|Released: 28/07/21||Publisher: Marvel Comics|
Though it may be named after one small set of characters, The Skywalker Saga and stories set within it will always be ensemble pieces. Charles Soule’s approach to his run has truly embraced this, bringing on board a wealth of new characters, reintroducing some old ones and occasionally taking some time away from whoever has been the focus of the last few issues to show what’s going on elsewhere in the galaxy. #15 is one of these issues, as we wipe transition from the main action of the War of the Bounty Hunters to see what Starlight Squadron, with Luke Skywalker in tow, have been up to. And while this issue may carry the overarching event’s name on its eye-popping cover, the story here is mostly separate from it and acts as a nice palette cleanser before hopping back into the action with the next issue of the central mini-series as we near the halfway point.
While it may be an almost standalone story, ‘Friends and Enemies’, as issue 15 is known, is densely packed – a huge dogfight makes up a good chunk of its duration, yet it’s still full of well thought out dialogue and character moments as Luke relives the destruction of the Death Star and finds that lightning doesn’t always strike twice. Ramon Rosanas brings a frenetic feel to the battle and his layouts make for tense, fast-paced reading, almost as nail-biting as the famous trench run itself.
Starlight Squadron continue to be an engaging and fun element of Soule’s run, bringing Wedge Antilles right to the foreground, where he deserves to be. Considering how many strong, memorable, and iconic existing characters form the core of this title, Soule has done an incredible job of introducing a whole crop of new ones and making the reader genuinely care about them.
His role as a writer on The High Republic also continues to have an influence – hope is a key theme of the original trilogy, so giving little nods to a period where the Jedi were at the height of their powers fits right in with this. Also, fans of Soule’s High Republic novel, Light of the Jedi, will get a kick out of the setting of this story. It’s satisfying to see some of the newest parts of the canon intertwining with what has been in place for over 40 years.
TIE fighters vs. X-wings, a desperate rebel last stand and an explosive finale make for possibly the most breathlessly exciting issue of this outstanding run so far. Soule provides some outstanding character moments and fun action, and Rosanas provides one of the most balletic and intense dogfights ever committed to the page, with many of his panels in glorious widescreen. While they and the rest of the team across the current Star Wars titles may be excelling at telling a broad, sweeping story right now, this slight detour proves that this comic is in just as rude health when almost the whole story is contained in just a handful of outstanding pages.
Review by Nathan Harrison, 30/07/2021