Comic Picks By The Glick

Star Wars: Legacy vol. II (Book 1) — Prisoner of the Floating World

December 8, 2013

I’ve been looking forward to this title more to see how it fits into the established “Legacy” continuity rather than the expectation that it’ll be any good.  It’s not that I’m averse to seeing this particular bit of “Star Wars” continuity expanded upon, but the fact that it’s not being done by the people who kicked it off -- John Ostrander and Jan Duursema -- does not immediatly inspire confidence.  Instead we have scripters Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, with Hardman also providing the art, picking up the reins and focusing on the legacy of the Solo side of the franchise.  While I’ve heard that they’ve done good work with another famous film franchise with their “Planet of the Apes” comics for BOOM! the level of quality that’s achieved here never really rises above the realm of “okay.”

Not long after the defeat of Darth Krayt, a new balance of power has emerged in the galaxy.  A Galactic Triumvirate formed by the Alliance, Empire and Jedi forces is now taking steps to rebuild with outreach programs starting in the Outer Rim.  On one such mission, Imperial Knight Yalta Val and his crew crash land on an unknown and unexpected planet in the Carreras system only to find a Sith presence there.  While Val’s crew is killed and he is taken captive, the drone they set up to scan the system manages to escape off-planet.

A week later we see a couple of lowlifes trying to scam a junk dealer only to find out that she’s already taken their treachery into account.  Amongst the scraps they’ve brought in is the same droid from Val’s expedition -- with its master’s lightsaber.  Figuring that such a find is her ticket off of this planet, the dealer hooks up with her Mon Cal friend Sauk to find some way to capitalize on this.  However, this junk dealer’s name is Ania Solo and trouble is something that comes naturally to that name.  Especially when a Sith impersonating Master Val comes looking for the lightsaber in question.

“Prisoner of the Floating World” is a fairly low-key read compared to the previous volume.  There’s no “fate of the galaxy” conflict to kick it off as most of the stakes are personal and even the Sith threat here is shown to be more local than anything else.  That’s not a bad thing as the “Dark Times” stories have shown us that you can do small-scale “Star Wars” stories and still have them be engaging reads.  In fact, Bechko and Hardman do a good job of keeping things readable here as the story moves along at a nice clip balancing conversation with action with action well.  Hardman’s art also realizes this world pretty well, even if it’s a bit sketchier than I’m used to seeing on these titles.  The man does have a very good handle on the tech and overall look of the universe and that goes a long way to smoothing over any issues I have with his overall style.  So though there’s a whole lot here that’s more familiar than not it’s all executed well enough that the story makes for decent “Star Wars” comfort food overall.

The main issue I have with this new volume of “Legacy” is that it feels pretty directionless at the moment.  As the first part of an ongoing series it doesn’t really do an effective job of what its main focus is going to be besides further exploring this bit of continuity.  Yes, its protagonist is the descendant of one of the movies’ key characters but she tends to come off as a background player more often than not.  We get some hints about her current relationship to her family yet there’s no indication as to what her personal journey is going to entail as of yet.  I can understand why Bechko and Hardman would want to take a different tact than Ostrander and Duursema, except their opening storyline did a much better job of setting out the course of their series and getting the reader excited to see where they were going to go with it.

There’s nothing here that really gets in my way of wanting to see where this series goes, though there are a couple name-related issues that I want to bring up.  First of all, it’s kind of odd that Ania would keep her last name if she has no interest in trading on it.  More strange is the fact that with the exception of one droid no one really seems to bat an eye at this.  You’d think that we’d get at least one, “Solo?  Any relation to that smuggler who helped overthrow the Empire?”  Given that this detail isn’t really brought up more often it makes you wonder why Bechko and Hardmann wanted to focus on the Solo side of things in the first place.  They could very well be saving it to explore in future volumes, but not putting it front-and-center in the very first volume seems like a missed opportunity to hook readers.

At least this isn’t as bad as the name of the new Dark Lord of the Sith we have to contend with here.  He announces himself to the galaxy as “Darth Wredd!”  … Yeah, I couldn’t stop snickering either.  You can argue that names like Sidious, Bane and Maul are too on-the-nose, but this is just dumb.  It doesn’t mean anything, unless you think it’s meant to sound like “red,” and seeing it spelled like that just hurts my eyes.  You really get the sense that Bechko and Hardmann were stumped for Sith name ideas and just settled on the first one that came to mind.  This is bad enough that naming him “Dredd” would’ve been an improvement, even if a certain Mega City Judge already has a well-established claim to it.  Though the denizens of the galaxy who see his “announcement holo” are shown as taking him very seriously, I can’t help but imagine that everyone we didn’t see were just laughing their asses off at hearing his name.

We will be seeing more of him in the future, so it remains to be seen if Wredd’s plans and actions will be sufficiently compelling and villainous enough to compensate for his unfortunate moniker.  I’ll also be back to see if this series does improve in quality as there was nothing actively awful enough here to convince me not to.  There are plenty of better “Star Wars” books out there, including the first volume of “Legacy.”  So even if it wasn’t immediately obvious with the title you’ll want to start there before even bothering with this one.

Jason Glick

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