The name is Solo. Ania Solo – thoughts on Star Wars Legacy: Prisoner of the Floating Planet #1

The Phantom VariantWith all the news of news Star Wars movies, the future of a galaxy far, far away is already being in Star Wars Legacy: Prisoner of the Floating World #1. With the galaxy once again united, the Sith operates on the fringe, where communication with the central empire is haphazard if not nonexistent. An Imperial Knight sent to the fringe to establish a communications array is ambushed by a Sith master and his traitorous apprentice. Also operating in the fringe is a junk collector with a familiar surname, Ania Solo. There’s nothing particularly special about this girl other than a tough, spunky attitude that helps her survive among scoundrels and thieves. When she finds a light saber among some scavenged junk, she doesn’t see a legacy or a piece of her ancestral past; she sees the mother-lode payday that will finally get her off of a backwater planet.

Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman write a story that feels familiar and comfortable but is also new and fresh. The universe that George Lucas envisioned in the first Star Wars film captured our attention because it was lived in by farmers, smugglers, princesses and hermits. It wasn’t some ideal future world but something that was already old by the time the first Star Destroyer engulfed a Rebel Blockade Runner. Following in the footsteps of John Ostrander and Jan Duursema’s first Star Wars Legacy series, Bechko and Hardman step into a galaxy that’s about to be shaken up by the evil of the dark side of the Force.

Ania Solo is not her now famous ancestors. She’s not a hero or a nerfherder or a scoundrel. She’s one of the faceless people out on the frontier trying to make a life for herself. Bechko and Hardman haven’t created a female version of a character we’ve seen before; Ania is her own woman. She’s also not a hero but it seems obvious that she’ll be thrust into the middle of an intergalactic intrigue that will force her to at least be heroic. She’s got that Solo toughness but there’s also heart to the character as she’s also looking out for her friend Sauk. When she discovers the lightsaber, it’s not only her way off of a rim world. It’s their way out.

While we see familiar characteristics in Ania Solo, Bechko and Hardman show us a universe that’s moved on from the days of rebellions and Death Stars but seems no less tumultuous. There are Sith, Stormtroopers and Jedi running around. This is how you expand the universe, showing us things we know but repurposing them to tell new stories. Where Lucas got too wrapped up in his own interests in trade federations and embargos, Bechko and Hardman use the political intrigue of uniting a galaxy as a starting point to delve into the darker recesses of Lucas’s creation.

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Hardman, who has another career as a storyboard artist, moves around the page like he’s moving around a movie screen. This isn’t the big screen, huge type of storytelling where comic artists try to mimic the ways and means of a movie. Hardman’s storytelling seems more influenced by the original Star Wars movie and 1970s cinema than anything since. The opening scene, a crash landing of an Imperial Guardsman’s ship and an attack by a Sith, feels like something out of a Ridley Scott movie more than anything Lucas ever set to film. With Rachelle Rosenberg’s eerie, atmospheric coloring Hardman’s art becomes more sinister than we’ve seen before as there are creatures and beings who are hiding in the shadows.

Hardman’s artwork is also driven by the story and the characters, not by the action or the explosions. He creates environments for his characters to move through and interact in. The story is what’s key to Hardman’s drawings. He doesn’t go for the big, showy money shots but plays it fairly restrained, keying in on the big moments of the story to show off just what he’s capable of. With his own natural grittiness, the grain of his artwork captures the experience of watching landspeeders roll across desert terrains to cities that are packed with aliens. The way he goes for very straightforward storytelling actually recalls the storytelling back when Gold Key comics would produce movie adaptations; it’s clear and classic.

Some of the elements we expect from Star Wars are readily on display in Star Wars Legacy: Prisoner of the Floating World #1 but Bechko and Hardman fill out the universe that we think we know so well. Lucas’s playground established a common mythology that Bechko and Hardman fill out the edges. They fill out the fringes, if you will, of the Star Wars myth as the legends of Skywalker and Solo become memories, the story lives on in future generations.

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