Star Wars #51 delivers the usual high standard of Star Wars action and excitement, but the “Hope Dies” arc continues to raise the stakes in a satisfying way.
STAR WARS #51 IS PART OF THE CURRENT STAR WARS CANON. CHECK OUT THE TIMELINE.
If there has been a consistent problem with Marvel’s on-going Star Wars series, it’s that the heroes, secure in their fates, haven’t really found themselves in much bother. Sure, there’s constantly a new threat to stave off or a new mystery to solve, but the general sense has been one Rebel success after another. Not so in Star Wars #51, which continues the “Hope Dies” arc and sees the Rebel Alliance in some serious **** after a betrayal leads Darth Vader and a wealth of Imperial Star Destroyers to their galactic doorstep.
Of course, Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie all make it through to Empire Strikes Back, but they start that movie on the run, and the “Hope Dies” arc continues to feel like the first step in that direction. The odds are overwhelming, lives are being lost, and the way out is far from obvious.
Since, in the last issue, Han, Chewie and Threepio were gallivanting elsewhere, they arrive on the scene of Vader’s ambush late enough to save the day. With their ships sabotaged and their communications cut, the Rebels are stuck with only one option: to fly a fighter directly into the cargo bay, triggering the automatic doors which may or may not still be operational, and deliver an in-person message to their waiting pilots. Only problem is, they don’t have a fighter spare. Enter the Millennium Falcon.
It’s an interesting hook, once again putting the reluctant Han Solo in the hot seat, and while there’s never any doubt that he’ll comply with Leia’s do-or-die request, it’s nice to see that acknowledged in the writing. Save the spiel, he says, in so many words. I’ll do it anyway. And he caps it off with a characteristic, “This better impress her.”
Kieron Gillen proves in Star Wars #51 that he has perhaps the best ear for the series’ dialogue of anyone currently contributing to the franchise, and his plotting is always stellar. But the show-stealer in Star Wars #51 is Salvador Larroca, who supplies some of the best artwork that the series has seen in ages. This issue delivers the usual dose of Star Wars action and excitement, but with the stakes finally starting to feel real, “Hope Dies” continues apace as potentially the best story arc of the current run.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.