The Rebellion isn’t going down without a fight. Find out how desperation sparks motivation in Star Wars #53.
This article discusses plot details for Star Wars #53.
Star Wars #53
Writer: Kieron Gillen | Artist: Salvador Larroca | Colorist: Guru e-FX | Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles | Cover: David Marquez & Marte Gracia | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia
Star Wars #53 dials the intensity up as the Rebellion desperately searches for an escape from the Empire at Mako-Ta base. With Queen Trios’s help, the Empire sabotaged the Rebellion’s cruisers and disabled them. In the previous issue, Han Solo employed an old smuggler’s trick to fend off Darth Vader and deliver the secret that enabled the X-Wings to escape from their cruisers and take fight the Imperial fleet. In this issue, the fight continues, and Rogue Squadron starts spreading the news. Meanwhile, Leia and the Rebellion command discover the key to overcoming Trios’s sabotage. There is just one problem: they have to travel to Vader’s flagship, the Executor to get the code needed to make it all possible. The war rages on in Star Wars #53 as Luke, Leia, Han, and the Rebels fight for their very survival.
The Space Battle
Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca combine their talents to bring readers a phenomenal space battle. Salvador lays the panels out in a very cinematic fashion. The majority of the panels are similar to the dimension of the movie screen. In addition, closeups alternate with action shots of the X-Wings, TIE fighers, the Millennium Falcon, and the Star Destroyers. Plus, Larroca paid careful attention to organizing the ships into formations. The result is something readers would expect to see on screen. The fighting is intense and the Rebels suffer casualties that highlight the desperate reality of their situation. However, they are game for a fight, and hope isn’t dead yet.
A Masterpiece of Color
Also worthy of note is Guru e-FX’s use of color. Space is bright in this issue. It makes sense. Mako-Ta base orbits a nearby star. The star looms in the background of many of the panels. Instead of relying on black to fill the void of space, e-FX uses dark reds and orange. It sets this battle apart from many others.
e-FX carries over the excellent use of color to the ship interior. When Leia and Mon Mothma discuss their plan to infiltrate Vader’s Star Destroyer, the primary light source is the instrument panels for their cruiser. These panels glow blue throughout the room. The blue light impacts the overall color, as one would expect it to, in the room and Mon Mothma, Leia, and the other Rebel officers present are highlighted in blue. Perhaps this praise is overstating it, but it is the attention to detail that makes this issue spectacular. Colorists are often underappreciated, but they contribute a great deal to the success of the art in any issue of a comic. Star Wars #53 is no different.
One of the challenges Star Wars faced as a monthly comic from the beginning is creating urgency, suspense, and consequence. As everyone knows, this series finds its place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Therefore, there is no real threat to Han, Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, and the droids. None of these characters are ever in any real jeopardy. So, what are the stakes in this series?
Part of the answer to that question has been found in the introduction of new characters such as Sana Starros. Also, just because the main characters of Star Wars are safe doesn’t mean some of the others are. In Star Wars #50, for instance, General Willard died when the Empire destroyed his cruiser.
In Star Wars #53, Gillen introduces a similar possible fate for General Draven. Leia takes it upon herself to infiltrate the Executor and retrieve the code necessary to overcome the Imperial sabotage of the Rebel fleet. Draven accompanies her. As the issue concludes, Leia, Draven, and some special forces soldiers arrived in Vader’s personal hanger. Unfortunately, Vader arrived just after they did. Draven doesn’t appear in any movies outside of Rogue One. Therefore, it is possible he meets his fate in this story arc.
In addition, Gillen paced the destruction of the Mon Cala cruisers perfectly in this issue. Just when things start looking up for the heroes, another cruiser explodes. The fleet that Leia worked so hard to assemble is slipping away from the Rebellion. Vader provided the source of this story arc in issue 50 as he let terror build in the Rebellion before unleashing the firepower of the Empire on them. This issue doubles down on that. Hope slips farther and farther away as the ships of the Rebellion disappear one at a time.
Final Thoughts on Star Wars #53
Although Star Wars #53 largely concerns itself with Rogue Squadron’s fight against the Imperials, there is plenty going on. Han Solo proves he is a Rebel through-and-through by nearly sacrificing the Millennium Falcon for the cause. His beloved freighter takes so much abuse that Han compares it to the aftermath of the Kessel Run from Solo: A Star Wars Story. In addition, Han can hardly claim he is in it just for the money anymore. When he does land the Falcon (albeit upside down in a hanger), he calls for “anything with wings.” He must rejoin the flight. This isn’t a man that is abandoning his friends.
Leia again proves how committed to the cause she is. She accepts responsibility for Trios’s betrayal and insists on leading the mission to recover the code needed to free the Rebellion. If there is one drawback to this part of the story is that she is in Vader’s cross hairs again. Luke, Leia, and Han encounter Vader with an alarming frequency. How Gillen handles the resolution of this plot point will be worth noting. Vader risks looking ineffective if the Rebels continue to escape his clutches. “Hope Dies” is near the peak of storytelling in the Star Wars series, and it shouldn’t be missed by fans.
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.