Star Wars #9

Luke Skywalker might not be a Jedi yet in "Star Wars" #9, but he's not just going to stand there and yell "Stop, thief!" when his lightsaber gets jacked on the smuggler hideaway world of Nar Shaddaa. In fact, it gives writer Jason Aaron a great excuse to show just how adventurous young Luke can be, even unarmed, in well-choreographed story from artists Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger. Meanwhile, Han and Leia find themselves in a forced alliance with a woman claiming to be none other than Mrs. Solo, in an issue that continues to demonstrate Aaron's deftness with these classic characters.

Immonen starts off with an impressive spread of the smuggler's moon running along the top half of the page, a dusty, cluttered urban landscape with all manner of ships clogging its skies and streets and embellished in grimy earth tones by colorist Justin Ponsor. The bottom half of the spread is Luke's rooftop pursuit of the lightsaber thief, where Immonen makes great use of perspective to add some excitement to what otherwise might look like little more than a pedestrian foot chase. Immonen also ensures that Luke takes a tumble at one point, reminding readers that -- while his athleticism is most impressive -- he's not a Jedi yet.

In the outer rim, Han and Leia's effort to scout locations for a new rebel base were already complicated by the unexpected arrival of Han's supposed wife, but now Imperial forces have arrived to wipe them out. Aaron coordinates these three opposing camps with some literary athleticism of his own, staying completely faithful to the natures and personalities of the characters and establishing a plausible dynamic with Sana Solo. Leia's feisty, take-charge attitude, Han's exasperated heroism and Sana's snarkiness combine to make a terrific scene full of banter, which reads like it could have been from one of the film's screenplays. It's unfortunate that more of this interaction gets crowded out by Luke's plotline, but Luke's encounter with a Hutt who has an unusual hobby is just as engaging.

Immonen and Von Grawbadger get to expand on the mythos a little bit, as Aaron's script now brings in elements from both the prequels and the expanded universe, where this series had largely focused on characters and concepts from the classic trilogy. The artists' character design for Grakkus the Hutt adds a slightly different touch and makes this Hutt a little creepier than most. They also get to stretch their legs with another double page spread near the end of the issue, unveiling a surprising development regarding Luke's fledgling abilities. This layout also gives Aaron room to usher in a somber moment that reveals some background about the last days of the Jedi Order and stands to make an impact on Luke's character in future issues.

Jason Aaron, Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger's "Star Wars" #9 feels like a very natural extension of the original trilogy, taking baby steps towards expanding the characters and their situations while carefully coloring inside the lines of the movies.

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