Marvel’s ongoing Star Wars series hits book ten and it shows no signs of losing its zest. The Escape is great fun in an old Saturday morning Sci-Fi series way, which, if I recall, is exactly what George set out to do in the first place all the way back in that galaxy far, far, away. Our favourite rebels are on the run. Again. Calamitous defeat has left Han, Leia, Luke and the droids (including a legless 3P0) on the run with Sana in the Volt Cobra. Things, naturally, don’t go to plan. They never do. Where would the fun be in that? To cut a long story short, the roguish rebels all end up stranded on a strange new world that initially seems like a darker Endor with huge wolf bear beast type monsters. Hubin, for that is where we are, turns out however to be peopled by a cultured but isolationist race of folk who will certainly offer a welcome to anyone that arrives at their outpost, but will not pick sides in the conflict raging throughout the galaxy. All seems nice and friendly initially as the stranded band of heroes are made welcome by the hospitable, but suspiciously assertive, leader Thane Markona and his daughter Tula. Do we trust them? Are they really “neutral”? How do they manage to avoid Imperial interest by simply not having any contact at all with anyone else? We shall see.
What follows is a good few pages of character fleshing out as a bit of a break from the usual swanning about in space ships, blowing things up and getting in to and out of scraps and scrapes. Romance blossoms, fighting skills are honed, monsters attack, Han upsets the locals and plans are made for escaping a world which bases its existence on never being able to leave the planet. Hubin is like an old fashioned world where honour and decorum are prized as the denizens live out a seemingly whimsical wild-west in space, old world existence and a refreshing change it is too. I’m taken back to those old episodes of Star Trek where Kirk and assorted crew members would beam down to a new planet, discover a new civilisation, get in to some sort of situation, solve a problem, bit of snogging and a bit of fisticuffs and then whizz off back to the Enterprise and see you next week for more of the same. A complete tale that can be viewed as part of an ongoing series or just as a one off and be equally enjoyable.
Like the most memorable “monster of the week” X Files episodes, The Escape can be read as a stand-alone tale, although the very beginning and last few pages tie it in with the main story arc of the ongoing series. There’s a feel of holding up the wham, bam, thank you ma’am exploits for a bit of story-telling, a bit of getting to know the characters and introducing new and interestingly ambiguous people like Thane and Tula and that’s all good with me. Extending the extended universe beyond constant Rebels vs Empire war without end, this instalment is a great way to take a break before the mayhem recommences, although there is a helping of mayhem on hand when Star Squadron turn up. Don’t worry, it wouldn’t be Star Wars without some Stormtroopers to shoot at would it? Back to the usual haring about and blowing things up in Volume Eleven I imagine, but it’s been absolutely marvellous to have something of a break. Top marks. Marv Gadgie