STAR WARS ANNUAL #4 / Writer: Cullen Bunn / Artists: Ario Anindito, Roland Boschi, Marc Laming / Colorists: Jordan Boyd, Andres Mossa / Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles / Cover: Tradd Moore & Matthew Wilson / Published May 23, 2018
Star Wars Annual #4 takes us to the planet of Hradreek, where smuggler Sana Starros, and the Empire each have found one half of a pair of ancient lightsabers that belonged to the Sith Lord, Darth Atrius. The weapons alone carry a power that drives a user mad, until both sabers are reunited. The only thing that would make this dangerous situation worse is if you give one saber to Darth Vader and the other to Luke Skywalker, which is exactly how this plays out.
Star Wars Annual #4 jumps us back in time, before the events of Star Wars #8, because it seems Star Wars stories are compelled to be told out of order. We were first introduced to Sana Starros, the one-time partner of Han Solo, in Star Wars #8. The timeline isn’t much of an issue because none of our central characters cross paths with each other, save for Artoo having a brief fight with Sana. Their fight is hardly memorable to either character though.
The story of Star Wars Annual #4 is set around a podracing event, which connects the Star Wars trilogies together. Not only do we get Luke jumping into a pod to race, we also get Darth Vader watching said race. It’s a nice symmetry that brings everything around. Luke may be as good a pilot as his father, but unfortunately podracing is not a skill he inherited.
Cullen Bunn’s story is solid, with connections to the larger Star Wars universe and fun fast-paced dialogue. I did wonder if this should’ve featured archaeologist Doctor Aphra instead of Sana. Sana and Aphra have history that predates Sana’s first appearance in Star Wars #8, so it”s not too big of a stretch that Sana may have learned a thing or two from Aphra about acquiring and selling ancient relics.
There are three different artists credited, Ario Anindito, Roland Boschi, and Marc Laming, along with two colorists, Jordan Boyd and Andres Mossa. It’s hard to know who exactly did what, thanks to a very consistent look and color palette. I was initially hesitant about the art because of the crowded cover, but I really like the look of everything. The layouts are exciting and easy to follow, so much so that you could remove the dialogue and still follow everything. The characters all look like we expect them to, while the scenery is new and exciting. The colors are great, contrasting the lush, tropical look of the planet with the grittier underworld characters and the stark black and white of the Imperials.
Everything wraps up rather neat and tidy in the end. Aside from the podracing connection, it feels like a waste to have Luke and Vader both appear with no interactions. We could’ve had this same issue with Luke and an Inquisitor, or any random Force user and Darth Vader, or even all new characters. It’s a fun read but ultimately inconsequential. In the end, everyone is back to where they were at the beginning, nothing lost and nothing gained.
VERDICT 3.5 out of 5
Opinionated geek and writer born in the desert, raised on the beach, and now living in the mountains, Paul is a lifelong nerd who loves Star Wars, costuming, comic books, and all manner of geeky things.