AUTHOR: ETHAN SACKS / ARTIST: WILL SLINEY / PUBLISHER: MARVEL / FORMAT: SINGLE ISSUE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
2019 is an exciting year for Star Wars fans; as well as the saga concluding in Episode IX and the launch of small-screen spin-off The Mandalorian, there’ll also be the chance to enter the galaxy far, far away ourselves when the Galaxy’s Edge area opens at Disney’s California and Florida theme parks. This’ll be set around Black Spire Outpost on planet Batuu, a haven for smugglers and black market merchants. To build up hype for the launch of the parks, Marvel have begun a five-part comic miniseries also titled Galaxy’s Edge.
Ethan Sacks’s story begins at the time of the sequel trilogy. First Order ships appear above Black Spire Outpost just as new character Kendoh and her criminal gang meet with antique collector Dok-Ondar, seeking his help in locating a certain treasure. Dok-Ondar first shows them one of his prized possessions – a sarlacc. That’s the big sand monster from Return of the Jedi, but this one’s just a baby, so fits in a tank. The story then flashes back to the time of the Galactic Empire, and tells us how Dok-Ondar recruited two smugglers – Han Solo and Chewbacca – to find the wee creature for him. The bulk of this issue, then, is Han and Chewie on a mission to some other planet, during which they naturally run into trouble and fight for their lives.
This flashback is a routine and predictable adventure which suffers from the problems you’d expect: it’s too brief go into much depth, and it’s not able to find anything new to say about Han and Chewie, who, like many of the original films’ iconic characters, have been exhaustively covered by spin-off media already. It feels like it was a commercial decision to include the well-known characters – putting Han and Chewie on the cover gets more people to pick up this theme park advert.
The parts of the story which do intrigue are those set in the sequel era, and the issue leaves us with questions about what it is that Kendoh seeks and why the First Order are on Batuu. It’ll be interesting to see how well the following issues play the story out, though if the flashback structure stays the same – and it looks like it will, with similar one-offs for Greedo, Hondo Ohnaka and Doctor Aphra – it may struggle to satisfyingly develop this new world in the five or six pages per issue it’s allotted.
Will Sliney’s art is the issue’s strength: though the Harrison Ford likeness isn’t always perfect, the Black Spire landscapes have lovely detail, action scenes are clear and dramatic, and the baby Sarlacc is fierce.