Journey to Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker: Allegiance – Ethan Sacks & Luke Ross (Marvel)

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It’s not like the new Star Wars film, Rise of Skywalker, needs any more hype, but if you feel the need for an appetiser, then this bright and breezy romp may well fit the bill. The Battle of Crait saw the remnants of the Rebel Alliance reduced to a few ships in dire need of support that didn’t come. Maybe Admiral Ackbar’s home planet Mon Cala could be recruited to fight, as they did once, side by side with Leia and co? The watery world paid a heavy price for siding against the Empire however and the Alderanian Princess is persona non grata to those that with wounds that have yet to heal after years of Imperial enslavement. Stepping on eggshells and putting up with a hostile reception Leia, Rey and Chewie will do what they can but it looks bleak. A second thread sees Poe and Finn get in to all manner of scrapes as their desperate search for a weapons cache pits them against a notorious bounty hunter crew, who you’ll recognise from the Galaxy’ss Edge story. Of course, the dastardly First Order are never far away either …

Summing up and consolidating the state of play at the end of The Last Jedi, Allegiance offers very little in the way of clues as to where Rise of Skywalker will take us. Rey’s Jedi training is coming along, Kylo Ren is hunting them down like a rabid dog and the Rebels are woefully short of ships, support and weaponry to fight the good fight against the First Order. Like I said, nothing we didn’t know as we came out of the cinema last Christmas. A sort of reminder for those who couldn’t bare to re-watch the opinion dividing middle of the “last trilogy” entry.  If you want a “Star Wars-y” romp, then you’ll get it. Diplomacy on Mon Cala doesn’t exactly work and Finn and Poe’s adventure is pretty much a hi-jinks heist so there’s action aplenty. It’s always good to spend time on Mon Cala and the recurring characters from the latest run of the Star Wars series give a feeling of continuity, Admiral Ackbar’s son being a lone sympathetic ear. Looking at the socio political aftermath of the War against the Empire and how former comrades in arms now want nothing to do with the Rebellion is an interesting avenue to take the story down, but it seems you can’t ever forget to include a “trial by combat” fight in an arena where Star Wars is concerned. The relationship between Finn and Poe as “mates who are always getting in to perilous predicaments”  before wise cracking their way out is coming along nicely, though Rey seems to be a spoiling for a fight throughout the strand on Mon Cala. Maybe I’m clutching at straws here as the portrayal of characters old and new is pretty thinly drawn and offers little in the way of new insight.

More of the same is what we get here and if “more of the same” sounds good to you – hey, it is Star Wars after all, so more Star Wars is always a good thing right? – then you’ll find plenty to enjoy without anything that is utterly essential to understanding any character’s development or major plot twists. If you are looking for pointers as to what Rise of Skywalker will throw at us, well, you’ll have to go to the pictures for that. Which I’m sure you will have done already by the time this review appears. Marv Gadgie

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