Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2016
Artist: Angel Unzueta, Leinil Francis Yu, Mike Mayhew
Writer: Kieron Gillen, Jason Aaron
Collects: Star Wars (2015) # 15-19 and Annual #1
Star Wars Vol. 3: Rebel Jail, by Jason Aaron, continues the fun adventures from the first few volumes but also has a few problems that cause it to be the worst of the three. On the positive side, the main storyline is incredibly tense and exciting, and the secondary storyline offers a few laughs. However, on the negative side, the secondary storyline isn’t all that interesting, and the entire volume contains a number of contradictions. This is still a good quality volume overall, it simply isn’t quite as entertaining as previous volumes were.
Rebel Jail starts out with what appears to be a completely independent story about a Rebel spy who chances upon an opportunity to kill the Emperor. He ultimately fails because the entire situation turns out to be a trap set by the Emperor himself. The trap kills every spy on Coruscant and a number of senators as well. The entire story is short but thrilling and serves as a great reminder of how cruel the Emperor can be.
From here the story returns to the main cast, as Leia and Sana escort Doctor Aphra to a secret Rebel prison. Immediately after arriving, a mysterious figure takes over the prison and begins killing off large swaths of prisoners. Leia and Sana are forced to team up with Aphra to survive before the mysterious figure is revealed to be the spy from the opening story. It is a very well constructed twist, one that gives hints about the reveal without completely giving away the answer. Ultimately, the heroes triumph but their victory comes at a cost, making it a realistic but satisfying victory.
Enhancing this overall narrative is how tense the entire situation is. Aaron drops readers off on a prison revolving close to a sun, where everything is controlled by the person in charge of the prison. This instills a sense of claustrophobia and apprehension on every page, since the heroes could be jettisoned out an airlock at any moment.
However, the story’s contradictions negatively affect what would otherwise be a great story. The entire premise here is based around Leia’s reluctance to execute or kill unarmed prisoners. Yet this same character is the one who gave the order for the Emperor’s assassination, who the Rebels assumed would be unarmed. It also just feels out of place that Leia would let Aphra go, especially when she knows that Aphra is directly associated with Vader himself. Leia’s inconsistencies here do not hold up well and caused a number of small problems in my enjoyment of the volume.
In addition, the volume’s background story also hurts the collection as a whole. This story follows Luke and Han as they make a smuggling run in order to pay for debts they have incurred. Though the story is fun and has a few cute moments, nothing about it feels relevant or interesting. It is another negative that knocks Rebel Jail from great to just above average.
Finally, the volume ends with a completely unconnected flashback to Obi-Wan’s time on Tatooine. This story is not quite as suspenseful or pulse-pounding, but it still ends up reading wonderfully. It helps to fill in the gaps in Luke’s childhood and also gives Obi-Wan a bit more character development. Any fan of the Star Wars movies is sure to appreciate this short break in the otherwise modern narrative.
Leinil Francis Yu provides the artwork for the vast majority of Rebel Jail. Though his work here is not quite as cinematic as the visuals previous seen, it is probably one of the most aesthetically pleasing art styles in this series thus far. Characters and locations are all drawn well but are also given a stylistic flair that suits the rather dark nature of this particular story. Yu also does incredibly well with depicting emotion on characters’ faces, which is important in a story with characters like these. Overall, this is a good looking volume that the majority of fans are sure to like.
Star Wars Vol. 3: Rebel Jail continues the story from Star Wars: Vader Down. Both stories take place between the movies Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope and Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back.
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