Comic Review: Luke Skywalker Attempts to Heal a Corrupted Red Kyber Crystal in “Star Wars” (2020) #43

Today saw the release of issue #43 in the current volume of Marvel Comics’ flagship Star Wars title, which is set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Below are my brief recap and thoughts on this installment.

Star Wars #43 begins where the previous issue left off, with Luke Skywalker having traveled inside a corrupted red Kyber crystal using the Force, and with the assistance of his new friend Gretta and her Auntie Fee on the planet Christophsis. But first there’s an amusing bit of self-awareness in the opening text crawl, as though whoever wrote it (likely author Charles Soule, but I’m not sure) was maybe just a little annoyed that the ongoing storyline got waylaid in favor of tying in this comic with the recently concluded Star Wars: Dark Droids crossover event. Anyway, in the world of the Kyber crystal, Luke has been imprisoned by an ancient Sith being (who I wrongly assumed to be a woman last month, though Luke calls him a “him” this time, so my mistake) and forced to relive some of his past trauma like the deaths of loved ones and his father Darth Vader chopping off his hand in Cloud City.

You see, this unnamed Sith, whose Force echo resides within the Kyber, believes that our strengths are formed by our own personal tragedies, and Luke tries to persuade him it doesn’t have to be this way. So this issue quickly becomes much more of an introspective one than a plot-furthering one, and since it takes place almost entirely within the crystal, the focus is pretty much exclusively on Luke rather than cutting back to our other familiar characters. But that’s all fine and actually fairly compelling in practice, as we see the young Jedi figure out a way to patiently confront the Sith being’s psychic wounds, eventually winning him back over to the light. There’s also a cameo appearance by Vader himself, who morphs into a vision of Anakin Skywalker as Luke comes to the realization that there may very well still be some good left in his father as well.

So in a way, this is sort of an “imaginary” story that could be read as somewhat inconsequential to the larger narrative. But at the same time, it also kinda feels like it might serve as a weighty, poignant end to Luke’s between-movies arc as this comic inches ever closer to Return of the Jedi. Speaking of which, I have a pet theory– and I don’t believe that this has been announced yet, so please forgive me if it has– that this run of Star Wars (and its sister ongoing Star Wars: Darth Vader title) will end with issue #50 seven months from now, before taking a hiatus and returning with post-Jedi stories later on. I mean, that’s how I would do it, and this issue does conclude with the implication that Luke has decided to use the green Kyber crystal already in his possession to construct his new lightsaber. So what more do you need to wrap things up for young Skywalker? Next month: the trial of Lando Calrissian begins!

Star Wars #43 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.