WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Star Wars #55 by Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca, Guru-eFX and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
In Star Wars lore, the Rebel Alliance boasts several characters who are considered legends across the various movies, cartoons, novelizations and comics. You'll always hear them talking about the likes of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and going even further back, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi.
However, within this body fighting for galactic freedom, there are stalwarts like Admiral Ackbar and Mon Mothma who, while they may not have had the same screen time as the aforementioned characters, are the foundations upon which George Lucas' Resistance was built. They were there from the start, shaping the dream and spreading hope.
In Star Wars #55, we finally witness the last hurrah of one of these bedrocks, the man widely regarded as the greatest General the rebels ever had: Jan Dodonna.
We first saw General Dodonna in 1997's A New Hope, played by Alex McCrindle, as the man who came up with the plan for Luke and the X-Wing fighters to blow up the Death Star. He knew how to exploit its weak spot and engineered the full-scale assault. Sadly, after the rebels' success, he wouldn't appear in The Empire Strikes Back, with Star Wars canon later making it known he died between movies. But when we saw a younger version of him in the prequel Rogue One (played by Ian McElhinney) helping Jyn Erso and Co. plot a way to steal the Empire's Death Star schematics, it became obvious we'd eventually see how he met his demise.
The character was present in Star Wars Rebels, and when he didn't die there as the series ended, all fingers on the timeline pointed toward Marvel's Star Wars comics. Lo and behold, this moment comes in the conclusion to the aptly titled arc "Hope Dies," where so many key figures perish in this precursor to The Empire Strikes Back. General Draven was killed in the last issue at the hands of Darth Vader as the rebels were finally able to escape Mako-Ta's orbit and Vader's Death Squadron.
Issue #55, however, sees the rebels returning to Mako-Ta, with Dodonna realizing he can't leave anyone behind. Han, now officially an X-Wing pilot, joins Luke and his Rogue Squadron to rescue those who didn't make it out, but Vader's ready. He anticipated their return and tries to block them in again. But, as is the rebel way, Dodonna takes his cruiser, known as the "Republic" (in tribute to the galactic governing body which existed before the Empire), and bears the brunt of the damage. It effectively acts as a shield, taking all the hits while the other rebels flee, poetically gifting them all hope.
Eventually, the flagship is destroyed with Dodonna and his crew on board. The rebels who are saved include Hera Syndulla (a main player in Rebels), and Leia's entourage. So, now we know why Dodonna wasn't seen again on the big screen, and once more, why he's revered as a military strategist and the greatest General the Alliance ever had. He always put the cause first and his death secured the future of the Rebellion, even if temporarily.
It's a shame we didn't see Dodonna go out in a blaze of glory on the big screen like Admiral Holdo did in Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi. As it stands, though, it was a hero's death and one which helped his soldiers live to fight another day in their quest to liberate the galaxy.