Star Wars #16 Review: Smugglers And Suns


Star Wars #16
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Leinil Yu and Gerry Alanguilan
Colored by Sunny Gho
Published by Marvel Comics

After the events of “Vader Down,” you would think things in the comic book corner of the Star Wars universe would stop, take a breath and relax for a bit. But no. After another look into the journals of Obi-Wan Kenobi last issue, things ramp right back up to full speed in Star Wars #16, the first part of the new “Rebel Jail” arc.

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In the wake of Vader Down, the Rebel Alliance has taken Dr. Aphra, the closest thing to a ally Darth Vader has, captive with every intention of finding out everything she knows. To do so, they take her to Sunspot Prison, the Alliance’s very own holding facility. There Leia and new found ally (for the right price) Sana Starros argue ideology while a plan is already afoot to break Aphra out.

The opening chapter of “Rebel Jail” is a solid, if a bit pedestrian, Star Wars comic. Writer Jason Aaron has a firm grasp on his cast by now and knows how to maximize each to make for a great story. Most of the attention here is on Leia and Sana, and their rapport is developing quite nicely. There is also the beginnings of a subplot involving Luke and Han, but that is played for laughs for the most part and isn’t really important to the main story, at least not yet.

One highlight is getting to see Aaron write Aphra, who until now has been mostly the exclusive property of Kieron Gillen and the always enjoyable Darth Vader comic. He finds Aphra’s voice fairly quickly and there is no mistaking that this is her. Watching her constantly remind the Rebels that she works very closely with Vader and their non-pulsed reactions to the information is a fun bit that never gets old.

Star Wars #16 also sees the arrival of new artist Leinil Yu to the title. While his art here is overall very good and he does some great work with the likenesses of the cast and ships of the Star Wars saga, for me it’s a bit of a letdown.

In some places, the art seems very stiff and lacks any sense of motion. The faces also don’t really convey any type of emotion other than a snarl or grin, and Aphra, while she sounds like she should, doesn’t exactly look right. This could be just be a case of being very used to the way Salvador Larroca draws her, or it could be something else. Usually I’m a huge fan of Yu and his unique style, but for some reason here it just misses the mark.

That’s not to say all the art is bad. The sequence that closes out the issue is quite spectacular, and the designs for the Rebel guards who work at Sunspot Prison are some of the best the series has seen yet.

Of all the artists that have worked on Star Wars thus far, I still can’t get over the amazing work Stuart Immonen did during the “Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon” arc. And while I have really enjoyed comics Yu has worked on in the past, I’m going to have a hard time enjoying anyone’s vision of the Star Wars universe as much as I did Immonen’s.

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The Bottom Line: Star Wars #16 launched the new story arc in style despite Yu’s artwork not living up to the high standard Immonen set in his time on the title. But as long as Aaron continues to craft such compelling, interesting stories, I’m not going anywhere.

If you’re looking for a good Star Wars fix, this series is the place to be.