Review: Star Wars Annual #2
“Star Wars Annual #2 doesn’t work just as a commentary on the price of war, but also a character study of how ideologies about war can be so conflicting, depending one’s point of view.”
Star Wars Annual #2
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Emilio Laiso
Release Date: Wed, Nov 30, 2016
In high school history classes, when teaching about the great wars of the Earth, many instructors tend to focus on the sweeping set pieces: the composition of the opposing factions, the key battles, the conflicting ideologies. And that’s all well and good; it’s necessary to learn about those points because they have importance and weight.
However, just as important is what the people caught in the middle are feeling. Thinking. What they think of a war they wanted no part of, but were affected by nonetheless. In the midst of war, not everyone is taking place in battle or growing a victory garden or burning a book. Some folks want no part of it, and their stories need to be told as well.
That’s why the anthropology/sociology nerd heart in me leapt for joy upon reading writer Kelly Thompson and artist Emilio Laiso’s Star Wars Annual #2, in stores today from Marvel Comics. Their story follows former engineer-turned-janitor Pash, opening the story with her lamenting the war between the Empire and the Rebellion and seeing no difference between the two.
Her cynicism isn’t without merit or warrant; the Galactic War has cost Pash her vocation and her agency. That’s why when she saves the Rebellion’s most famous princess and diplomat, Leia Organa, Pash is filled with so many conflicting feelings. Those feelings spill over into a full-fledged conversation with Leia about the belief in something greater than oneself and ideals that are worth fighting for, interwoven with action as Pash and an injured Leia make their way to a rendezvous point with some very familiar Rebels.
One key point (of many) that Thompson deserves credit for is presenting both Pash’s and Leia’s points of view toward the Galactic War without propping up either side as a straw man. There are very defined reasons that Pash and Leia look at the clash between the Empire and the Rebellion they do and, while readers will most likely side with Leia, Pash’s arguments make sense. As we see with Pash’s life early in the story, war can rob people of their ownership of their destiny and self-efficacy. War consumes not just cities and lives, but will and freedom of choice.
But that’s not the only reason Pash is resentful of Leia. As most folks who would read a Star Wars comic know, the Empire employed the Death Star to destroy the princess’ home planet of Alderaan. Pash doesn’t quite understand Leia’s response in the face of the death of her people: she continues on fighting for the Rebellion despite what it has cost her. However, when explaining why she presses on, we see a side of Leia that’s really on hinted at in the films: a woman who knows who she is, where she stands, why she fights, and what she thinks about herself, even if some of those thoughts are uncharitable or unfair to herself. Thompson does a phenomenal job of making us understand Leia in a way not often seen in the canon’s films.
Laiso’s linework beautifully sells what both Leia and Pash are thinking and feeling throughout the issue. This is not to disservice his contributions to the wide-stretching vistas he creates; the full-page spread of of vistas of Pash’s planet early in the book could have been plucked out of any of the films from the Star Wars saga. And when the action ramps up while Pash and Leia evade Stormtroopers, Laiso’s pencils convey the urgency at hand. However, this tale is, at heart, and emotional one, and that’s where his art excels even the already high bar he’s set for himself.
Star Wars Annual #2 doesn’t work just as a commentary on the price of war, but also a character study of how ideologies about war can be so conflicting, depending one’s point of view.
Star Wars Annual #2, written by Kelly Thompson with Emilio Laiso on art, is on sale now from Marvel Comics.
From the official issue description:
Princess Leia is on a top-secret dangerous mission that brings her to a planet that wants no part of the war against the Empire. But when an injury threatens to end her mission, can she inspire that rebel spirit in those who just want to keep their heads down? Writer Kelly Thompson (A-FORCE) and artist Emilio Laiso (GODS OF WAR) bring us an all-new tale of Alderaan’s last monarch in action!