Last week saw the release of issue #39 of the current volume of Marvel Comics’ main Star Wars title, and below are my brief recap and thoughts on this installment.
Star Wars #39 begins where the previous issue left off, with poor Lando Calrissian and his cyborg pal Lobot trapped between a rock and a hard place– that is, between a bloodthirsty Rancor and a gaggle of droids possessed by the evil A.I. known as the Scourge– in Jabba’s Palace on the planet Tatooine. Thankfully, the non-possessed droid they came to extract from the palace (we’ll call him Talky) knows how to temporarily incapacitate the Rancor, and the trio are able to climb up to relative safety in Jabba’s throne room. “But where is the mighty Hutt?” you may ask. He’s out surfing the Dune Sea in his Sail Barge with the rest of his menagerie, and when he learns that these “Dark Droids” have overrun his palace, he orders his goons to eliminate everything that moves once they’ve returned– except the Rancor, that is, at keeper Malakili’s insistence. So though the Talky droid urges Lando and Lobot to hustle on out of the palace, Lando wants to take a moment to apologize to his frenemy Han Solo, who still hangs on the wall, frozen in carbonite as Jabba’s prized possession.
Lando makes an excuse as to why he and Lobot can’t just unfreeze Han that very moment, and I’m not sure I buy it, considering the circumstances aren’t too much safer later on during the events of Return of the Jedi. But regardless, they leave Han behind and make their way out through secret tunnels provided by Talky, only to be overtaken by the Dark Droids once again. This time they’re not moving fast enough and Lobot gets abducted by the Scourge, with the intent of using the cyborg as a means to transfer its conscience from the “metal” into the “meat.” There’s another great moment of body-horror that carries over from the main Star Wars: Dark Droids miniseries, and Lando fails to retrieve Lobot as he and the Talky escape to the Millennium Falcon. We also get a quick flashback to a better time with Lobot and Lando on a heist to a lush tropical planet, and the issue ends on a somewhat hopeful note, with Lando vowing to rescue his friend.
I thought this was a really exciting issue with some terrific action– I could almost hear the sound effects and background atmosphere of Jabba’s Palace throughout the proceedings– and as always, writer Charles Soule is truly wondering at capturing Lando Calrissian’s (among other characters) voice in dialogue. My only minor nitpick as a Star Wars fan is that it seems unlikely that Lando would have visited Jabba’s Palace this many times between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi without bringing Han out with him, but I suppose that’s one of the pitfalls of trying to bridge that narrative gap while also bringing in familiar locations. There really isn’t too much more to complain about here: the art by Madibek Musabekov is terrific, and I’m absolutely loving the buildup to the galaxy’s various cyborgs becoming the new “big bad” as Dark Droids enters its back half.
Star Wars #39 is available now wherever comic books are sold.