the Imperial fleet while attempting to free the Rebel fighters is cinematic quality. The TIE fighter pursuit looks exactly as it should. A particularly outstanding panel comes when Chewbacca fires the quad cannons from the Falcon. Larroca’s art has taken quite a few hits from comic readers recently, but the art of Star Wars #51 is worthy of recognition.
The pace is just right. Things move at a fast clip throughout the issue. However, Star Wars #51 never loses the reader. Leia’s plan is clear. Han’s attempt to free the fighters is easy to follow. The urgency of the situation permeates the entire issue.
Concluding Thoughts on Star Wars #51
Kieron Gillen began writing Star Wars comics with Darth Vader #1. He has written several entertaining and engaging stories along the way. Gillen is responsible for Doctor Aphra and her adventrues. Of all his stories, the current “Hope Dies” story arc seems the most like something one might expect to see on screen. Star Wars #51 and the prior issue capture the cinematic look and pace of the movies. One can almost hear John Williams’s score while reading these issues.
Star Wars #51 continues the steady march from A New Hope to The Empire Strikes Back. After their victory over the Empire at the Battle of Yavin, the Rebellion finds themselves in dire straits. Even though the reader knows many of the major characters will survive the Empire’s trap, there are consequences to this issue. General Willard perished with his ship in the prior issue. General Bandwin Cor, who was first seen in Rogue One, died attempting Leia’s rescue plan in this issue. Although neither were first tier characters, they weren’t created solely for this story arc either. This story promises plenty more action and consequences as the Rebellion struggles to escape the Empire.
Dennis Keithly is a graduate of the University of Missouri, North Texas attorney, husband, father of two, and co-host of Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels. In addition to Star Wars, Dennis is a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes in general. When not engaged in fictional universes, Dennis is reading a good book or watching the NHL, football, or studying the NFL draft.