There’s only one more volume left in this series and it’s going to be painful to buy. Why? Because it’s only going to collect the last three issues of this series plus an “updated handbook of the ‘Legacy’ era” according to Amazon. I’m also not encouraged by the fact that the online retailer isn’t listing the page count for this forthcoming vol. 4. I’ll be buying it anyway more for the fact that it’s likely to go right out of print after it’s published and the rights revert back to Marvel. While Marvel has already announced that they’re going to be bringing some of the Dark Horse “Star Wars” comics back into print, their first announced collection is a Darth Vader-centric one. Which suggests that they’re going to give priority to the stories that aren’t likely to be kicked out of continuity by the forthcoming “Episode VII.”
Now, if you’re thinking that all of this is more interesting to me than the actual contents of “Wanted: Ania Solo,” you’d be right. Co-writers Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman’s exploration of the “Legacy” era has been fairly underwhelming so far and what we get here doesn’t do anything to change how I feel about that.
After stopping the Sith plot to use slave labor to restart the shipyards of Dac, Ania, her Mon Cal friend Sauk, Imperial Knight Jao Assam, and assassin droid AG-37 are making ends meet by ferrying cargo to out-of-the-way places. On one of these runs, Jao comes across a Wanted poster with Ania’s face on it. Turns out that she’s wanted for the murder of an Imperial Knight and there’s a sizable bounty out for her return, dead or alive. Before she can explain things to her companions, they have a close encounter in a debris field that leads to a reunion between Ania and a friend, Ramid, she knew from her time in a Sith prison camp. It also leads to Ania being stranded on a planet that rains acid and glass with Ramid, and a bounty hunter whose reasons for tracking down this Solo are more personal than you’d expect.
Though the main story starts off with a good hook, it’s hamstrung by a couple of plot holes that pop up almost immediately. If Ania is wanted for killing an Imperial Knight, why wasn’t she arrested by the Galactic Triumvirate when they brought her in at the end of the first volume? You’d think that this kind of murder would be a big red flag on anyone’s record, and for the officials to start pushing the issue now makes them look more than a little dumb. As do their actions at her trial at the end of the volume. Then you’ve got the actions taken by Ramid and his crew after meeting up with Ania. How did they find her and just how long were they waiting out there as part of their plan? The more I think about it, the more it feels like a contrivance than an organic part of the story.
It’s also made clear that Ania and Ramid have a fairly complicated history due to their time in the Sith prison camp. How they managed to survive it sounds like it would make for a great story, but we’re only told about it and never shown anything. I’m left with the feeling that this was a real missed opportunity here. Not only would it have allowed Bechko and Hardman to flesh out the relationship between these two characters and examine what Ania went through during the war, the bounty hunter’s role in this story could’ve been properly set up. As it is, Ania and Ramid’s relationship feels underdeveloped and unpersuasive while the bounty hunter’s role is substantiated only through exposition with her connection to the story coming off as anticlimactic.
Bechko and Hardman do provide lots of action in the story as Ania goes from carefully navigating a minefield in space, to fending off spider-creatures on an alien planet, and duking it out with a bounty hunter who wants to dismember her a little. I’m actually warming up to Hardman’s style, as its grittiness goes against the grain of the kind of art I’m used to seeing in a “Star Wars” title, yet he’s still able to capture the essential familiarity of this universe. Old things shown in a new way, which is a good thing. However, some of the fights do drag on and there’s a lot of repetition between them. You’re left wishing that the storytelling had been more efficient in these parts and that we had received fewer and more varied action scenes. It would’ve also left room for flashbacks of the Sith prison camp, but I digress.
When all is said and done, we really don’t know a whole lot more about Ania Solo than when we began this volume. Though she’s the ostensible protagonist of this series, her connection to the Solo legacy is still unknown, and her actions feel blandly heroic. She’s a good person who doesn’t always make the right choices, but I’m left with the feeling that’s only because this is how the story demands that she be. The protagonist of the previous series, Cade Skywalker, may have been a drug-addled lowlife who wasn’t averse to selling out other Jedi for profit when we first met him. Yet we at least had some idea of the trauma he endured to make him wind up like that and the series actively dove into the consequences of his actions over the course of its run.
The irony of a Skywalker descendant being more morally ambiguous than that of a Solo descendant is not lost on me. It also doesn’t make for very interesting storytelling in the way that it’s presented by Bechko and Hardman. At this point, the only way their “Legacy” compares favorably to the one presented by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema is in its art. I realize that I’m sounding like a broken record as I compare this series to the previous one in every review that I do for this series, yet this is an explicit sequel to that one and warrants such consideration as a result. It’s also a bland tale that even fails to meet basic competence as a result of the plot holes in this outing. Ania Solo’s “Legacy” has ultimately been a completely superfluous one and I don’t see the final three issues turning my thoughts about that around.