Part of what made the recently-canned Star Wars 1313 videogame so intriguing was a chance to see a Star Wars story that focused on the more unpleasant underbelly of the existing fiction. Some of the novels have touched on it, but I feel like this is the first time we dive headfirst in and on Corellia of all places. We’re immediately immersed into the tone and tenor as we’re introduced to our narrator, a freshly minted rebel who wanders into a truly alien strip-club. And I’m not talking sexy humanoids with tentacles on their heads, I mean gyrating centipedes and something that looks like an exposed nervous system. Matt Kindt takes the reins and guides us on a trip from underbelly to forest moon with the ever-legendary Han Solo at the helm, and this is the Han Solo from A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back: brash, headstrong, charming and skating by on a combination of incredible skill and dumb luck that is, half the time, backfiring in his face. There’s really only one other character and he’s completely new, but he’s a good surrogate for the reader, particularly a new reader: someone out of place and in WAY over their head. He allows the plot to unfold around him and even allows some ham-fisted character development, without it feeling like it’s being shoehorned in to ensure the reader isn’t lost. The turn the narrator takes throughout the book, slowly realizing that his companion may not be all he seems, is gradually and wonderfully realized as well.
Marco Castiello on pencils does a good job illustrating just what a hellhole we find ourselves in with an amazing economy. within the first couple of pages, it’s established exactly what kind of story we find ourselves in and what kind of location our protagonist finds himself weaving through. The inks are supplied by Dan Parsons and calcify the world we find ourselves in nicely, giving the characters and settings that same lived-in feel that made the first trilogy stand out in a world of glossy, shimmering sci-fi and the colors are by Gabe Eltaeb, who can do no wrong on a Star Wars book. His colors make the dark, dreariness of both Corellia and the location the book ends in match the tone of both corruption and insecurity wonderfully.
The pencils and even the inks to some extent, sometimes look muddy and indistinct in a way that is definitely not intentional. Faces on several panels look mashed and inconsistent while the eyes are often obscured artificially or looking very over-dramatic and the general facial expressions don’t always match what’s being said or done. The action is sometimes stilted and stiff, which is odd because other times it’s fluid and impactful, but when it goes wrong, it goes real wrong. Background and secondary characters often look overly posed, like they’re gesticulating dramatically for no reason, and storm troopers suffer from both these issues especially.
I’m so very intrigued by this issue and by this book’s mission statement in general. A book that explores the darker, non-force related side of the Star Wars universe is something I 100% endorse as it makes the universe far, far more interesting. As much as I love the Jedi and Sith, the entire universe rotating on the axis of what they’re up to can get a little dull, particularly as it often results in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE being at stake, so a book focusing on a more intimate story is just what I wanted to see. The Rebellion might be known for their massive victories, but I’m intrigued by the small plots that made those victories possible as well.