We have officially come full circle. The barriers of multi-media marketing have melted away, and we're left holding a bizarre product of cross-pollination in our hands, a comic book designed to expand one of the most celebrated fictional universes in the zeitgeist while also servicing as a tie-in to a theme park. Seriously.
While it is not without its merits, in the end, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge #1 feels like a cynical cash grab. Which at this point is, admittedly, par for the course when it comes to the vast majority of branded merchandise. But this... this is different.
It's easy to dismiss the cynicism around Star Wars products with some sort of practical purpose (looking at you, Yoda steering wheel cover). Everyone needs things like socks and Band-Aids, and if having little Vader helmets on them makes you feel better, there's nothing wrong with that. After all, the franchise has been slapping images of its iconic characters on everything from breakfast cereals to bed sheets for over forty years. But the problem with Galaxy's Edge is not inherent to its own existence. Plenty of superfluous Star Wars comics have cluttered the shelf for years; after all, there was as much trash as there was gold in the Dark Horse Comics days. The issue here is, it's difficult to discern just who the hell Galaxy's Edge is for in the first place, or why it was created. Is it to give fans even more Star Wars? Is it designed to entice people to flock to the upcoming Star Wars-themed area of Disney World? Is it for fans of Sarlaccs? What. Is. This?
Star Wars: Galaxy Edge #1 is a flashback story, bookended with a group of new characters dealing with a smuggler/antiquities dealer named Dok-Ondar. The meat of the story centers around how Dok obtained a baby Sarlacc -- you know, the big mouth in the ground that swallowed Boba Fett in Return of the Jedi. And how was this baby monster procured? Well, Han Solo and Chewbacca got it for Dok, of course!
Despite the lackluster box office numbers of Solo: A Star Wars Story, we could always use more Han Solo stories, but what Star Wars fans could really use is some new blood and new locations. Seeing the faces of unfamiliar characters Remex, Kendoh, Wooro and the previously mentioned Dok-Ondar is refreshing, but once the issue diverted back to the same well of mythology, things sour. That's not to say the story is bad. It's fine. But if there are going to be new characters introduced, why not focus on them? Do the people behind this comic think fans are more interested in how Sarlaccs are raised than getting to know new characters in the Star Wars Universe?
Dono Sanchez-Almara and Protobunker do a fine job with said characters' designs, and Han Solo sure does look like Harrison Ford, so that box is checked. But while the new character certainly look cool, they don't have enough page time to really matter in any meaningful way. Arguably the best part of Star Wars: Galaxy Edge #1 involves Chewbacca flexing his might against a group of Dowutins. Also, this might be the first instance of Chewie doing some sort of aerial martial arts move, which is kind of awesome, so kudos for that. Ethan Sacks does what he can with what he has to work with in the Han story. He writes dialogue that sounds like something Captain Solo would say, but the new characters don't really speak with any personality or intent. Outside of their interesting appearances, they're all just bland. If we're going to be introduced to what are essentially characters you may see in a Cantina scene come to the forefront, you had better make them at least a little interesting. No such luck here.
Now, if you were a discerning purist, you could argue any sort of exploration beyond the core Star Wars films is superfluous. The movies have a certain canonical regency that's hard to argue with. They are gospel and are consumable without the need of supplemental material. But where's the fun in that? If creators never explored the massive galaxy George Lucas created over forty years ago, the majority of fans would think Boba Fett is a useless character who just happens to look cool (let's be honest with ourselves; that's all he is in the Original Trilogy). With taciturn characters or passing references to worlds and species in the film, there leaves a lot of room to explore, but the franchise has a long history of answering questions no one was asking, and Star Wars: Glaxy's Edge #1 is a prime example of it.