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It’s been known for some time that Dark Horse Comics would be losing their long-standing license to make Star Wars comics. The end for one of the franchise’s comics comes this week as Star Wars #20 brings that series to a close. Although issue #20 does wrap some things up nicely, as a conclusion to the series, the end is rather underwhelming.
In the last issue, Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Chewbacca and Han Solo ventured out in the Millennium Falcon to find Seren Song, a deep undercover rebel agent, but she is also pursued by a bounty hunter, the droid IG-88. In this issue, Seren, unwittingly leads IG-88 right to The Falcon and crew. Initially the droid seems untouchable, as his mathematical brain makes his ship’s movements so precise that the Falcon, even with souped-up artillery, can’t come close to hitting him.
However, IG-88 is not counting on Luke’s presence or his acuity with the Force. In a nice call-back to the end of Episode IV: A New Hope, Luke lets the Force guides his hands and mind as he shoots. He blasts the ship of IG-88, who cannot fathom how a human could hit him. Song tells Leia that the reason she stayed undercover so long was that she was able to obtain planetary surveys, which hold the key to the Rebels finding a home where the Empire can’t easily find them.
This plot point does neatly wrap up some of the work writer Brian Wood has been doing in the 2nd half of the series, showing the Rebel Alliance struggles to find a base of operations. This was the whole point of the disastrous deal with Arrochar. Now, the Rebels can find a safe base. In wrapping up recent plot threads, the issue works pretty well. And it does show the four core Star Wars characters acting close to their movie characterization.
However, while there are elements that would have made this issue a fine story arc close, Star Wars #20 is not the epic conclusion to a series that fans will have wanted. Darth Vader and the Empire are nowhere to be seen. There is a lot of set-up and exposition and relatively little action. Even though Star Wars was only covering a brief time between Episode IV and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, there was still a way to make the series end more exciting rather than the underwhelming one we get.
It’s impossible to know from the outside how much Brian Wood had planned for this series. Star Wars #20 does feel, in some ways, like the rug has been pulled out and this issue is an arbitrary end. Still, most of the last quarter of the Star Wars series has been plagued by focus and direction issues. It’s a disappointing way to end the series, which was pretty excellent for its first 15 issues.
There have been a number of artists on Star Wars during its 20 issues, and Carlos D’Anda has been on the series for a stretch of issues. I don’t think he was the best artist to work on the title but he is certainly capable. Star Wars #20 is actually one of his better issues. His characters’ faces here are well emoted, there are a number of interesting p.o.v. choices in panels, and the action sequences are excitingly depicted. His style is a bit cartoony, though, which is even more noticeable with Hugh Fleming’s gorgeous and realistic cover.
All in all, Star Wars was a good series, both for hardcore fans and comic book readers who’ve just watched the movies. For whatever reason, it lost steam over the past few months, though, and the conclusion is pretty anticlimactic. It’s unfortunate that a series that was on its way to be a great limped to a close. Star Wars #20 is a decent issue and better than some recent ones, but as a series capper, it doesn’t hit the mark.