It’s another record-breaking week in the history of Star Wars comic books. Today saw the release of seven new issues from across the franchise’s storytelling timeline, so please bear with me as I take my time going through them.
First up is issue #34 of the current volume of Marvel Comics’ flagship Star Wars title written by author Charles Soule.
Now that the Kezerat Colony arc has come to a close, Star Wars #34 sees Luke Skywalker looking to take the next step along his path to becoming a full-fledged Jedi Knight. The issue opens with him pondering the nature of Kyber crystals and wondering how he might go about repairing the temporary yellow-bladed lightsaber he’d been using recently, or perhaps finally building his own. He can’t return to Ilum because it’s heavily occupied by the Empire, so he decides to set out to the planet Christophsis (which first appeared in The Clone Wars animated pilot movie)– supposedly the second-most likely place to find a new crystal. Leia doesn’t want him to go, as the Rebel Alliance is planning an “offensive” against the Empire (she’s dressed closer to what we see in Return of the Jedi, so I assume that means we’re getting closer to the beginning of that movie’s events), but Luke heads out with R2-D2 anyway, saying he “needs this.” On Christophsis, the would-be Jedi wanders into a local cantina and asks the bartender where he can acquire some rare crystals, which prompts a sudden massacre from an unseen blaster-wielding source. Then we meet a new character named Gretta, who claims to have been born on Jedha and to be a follower of the Jedi, to the point where she was monitoring Luke’s progress as potentially the only remaining member of the extinguished Order.
Gretta says the denizens of the bar would have captured Luke and sold him to the Empire, but he’s upset that she wiped them all out. She offers to bring him to find some actual Kyber nearby on the planet, and Luke is hesitant to accompany the killer but eventually relents. Along their journey on Gretta’s speeder, they’re attacked by a giant lizard-like creature, and Luke’s yellow lightsaber is on the fritz again. He attempts to use the Force to calm the beast, but is interrupted by an explosion. Out of the dust steps the doctor known only as Cuata, who was introduced in Star Wars: Catalyst – A Rogue One novel back in 2016. Cuata once worked alongside Galen Erso as an expert on Kyber crystals, and evidently in the wake of the Death Star’s creation he has settled on Christophsis to continue his research. That gives us this month’s cliffhanger ending, with Cuata requesting that Luke hand over his current lightsaber, and next month’s cover promising that Skywalker may wield both red and green-bladed laser swords. That should be taken with a grain of salt, however, as this issue’s cover showed Luke grasping what I assumed to be a green Kyber crystal in his closed fist, energy spilling out. That misdirect aside, this is another terrific issue by Soule and new artist Madibek Musabekov (Star Wars: Obi-Wan), and I’m very glad to see forward momentum happening in Luke’s story. Plus, as someone who read and enjoyed Catalyst seven years ago, I was excited to get that connection to the James Luceno novel as well. The only thing I didn’t understand was why Luke apologized to Artoo in the bottom panel of the following page. Can someone please explain that to me? I’m very confused.
Star Wars #34 is available now wherever comic books are sold.