Wasting no time whatsoever, writer Jason Aaron and artist John Cassaday put Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in conflict with one another, as lightsabers clash again in "Star Wars" #2. Dubbed "Skywalker Strikes," this chapter of the continuing adventure of Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 takes place on a moon housing an Imperial weapons factory.
This issue opens with Luke squaring off with Vader, a scene readers most likely didn't expect to see this early in the series, but one that Aaron uses to seed the story to come while also investigating the gap between Luke's current abilities and Vader's mastery of both lightsaber and the Force. The characters sound familiar in Aaron's story, as the writer uses situations that bring out familiar voices and established opinions, like Leia ordering Han Solo around while he takes it as nagging, Luke calling upon Ben for guidance and Vader wavering as he begins to remember a life now lost. Aaron resists the urge to lift sayings and settings wholesale, but some of his innovations seem less on target, like Han Solo using a word like "blithering." The general tone of each character remains locked into place throughout "Star Wars" #2 as Aaron gives readers a solid, fun adventure with an outcome that is as mysterious as a story couched between two well-known films can possibly be.
Aaron's writing makes the characters feel refreshed while Cassaday's art calls upon some iconic moments, poses and expressions from those characters. Occasionally, Cassaday springs the trap of drawing the most recognizable, on-model reimaginations of characters, like the opening image of Luke Skywalker waffling between bravery and fear as he screws his courage down to face the ultimate foe. Unfortunately for Cassaday, successful delivery of iconic near matches makes the improvised panels seem woefully less polished. Luke's profile varies but, so long as Cassaday draws him straight on or two-thirds straight-on, the likeness to young Mark Hamill is uncanny. Familiar settings, creatures and gear all shine with Cassaday but new, never-before-seen aliens seem rigid and hurried. When he's on-target, though, Cassaday makes "Star Wars" #2 a classic "Star Wars" tale for the ages, and Laura Martin's colors help lock the stronger pieces into place and into memories. Nowhere is this more powerfully evident than when Vader is illuminated by a blue lightsaber on one side of his face and a red lightsaber on the other.
Aaron and Cassaday are clearly having fun with this adventure. They insert enthusiasm and intrigue into this tale, giving readers a fun adventure that nicely adds to the blossoming galaxy far, far away.