Jason Aaron, Leinil Yu and Gerry Alanguilan kick off a new arc in “Star Wars” #16, which follows up on the events from “Vader Down.” They lead off with action, as Leia Organa escorts the captured Dr. Aphra to one of the more exotic locales seen in the franchise: the titular “Rebel Jail.” Meanwhile, Han’s scoundrel ways get himself and Luke caught up in some new trouble.
Aaron wastes no time getting into the plot, with Yu tensely rendering parallel sequences in alternating panels. It’s a simple technique that works well in introducing the story and establishes that plenty is going on without creating any kind of confusion. Yu’s images are laid out like a series of unrelated still captures, conveying the multitude of simultaneous occurrences in frozen moments rather than motion, and it works as a great attention-grabber for readers. Aaron keeps the characters engaged for the most part throughout the balance of the story. Alanguilan’s inks contain their usual scratchy texture, but the introductory pages look surprisingly clean and are further textured with Sunny Gho’s subtle color shifts.
Yu and Alanguilan seem to get a little lax later on; the facial likenesses aren’t as crisp is some places, and the team seems to use shadow and texture to obscure features as much as enhance them. However, they shine when it comes to constructing a prison housed within a sun. The layouts spanning opposing pages is epic in scope, as if the creative team was going for another celestial-sized idea like Starkiller Base. Though the outside is vague and mainly carried by Gho’s appropriately solar-hued colors, the inside is exquisitely detailed.
Of course, anyone who has ever read a story involving a prison knows what happens shortly after its cocky head honcho brags about its security, so it’s no big surprise what happens next, although the way it happens is. Yu gets to design some impressive armaments for this sun-drenched prison break, although the extent of the scene is presumably saved for next issue. The action here gives way to Han and Luke’s escapades, which are more for comic relief so far than anything else. Aaron’s comedy is actually a little forced; Han seems to have a game of Sabacc well in hand, but — in the very next panel — he and Luke are on the run. The sequence reads like a few panels are missing, and Han could have just as easily lost the game to put him and Luke and their current predicament without seeming so contrived.
“Star Wars” #16 is worth picking up, both for Terry and Rachel Dodsons’ cover and Yu’s interiors, as all creators involved get another new story arc off to a nice start.