I’ve been singing the praises of Marvel’s Star Wars writer Charles Soule for a while now, and this week I actually had the pleasure of meeting the man himself. I’m thrilled to report he is as kind in person as he is talented, and after chatting with him for a bit I couldn’t wait to pick up his latest release– issue #3 of the main Star Wars comic book, which relaunched its numbering at the beginning of this year for a new batch of stories set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

In Star Wars #3, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa return to Bespin’s Cloud City with the help of its (former?) Baron Administrator Lando Calrissian, a guy who they’re admittedly still learning to trust after he betrayed them to Darth Vader– out of necessity, of course. Luke is in search of his lost lightsaber, which dropped with his severed hand during the lightsaber duel with his newly revealed father, Lando wants to make restitution with an old friend he feels he abandoned, and Leia accompanies the two ostensibly to keep an eye on a certain scoundrel, but also to complete a covert mission of her own.

Prior to joining up with the three “L”s of Luke, Leia, and Lando on their adventure, we learn more about the villainous Commander Zahra of the Galactic Empire and her Star Destroyer Tarkin’s Will. This capital ship actually has a fairly interesting backstory, though I don’t recall any Star Destroyers being visible in the immediate vicinity around the Death Star during the Battle of Yavin, so this story point may count as a retcon. Still, it’s nice to give the crew of Tarkin’s Will (apparently the former Fortitude) a motivation to find and destroy the Rebel Alliance fleet beyond orders from their superiors.

It’s very cool to see what’s become of Cloud City in the aftermath of Empire, though Lando doesn’t have much trouble dealing with its new Imperial leadership– initially, at least. Luke finds his quest to be a little more daunting than he was expecting, and Leia sneaks around the Carbon Freezing Chamber to gather some much-needed information she’ll utilize later on in the timeline. This issue is mostly setup for the remainder of the arc– subtitled “The Destiny Path”– still to come, but it’s still fun to follow along as our heroes infiltrate a familiar but now-more-threatening location.

The cliffhanger ending of Star Wars #3 is maybe just a little silly, and definitely not quite as exciting as the final pages of issue #2 were, though we are steadily learning more about how the practice of carbon freezing sentient beings came into popularity among the Empire (presumably then spreading throughout the galaxy) a number of years prior to its usage by bounty hunter Din Djarin in The Mandalorian. The history of this process in-canon is still sort of perplexing, however, as there is an episode of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars that depicts Jedi Knights including Anaking Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi freezing themselves in carbonite in order to evade the detection of vital signs. I guess it’s just one of those practices that comes and goes.

Despite this being essentially a foundational issue, getting all the moving pieces in place for whatever comes next, Soule’s writing and the art by Jesus Saiz are still top-notch, and the creative partnership continues to capture the tension-filled mood and general foreboding atmosphere of the post-Empire era perfectly.

Marvel’s Star Wars #3 is available now wherever comic books are sold.