STAR WARS VOL. 2: SHOWDOWN ON THE SMUGGLER'S MOON (Marvel, First Printing, 2016; Softcover)
Collects Star Wars #7-12 (cover dates September, 2015- January, 2016)
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Simone Bianchi (#7) and Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger (#8-12)
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Checking out books from the library has taught me something. I no longer feel like I need to own so many comic books, as most of them are worth one read only.
Loads of S P O I L E R S from here on out.
#7 is a filler issue about a passage in the journal that Obi-Wan Kenobi left for Luke to find. It has mediocre artwork by Simone Bianchi and I would have been pissed if I paid $4 to read it when it came out. Things pick up right where left off last time with #8, with Luke Skywalker on a quest to locate information about the Jedi. His journey takes him to Nar Shadaa, the Smuggler's Moon. It's like Mos Eisley on steroids. Luke hopes to find someone to take him to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, only to be captured and turned over to Grakkus The Hutt.
Grakkus is a collector of Jedi artifacts, and wants to add Luke to his collection. He has Luke use the Force to open his collection of Jedi Holocrons. Every secret of the Jedi Order is contained in them, but only those strong in the Force can open them. Luke learns that the Jedi Temple is the Imperial Palace now, and that Grakkus owns every relic that was left in the temple.
Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa are taken prisoner by Sana Starros, a woman claiming to be Han's wife. Sana has plans to turn Princess Leia over the Empire and collect the bounty on her head. It turns out that Han and her planned a scam by using their “wedding” as a cover, only for Han to steal her half and make a run for it, so Sana wants vindication. Things go predictably, with her ending up helping Han and Leia escape the very Imperials that she summoned while answering R2-D2's distress call from Nar Shadaa.
Chewbacca and C3-P0 also answer the call to Nar Shadaa, resulting in the whole band getting back together to free Luke from Grakkus' arena, where he wants to show the last Jedi getting killed. Before that, Dengar discovers Chewbacca arriving, and wants to capture him to lure Han Solo so that he can collect Jabba's bounty on him. Chewbacca and Dengar battle as Solo swoops in and saves the day. Things look bad for Luke as he battles a beast in the arena, but Grakkus' Gamemaster, who sparred with Luke and showed him some tricks with Grakkus' collection of Lightsabers, double crosses Grakkus. It turns out that the Gamemaster was really an Imperial agent named Sergeant Kreel who was sent to watch Grakkus, and Luke falling into his lap forced him to blow his cover.
Kreel reports his finding to Darth Vader, who is aware that Luke Skywalker is his son and is strong with the Force. This ties into the events in Vader's own title, where he is trying to find Luke before the Emperor does.
I enjoyed this story quite a bit, although I remain unimpressed by Stuart Immonen's artwork. It's not bad, but there is something about it that underwhelms me. I can't quite put my finger on it. In any case, a solid read that makes me want to see what happens next...for free, if and when my local library gets in Vol. 3.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.
The OCD zone- I find library copies to be fascinating studies of durability in the workmanship and materials of these collected editions.
Paper stock: Coated stock with a slight sheen.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.