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Now that Ania Solo and Jedi Knight Jao Assam have started their space road trip to track down renegade Sith Darth Wredd, it seemed like Star Wars Legacy was about to settle into a straight-forward story. However, writers Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman make an interesting change in Star Wars Legacy #11 by shifting the focus to Ania Solo’s past. This sets up a potential new ground for story and explores Solo’s relationship with her shipmates in an intriguing way.
The issue begins with a scene where two individuals who seems more or less like loan sharks are searching through the debris of Solo’s old haunts looking either for clues to her whereabouts or items they can sell for profit. Not only do they find neither, they are confronted by a mysterious figure demanding to know where Solo is. It appears to be a woman but we cannot see her face (due to a helmet) and she whups up the loan sharks using something that seems like a cross between a light sabre and Wonder Woman’s magic lasso. The whole time she demands to know “Where is Ania Solo?”
The question that begins to emerge for readers throughout the rest of the issue, though, isn’t so much where Solo is (we know that) but who exactly she is. We encounter a number of things in this issue that make us question how much we really know about her. First, after a failed attempt to ride a Yarthul while their ship is docked, Ania is confronted by Jao, who has found a poster listing her as wanted for the murder of an Imperial Knight. Solo claims ignorance of the incident and it seems initially that she’s been framed.
Then later Solo, Assam and their partners, mechanic Sauk and pilot droid AG-37, encounter Ramid, an old associate of Solo, and his crew. That Solo and Ramid immediate exchange a deep kiss when seeing each other suggests that they may have been more than associates. However, Ramid’s presence raises even more questions to Assam and Sauk. He doesn’t seem like someone a junk dealer such as Ania would meet. Also, his story about mechanical problems on his ship doesn’t wash. Ania seems, as well, to be hiding something. When she’s kidnapped by Ramid’s crew, it’s hard to know the exact motivation of anyone.
I like that the creators are taking Star Wars Legacy into this direction by exploring Solo’s background. Not only does it seem potentially interesting to get more of her backstory (especially since she’s a descendent of Han and Leia), but making her a mysterious wildcard adds suspense to the current story. This issue effective raises a number of story questions. And these are not the “what’s going on here” confusion questions. They’re the good kind of “ooh, I wonder where this is going” questions. Is Ania whom she claims to be – a junk dealer? What’s up with the supposed murder of an Imperial Knight? What’s the relationship between Ramid and her, and what’s she hiding about it?
Co-scripter and artist Gabriel Hardman does especially good work in this issue. It’s diverse issue, and Hardman delivers strong illustration elements in each part of the story. He makes the female hunter at the start look intriguing and badass. He has some fun with a humorous scene where Sauk attempts to cover his eyes – though it’s difficult since they are on the sides of his head. Hardman also offers a lovely panel of Solo and Ramid kissing. The cover kiss, by Agustin Alessio, is also quite nice, but I prefer the interior panel, with its use of chiaroscuro. The body language in the kiss is perfect as is Sauk’s shocked expression in the next panel.
The characters in this series are really growing. We see Solo being more unpredictable and even reckless at times, and she may be covering her past. Sauk is full of heart and humor. AG-37 is so capable that he can throw out wonderfully deadpan lines like “We are perfectly safe… I am an excellent pilot.” Even straight man Jao has his moments. I recently wrote about what the loss of the Star Wars franchise means for Dark Horse Comics, but I’m still really looking forward to seeing what Bechko and Hardman have in store for Ania Solo and pals in the rest of Star Wars Legacy.