CHEWBACCA #1-5 IS PART OF THE CURRENT STAR WARS CANON. CHECK OUT THE TIMELINE.
As one of the most popular and enduring characters in all of Star Wars, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that everyone’s favorite walking carpet would be treated to his own miniseries. Across five issues creatively titled Chewbacca, the Wookie crash-lands on a backwater planet and gets embroiled in a typical plot to wrest control of the working folk from the tyrannical Empire.
The planet, for your information, is Andelm-4; a mining colony presided over by an alien gangster named Juam through bribery, force, and lately a back-scratching Imperial arrangement. The planet’s beetle mines produce a chemical important for explosives, and so Zarro, a young girl, and her father Arrat, who owes Juam a debt, are forced to harvest the previous larva. That is until Zarro escapes and predictably teams up with Chewbacca to pull some arms from their sockets.
If you were wondering how to make a comic accessible when its eponymous hero only communicates in grunts and growls, so was I. It turns out the solution is to include a nipper who speaks entirely too much. Taken together, these are the hurdles that prevent Chewbacca from standing alongside Marvel’s better character-focused miniseries’. That, I suppose, and the overly familiar nature of the do-gooder plot, which heads to slightly darker places than the tone initially suggests, but never gets intriguing or ballsy enough to stand out.
Chewbacca, too, feels underserved by the story; never given an opportunity to grow or develop beyond his already-established traits. This is partly the lack of any internal monologue; while it’s easy to get a sense of what he’s thinking, if not exactly what he’s saying, the opportunity to understand his worldview beyond unfaltering loyalty and fury at injustice would have been appreciated in a story ostensibly about him.
The writer is Gerry Duggan, who does a serviceable job with the character, but still feels limited, even with Chewie having been untethered from Han and Luke. The simple fact is likely that Chewbacca only really works as a supporting player, part of an ensemble, and Duggan’s efforts to surround him with personalities that rival his usual cohorts are lackluster, at best. I could live the rest of my life without encountering another earnestly heroic child, and I imagine I’d be perfectly happy if I did.
Phil Noto’s art is better; lighter, tonally, than what you might see elsewhere in the canon, but characterful and notably cinematic in a way that I felt enriched a rote narrative. None of this is to say that Chewbacca is bad, just that it’s unremarkable. It was a no-brainer to give Chewie the spotlight, but the irony might be that he isn’t all that interesting when he’s in it.