I’ve long held a certain affinity for Luke Skywalker. Our histories share a surprising amount of similarity. It was not all too long ago that I was nineteen and naïf, a neophyte initiate into an ancient religion, studying at the feet of wizened masters as their most precocious and prodigious pupil. At the same time, I belonged to conspiratorial cabal, an alliance of rebels, secretly and successfully working to overthrow the old and corrupt government*, replacing such with a new republic of our own devising. There was overwrought, operatic drama, and a healthy helping of saber** battles, of which I was a natural, nigh unsurpassed. It was all very exciting.
Yet despite having been Luke Skywalker once upon a time, I’ve never had much desire to see further adventures of his. His story, along with Han and Leia’s and all the rest, was told fully and sufficiently in the films; any additional adventures would detract from their sublimity. Even in the golden age of the Expanded Universe, the novels which focused on the stars of the Saga were of no interest to me. Better yet was science fantasy which took cues from Star Wars but invented new universes and new protagonists of their own. Give me The Matrix, Mass Effect or Ready Player One over the Thrawn Trilogy or the New Jedi Order any day. Or even over The Force Awakens. Yeah, I said it.
The Marvel Star Wars comics, never bad but now at their best in the current Vader Down crossover, have finally convinced me otherwise. There’s aurodium in these pages, and this week’s Darth Vader #14 is no different. You don’t really know the full story of Luke Skywalker until you know of his courageous crash into Vader’s TIE fighter over the skies of Vrogas Vos. You don’t know the full story of Han Solo until you know of his comedic confrontation with Aphra amidst a nest of waspworms. And you don’t know the full story of Princess Leia until you know of her suicidal airstrike, prepared to take with her in a blaze of glory the vile villain who watched willfully as her homeworld was obliterated.
As I write this, it’s on the eve of Life Day, an annual celebration of the Wookiees on Kashyyyk fans first learned of in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special back in 1978. Apart from Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (based on the script to a potential low budget sequel should the film fail), the Holiday Special was among the first tales told of our interstellar heroes outside the movies. How far such stories have come!
This Life Day, fans can continue to follow the further adventures of Skywalkers and Solos. Some shall read Foster’s latest book, a novelization of The Force Awakens, . Droves of others will flock to the cinema and see the same on the silver screen. More yet, upon opening the presents wrapped beneath the wroshyr-tree, will find a shiny new console, and upon booting up Battlefront will create their own side stories of the time Boba Fett wasted Han in the wastes of Jakku. But those fans who want the best story of all this Life Day will pour themselves a glass of eggnog, add liberal amounts of brandy, pull up a leather chair beside the fireplace, and crack open Vader Down.
*albeit a student government
**Foam-swords, technically, during Medieval Reenactment Club