Comic Review: “Star Wars” #75

When the Star Wars Expanded Universe canon got rebooted after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, the ostensible idea became to create a more cohesive timeline for A Galaxy Far, Far Away– with a standard of  continuity maintained across all platforms, including movies, books, video games, television series, and comics. And now that we’re reaching the conclusion of the first five years of that new Star Wars storytelling initiative, I can say how impressed I’ve been in the efforts of all the creatives involved (not to mention the detail-oriented Lucasfilm Story Group) while also admitting that there still feels like a bit of a hierarchy across this wide variety of media.

75 issues in (and with its climactic final issue having been released today), Marvel Comics’ current main Star Wars title has remained consistently entertaining since its launch in 2015, though it never quite came to the point where the stories felt like they genuinely congealed with the iconic movies that surrounded them. Set between the events of Episodes IV (A New Hope) and V (The Empire Strikes Back), the narrative gymnastics on display here were often fun and true enough to the Star Wars characters and environments we know and love, but they still too frequently felt like officially licensed fan fiction to fit comfortably within the established universe.

Star Wars #75 (written by Greg Pak with art by Phil Noto) concludes the “Rebels and Rogues” arc that began over the summer and also serves as Part II of “Destination: Hoth,” the plotline that gets the Rebel Alliance closer to inhabiting the frozen planet where Empire begins. We pick up where #74 left off, with Chewbacca grappling with Darth Vader on the asteroid K43, and Han Solo en route in a shuttlecraft accompanied by Princess Leia and her ex-boyfriend Dar Champion. Our heroes are intent on luring an Imperial Star Destroyer to its doom by blowing up the asteroid when it comes near, but complications on the surface are getting in the way of the mission.

Luke Skywalker helps Chewie take on the Dark Lord of the Sith, the gang reunites and faces off with Vader and some stormtroopers, C-3PO bids farewell to his new rock creature friends the Kakrans, and the explosion countdown deactivated last issue gets an unexpected kick-start again, meaning certain doom for all who don’t escape K43 as soon as possible.

This is an energetic, entertaining issue with appropriately high-ish stakes considering it marks the end of this era of Star Wars comics. But who are we kidding? The story picks up again in next month’s Empire Ascendant one-shot and then the series’ numbering gets reset to #1 again for new tales set between The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. So the real question here is have these exploits been interesting enough to warrant reading (not to mention purchasing) more? I believe the answer is a qualified yes, considering the past half-decade of this publication has produced quite a few memorable moments mixed in here and there with some forgettable fluff.

And I’ve said this before, but I also think it’s silly how many times Luke and company have come into direct contact with Darth Vader during this period. While that’s not outwardly contradicted in the next movie, it does feel a little excessive that the-Sith-formerly-known-as-Anakin-Skywalker would have this many encounters with his estranged son between the Battles of Yavin and Hoth. It means that while he’s sending out those probes to find the rebels at the beginning of Empire, he had only just run into them recently on K43, plus a number of run-ins prior to that in the interim years. It kind of deflates the urgency of his search if they keep happening to cross paths, doesn’t it?

That said, it can be easier to allow for these stories to exist if we can all just admit that the Star Wars comics are just-for-funsies and don’t really hold the same dramatic weight and canonical importance as the events of the films, or even the excellent new live-action Disney+ series The Mandalorian. I think if we can accept and embrace the idea that not all Star Wars is necessarily equal, it will help less consequential output like Marvel’s comics go down easier. Maybe then instead of looking for deeper meaning or mythological significance here, we (and in saying “we,” it’s entirely possible I’m mostly talking to myself) can simply enjoy a collection of pleasantly amusing new adventures with some of the more familiar and beloved characters from Star Wars history.

Star Wars #75 is available now wherever comic books are sold.

Mike Celestino
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 all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.