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For the first few issues of the current story arc of Star Wars, the true threat has been slow to develop. It’s been relatively clear from the start that Arrochar, the planet where the Rebel Alliance is seeking to set up a new base, has not been all that claims to be. There has been some sort of threat lurking beneath the surface. In Star Wars #17, it finally becomes crystal clear that Arrochar has been in cahoots with the Empire. Furthermore, the Empire is coming to Arrochar in order to take out the Alliance.
That the Arrochar government has a deal with the Empire is first specifically explained to Luke Skywalker by a helpfully-expository Arrochar alpine troop just before he and his compatriots open fire on Luke. However, it seems that they did not expect Luke to be so capable of deflecting their blasts with his light sabre. Still, they melee causes Luke to slip over the side of the mountain. Like any good bunch of incompetent evil-doers, they assume Luke fell to his death without visual evidence (which, of course, he did not). He escapes to warn Princess Leia, who is about to get married to Prince Kaspar of Arrochar, that the marriage is, in the immortal words of Admiral Ackbar, “a trap!”
He’s delayed in getting to Leia, but it doesn’t really matter because the Empire begins their assault. In the previous issue, they left an unnoticed drone in Arrochar orbit. In this issue, it explodes, demolishing half of the royal castle. Luke had told the Arrochar alpine troops that the Empire would not leave their planet unscathed, and it looks like he’s been proven right. Leia and Rebel leader Mon Mothma make it through the initial assault, but the issue ends with a fleet of Empire ships descending on Arrochar to finish the job.
This issue was a welcome change of pace from the previous issues of set-up. We’ve finally gotten to the point of action, and Star Wars #17 is full of action. While there are some familiar storytelling clichés – such as the aforementioned “monologuing villains” – the issue is still very enjoyable because of its brisker pace and the releasing of the plot set-up tension. Having the Empire/Arrochar trap spring on multiple fronts at the same time gives the story a lot of impact, even if it’s not always clear what the Arrochar group thinks they’re getting.
The art by Stephane Crety is mostly strong, and the inks by Julien Hugonnard- Bert and the colors Gabe Eltaeb are also well executed. The team produces a look that is quite “comic booky,” but it fits the story. I’d still like to see something more exotic from Arrochar (it essentially seems like Earth), but the action is handled nicely. The cover of the issue, from Victor Manuel Leza, is somewhat different, done in a more realistic manner. Leza’s version of Luke looks quite similar to Mark Hamill, though the composition is a little awkward. It almost looks like Luke tried to high-five the alpine troop and not only was left hanging was instead kicked in the chest.
I feel that Brian Wood took a little longer than was necessary in setting up this story arc, meaning that the previous few issues of Star Wars were less exciting than normal. Now that the plot has turned, however, I think we’ll see the series get back to its action roots. As the series moves towards its conclusion, hopefully we’ll have the Empire, and especially Darth Vader, become a bigger focus.