Kieron Gillen has taken over writing duties on Marvel's flagship Star Wars comic, and with his first issue, he's launched an intriguing tale that sees our heroes return to the ruined moon of Jedha. In the aftermath of A New Hope, the Rebel Alliance is attempting to unify the different rebel groups across the galaxy. That means they're hoping the last remnants of Saw Gerrara's Partisans will rally to the cause.
The Imperial attack on Jedha City resulted in the deaths of the Partisans' leaders, and the group has splintered. As we saw in Christie Golden's Inferno Squad, a number of key players left Jedha to continue the war against the Empire. It seems some have remained on the devastated moon, launching a series of ruthless strikes on Imperial forces, and these hard-core warriors would be a real asset to the Rebellion.
But Why Is The Empire Still Interested In Jedha?
In reality, Gillen's plot is actually a subtle continuity fix. We swiftly learn that the Empire has one reason for continuing to occupy Jedha; they still want the moon's Kyber Crystals. Sadly, Jedha is no longer the rich source of Kyber that it once was, largely because it's too treacherous to mine. Worse, the only people living on the desolate world are Imperial slaves and rebels.
In terms of continuity, this is the first hint that the Empire had begun working on the Second Death Star. Rogue One explained why the Empire had been able to build this in just four years, when the original had taken decades. It was the power source that had given the Empire trouble, but they were able to duplicate Erso's designs and simply use Kyber once again. No doubt the Second Death Star's exhaust ports were rather more well-defended.
The Star Wars novels have stressed that, in the build-up to Rogue One, the Empire scoured the Galaxy for Kyber. Star Wars #38 is our first hint that, in the years between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, they continued to do the same. Had the Rebel Alliance's strategists joined the dots, they could have foreseen the Second Death Star's construction even at this early a stage.
Luke Encounters Other Force-Groups
Jedha was a holy city to countless Force sects across the Galaxy. The Empire's attack has incensed many of these faiths, and there are disciples and adherents to other Force-related faiths on Jedha. As a result, it's quite thrilling to see Luke interact with Chulco Gi, an aspirant to the Disciples of the Whills. We learn that the Disciples have been effectively ended by the destruction of the Jedha Temple, where they need to complete "the sevenfold steps of my order."
This is probably the first time Luke, a would-be Jedi, has encountered a member of another Force sect. We see Luke treat Chulco Gi with a measure of respect, willing to listen to his musings, and even seeming to find inspiration in them. It's a subtle setup for the character journey we know Luke will go on between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, where he travels the galaxy seeking out the truths of the different Force traditions.
There have been many times where the Star Wars comics were treated as little more than an aside in terms of the franchise's overarching narrative. That was especially the case around the release of Rogue One, when the official tie-in comics were abruptly canceled. Fortunately, it's clear that Gillen's #Marvel comics run will address that problem. His first arc has subtly woven together the threads of Star Wars continuity into a fresh, exciting narrative with tremendous potential.
Have you followed Jason Aaron's Star Wars run? If so, what do you think of the comics to date? Let me know in the comments!