Last month, the official Star Wars website ran a piece promoting the upcoming all-new arc of Marvel Comics’ main ongoing Star Wars title as the beginning of a new era, with a story that takes place just before the events of The Empire Strikes Back. As someone who has been vocally wishing for this series to take that leap, ushering its characters past the limbo of a post-A New Hope timeline, I was naturally excited to hear this news.
So today I strolled into my local comic shop and grabbed a copy of Star Wars #68, Part 1 of the “Rebels and Rogues” storyline, a yarn that separates our heroes into three groups on a trio of distinct missions. Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 are headed to the Inner Rim to lure Imperial probes (See? We’re already in Empire territory) away from a Rebel refueling station, Han Solo and Princess Leia are sent to a Core world to incite a conflict between a local crime boss and Imperial forces, and Chewbacca is taking C-3PO to blow up an uninhabited volcanic planet, and take some Star Destroyers along with it.
Han and Leia, unfortunately, are not on their way to Ord Mantell, as I had initially assumed when this arc was announced. Instead, they’re off to Lanz Carpo, a small planet known for its high crime rates and apparent current home of Leia’s former boyfriend. We can only cross our fingers that this is merely a stopover on the way to Ord Mantell, however, if Marvel’s Star Wars creative team and the Lucasfilm Story Group truly intend to follow through on their promise to bridge the gap to The Empire Strikes Back sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, Luke’s task has him en route to yet another desert planet (even he voices disappointment at the repetition) where his lone X-Wing starfighter fails to draw the attention of a Super Star Destroyer. He bemoans the absence of Obi-Wan and wonders how he will complete his task without help, but other than that we don’t spend a lot of time with the Jedi Knight-in-training this issue, though #69 will feature Luke on the cover, so we can assume he’s more heavily represented in the story next month.
The bulk of this issue’s action, actually, is spent with Chewie and Threepio, who make for as unlikely a pair as usual. The Wookiee and protocol droid’s contrasting personalities play well off each other, and writer Greg Pak (World War Hulk, Star Wars: Age of Rebellion) captures the fussbudget personality of the later perfectly. All of the characterizations are on point, in fact, with Han’s demeanor even being readjusted from prior installments back toward the cocky stubbornness we knew had to be coming by the time we get to the Battle of Hoth.
Speaking of Hoth, those looking for direct ties to The Empire Strikes Back won’t quite find them in this issue, but if the “Rebels and Rogues” arc continues as advertised, we should start seeing our Rebel friends exploring the icy plains of our favorite frozen planet sometime in the coming months. And with artist Phil Noto (Black Widow) aboard working alongside Pak, those landscapes will surely be as gorgeously rendered as the lava pits of K43 are here. I liked everything about this comic, so all I have to do is remind myself to be patient and enjoy the additional time we get to spend with a certain smuggler scoundrel in these pages before he inevitably gets frozen in carbonite.
Star Wars #68 is available now wherever comic books are sold.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.