Pros: New and interesting characters abound in this story. The Chewbacca/C-3PO plot is great and also pretty hilarious.
Cons: The Han/Leia plotline in this collection was not that good. There are a couple of logical jumps in this story.
Overall: This volume takes all of the good that the first volume did and improves upon it. This story is enjoyable, interesting, and even funny at times. It is a good Star Wars story that respects the tone of the series while also adding to it. Though there are still some problems here and there, this series appears to only be getting better.
There are a lot of comic series out there which start out great and do a lot of set up for a second volume, which then only proceeds to fall apart. Star Wars Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon, is the perfect example of when this does not happen. It takes the interesting premise from the first volume and runs with it. This allows it be an improvement on the series as a whole and a good book on its own. If you read Star Wars Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes (Review) and wanted to know if it was worth continuing, the answer is a resounding “yes.”
(spoilers start here)
This volume start out with a flashback that fits into the current arc but also stands as an independent story. It features Obi-Wan living on Tatooine as “Old Ben” in the years before A New Hope. What is most unique about this story is how little it involves the usually theatrics and fighting of the main Star Wars series. Instead, Jason Aaron chooses to focus on Obi-Wan’s intense inner turmoil. Since Obi-Wan is posing as an old hermit, he cannot intervene in the lives of the oppressed people of Tatooine, and instead must watch them be beaten and robbed by Jabba the Hutt’s thugs. It is an interesting dynamic to watch play out and a unique part of the Star Wars story which has never really been explored before.
After this, the main story starts with Luke on his way to try and learn more about the Jedi by looking into their history. Before being able to do this, he is captured by a Hutt who wants to see him battle in a gladiator style deathmatch, billing him as the “Last Jedi.” This portion of the story is entertaining and somewhat enlightening at the same time. For one, seeing Luke go head to head with the villains here provides the action this story needs, while the Jedi history and training from the prison warden provide some explanation as to Luke’s proficiency with his lightsaber later on in the series.
However, the real gem of the story is the comedy/action that is Chewbacca and C-3PO’s misadventures. On their way to find Luke, Chewy and C-3PO have to deal with droid muggers, unhelpful bartenders, and even a bounty hunter. Yet they deal with them all in scenes which are, quite possibly, the funniest C-3PO has ever been. My favorite of these misadventures involved C-3PO commending Chewbacca on “letting the bartender go” because he thought it was a nice thing to do; when in reality, Chewbacca “let him go” off of the roof of the building they were on. In addition, this story also sees C-3PO do one of the most courageous things he has ever done when he sacrifices himself (temporarily) in order to save Chewbacca. These two have a great dynamic and I am glad to see Jason Aaron make full use of it.
The story is not all positives though, as the plotline involving Han and Leia ranged from average to below average. This story saw Han and Leia ambushed by Han’s “wife” who then proceeds to save them. It is a story which tries to establish some sort of relationship growth between the two but barely manages to do that. It isn’t awful to read, but this arc could have done just as good without it.
The only other flaw with this book is the random logical errors which pop up every now and again. For example, Han and Leia manage to avoid a plethora of blaster fire, and even return fire, without any cover whatsoever. Later, an EMP shorts out all of the blasters in the battle arena, however R2-D2 and all of the lights are still functioning perfectly. Finally, at the story’s end, Han, Leia, and Chewbacca all proceed to take down a bunch of imperial soldiers with lightsabers, despite having absolutely no familiarity with the weapons before then. On their own, each of these flaws does not matter much, but when put together, they start to make the story a little less believable and seem a little more flawed.
(spoilers end here)
For the first issue in this collection, Simone Bianchi does the artwork. This works out incredibly well because it is a very different issue and thus deserves a different art style to match. Bianchi’s artwork is gritty and void of fun, which works very well in demonstrating the hopelessness and pain that Obi-Wan is feeling in this issue.
The rest of the collection is done by Stuart Immonen. Immonen’s work is very similar to John Cassaday’s work in the first volume. This is nice because it helps give a little more consistency to the series as a whole. However, Immonen’s artwork does not look quite as nice as Cassaday’s and is definitely not as detailed. For the most part, this is not that noticeable, as close-ups on characters look great. However, it is when characters are in the background where they do not look nearly as nice.
This book takes place between the movies Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope and Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back. While you could theoretically read this without watching the movies, it is highly recommended to watch them first, as much of the story builds off of them.
Besides these connections, there are no other references here to anything else in the Star Wars continuity.