Star Wars Volume 11: The Scourging of Shu-Torun – Kieron Gillen, Andrea Broccardo, Angel Unzueta & Guru e-FX (Marvel)

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Setting a run of Star Wars tales between the climax of the Battle of Yavin and the Rebels moving to the ice planet of Hoth means the writers will have some most agreeable attributes to work with. Obviously we are in that wonderful time where we have our favourite characters. Whatever you think, it’s the antics of Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, the droids and of course the shadow cast by the big bad Darth Vader over proceedings that has us all coming back for more, no matter how great new characters that come and go may be.

This also has a drawback however, that drawback being the limited range there is for emotional entanglements and the foresight that perilous predicaments are always going to end the way we know they will. With this in mind the latest story arc has been entertaining as much for the new characters as well as the boost of a number of Rogue One protagonists thrown in to the mix.

Princess Leia is hurting after the betrayal of the Rebel fleet by the monarch of Shu-Torun, Queen Trios who appeared to be an ally but was in cahoots with Vader and the Empire. The rotter. Seeking revenge by setting out to cripple the economy of the fire-y planet with an even firey-er Queen, Leia assembles a crack squad of Rebel regulars and the enigmatic Benthic – or “Two Tubes” –  from the ashes of Jedha along with his “partisan” band of outlaws. Tunga, the shape shifter we met in previous instalments, also gets on board after his troupe of actors have their play busted by Imps for telling the tale of Luc Swordswinger in a hammy amateur dramatics take on the story set in a galaxy far, far away …

The scene is set then for what amounts to a heist. Oceans 11 in space if you will. Two powerful regal women going head to head with an eclectic horde of supporting cast members … Tunga is a proper old fashioned luvvie as he takes on the shape of Queen Trios and the infiltration of the planet of Shu-Torun begins. Benthic and co. (still seething after the destruction of Jedha) make for uneasy bedfellows and the lines between “good” and “bad” become blurred. Are we the good guys? If so why are we teaming up with “extremists” whose approach to sabotage is a far different one to that of Leia, Luke et al?

There’s more questions as the caper continues … Is it wise to attack such a powerful planet with a huge military presence and such a driven Queen? The planet itself is a pretty unstable and hellish world by the look of it before you even meet the inhabitants. Revenge on the treacherous Trios and her society is high on Leia’s priorities however, and I do wonder if that is actually in keeping with what we know about our favourite Alederaanian.

Shooting stormtroopers and blowing Death Stars up is all good and well for her and her band of merry men, but attacking a sovereign state as their leader sided with the Dark Side is maybe not the path you would expect Leia to walk. Especially when the Empire themselves, in the shape of the now bionic-ally enhanced Kanchar, are still out there and the Rebel fleet are scattered in desperate need of a new home … What unfolds is, as you would expect, a very satisfying heist caper that, again, as you would expect, doesn’t quite go to plan as things go inevitably awry and uneasy alliances become even uneasier.

The artwork is not quite as “photo realistic” as previous issues but still has the stately quality that means it doesn’t feel as “cartoony” as, say, the Solo adaptation did. This helps the ambience immensely as the tale becomes, in part, pretty dark. The addition of Rogue One bit part players as major players in this tale is a huge plus and is more ammunition for my belief that Rogue One is possibly the best Star Wars film outside of the original trilogy and may even nab a … shhh, whisper it … top two or three slot.

The story is completed and the final frames leave us firmly at the point where this period between Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back has run its course. Loose ends are tightened and it’s generally a very satisfying conclusion to the events post Star Wars and Rogue One. All that’s left now is for the Rebels to discover the barren and frozen wastes of Hoth and the absolute peak of the Star Wars story can be explored in more detail. Here’s hoping! Marv Gadgie

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