I am in firm agreement with J.J. Abrams when he said that one of the very best things Rian Johnson did in The Last Jedi (among many) was casting Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico.
I love Rose, and I’m all for getting more stories about her relationship with her sister, Paige. That’s exactly what the Age of Resistance issue about Rose explored, and it’s an absolutely tremendous story. It’s easily my favorite Age of Resistance issue that has been released so far, and it’s absolutely what these comic issues should be. This one is fantastic, and it provides the heartwrenching backstory for Rose and Paige.
We’ll look at a summary of the issue, and then I’ll share my thoughts on it.
The issue begins with Rose and Paige as kids in the cockpit of a ship, gazing up at the sky and holding their medallions up against a planet. There’s a narration of one of them calling her sister her hero, destined for great things. As the two children talk, it becomes clear that Paige is great at flying, but Rose has an immense knowledge of the ship’s mechanics and how it works. The ship, a Z-95 Starfighter, was the inspiration for the X-Wings, and the two buckle in and take off. As Paige flies, she blasts some debris out of the way, razing about Paige’s piloting skills and praising her sister. Rose then asks to have a turn flying, saying she has to start somewhere, and she at first is successful flying… but then crashes onto the planet as she is distracted by all the green.
We then realize that the two have just been flying in a simulator, as their parents ask them if they died and Paige answering yes, that Rose killed them again. Their mother tells Rose that just because she knows how things work doesn’t mean she should work them. The family eats together in the observatory, hearing stories and watching holdramas (including one of a fathier race!). Their mother tells the girls that they will see it all one day, but they will always have the sky.
Until the First Order arrived, that is. Years later, the First Order arrived and took over their mines, tearing the planet apart without any regard to its citizens. The sky disappeared, replaced by a cloud of dust. Rose and Paige ride a speeder and infiltrate a First Order facility. Rose heads inside while Paige taunts the stormtroopers and rides away on the speeder, drawing the guards away. Rose then uses her knowledge of how things work to stop them from working, sabotaging the entire navigation and weapons systems of the First Order mining bombers. They took out twelve bombers… but three days later, the First Order returned with more. Rose and Paige insisted to their parents that they had to fight back, and their parents agreed – but they needed help. Their parents had arranged for passage off of Hays Minor for the two girls, and they tell Rose and Paige to find the Resistance and join them. The two girls promise to come back, and their parents promise they’ll be waiting.
So Rose and Paige joined the Resistance, meeting with Vice Admiral Holdo and Admiral Ackbar, and then joining the crew of Cobalt Hammer, fighting alongside Poe Dameron and striking blows against the First Order. But while they were fighting, the First Order continued its bombardment of the Otomok system, destroying Hays Minor and its people. “We joined the Resistance to fight for our world,” the narrator tells us, “And we lost it. The First Order took our sky. They took our home. They took our family.”
The two girls decide to set out in a bomber to take out the biggest First Order target they can find, but they’re stopped by General Leia Organa, standing in the way of the bomber departing. She invites the girls to sit with her, and apologizes that the Resistance wasn’t there to stop the First Order. She tells Rose and Paige that she won’t stop them if they want to take the ship and strike a blow against the First Order. Paige says she wants to make the First Order pay, and Leia acknowledges that she understands – maybe better than anyone else. Leia tells the girls: “I know what it is to lose a world. Everything you knew. Everyone you loved. You can lash out. You can deal out a bit of cathartic destruction. But it won’t make a lasting difference. And you won’t be coming back. You need to ask yourselves: Do you want to throw a tantrum? Or do you want to make a real change? Do you want to be a minor inconvenience to the First Order? Or do you want to be a constant, frustrating pain in their side?”
The girls want the latter option, and Leia tells them to start rebelling. She invites them to take time to grieve, but Rose declines, saying, “Our world is gone. Others need saving. I’d like to start now.” As the issue comes to a close, we find out that Paige has been narrating, and that Rose is her hero and is destined for something great.
I really can’t say enough good things about this issue. Like I said earlier, this is really everything that I think one of these comics should be. It is not only a great story but also fills in more information and gives us even more of a compelling backstory for these two heroes.
It is heartbreaking to see the happiness of Rose, Paige, and their parents as their family lives on this relatively simple and boring planet together, enjoying life, only to see years later the planet ravaged and their parents eventually killed. We didn’t need any more backstory, but now that we’ve gotten it, Rose’s anger at the First Order at the Canto Bight casino becomes even more understandable. There, she explained to Finn what happened with her planet, and in this issue we actually get to see it. (Plus, I love the little nod to fathiers in this issue, which makes Rose’s fascination at seeing live ones all the more compelling)
The heartbeat of this story, though, is the relationship between the Tico sisters. Rose and Paige are best friends, and they do everything together. They grew up together, they flew in the simulator together, they fight back against the First Order together, they join the Resistance together, they fight on the Cobalt Hammer together, etc. These sisters are inseparable, and they are one another’s heroes. I actually love the twist on the narration too, as I expected it to be Rose narrating things – and everything up until the very last line suggests that too. But in a brilliant move, author Tom Taylor reveals in the last panel that it is actually Paige who has been narrating everything. I love that. We know that Rose looked up to Paige, and here we see that Paige looked up to Rose too. It’s beautiful.
This story also provides a tremendous and compelling backstory, as we see their childhood, we see the First Order taking over the planet and wrecking harm, we see them leaving to join the Resistance (it’s nice to see Holdo and Ackbar as they join!), etc. But all of this makes it even more tragic when it is revealed that their planet and its people have been destroyed, as while Rose and Paige were fighting for other planets theirs was destroyed. They failed in their promise to their parents. And they’re preparing to go on a suicide mission until they have a talk with General Organa. This is another beautiful moment, as we obviously know Leia’s backstory – she went through much the same thing, dealing with the loss of her planet and her family. She knows better than anyone else what the girls are going through, but she offers them something more satisfying and lasting than immediate revenge: the opportunity to continue to strike, more methodically yet more annoyingly, as they continue to battle the First Order. Leia, despite all she has lost (and maybe in part because of it), understands the bigger picture.
And so, as Rose says, they lost their planet – now they’ll fight to defend other planets. One of the very best lines in The Last Jedi is Rose’s statement about fighting to save what they love, and that’s exactly what she does. She’s not fighting so much because she hates the First Order (though that’s true!), she’s fighting because she wants to save other systems from suffering the same fate as hers. That’s such a noble thing to do, and that’s a hero if I’ve ever seen one.
In this issue, Tom Taylor managed to tell a near perfect story of Rose and Paige Tico’s backstory, explaining what happened with their family and how they came to the Resistance, and we also get a touching moment with Leia that features some incredibly deep, meaningful, and thought-provoking dialogue. I can’t say enough good things about this issue, and I think this is everything we ever could have hoped for in these Age of Resistance issues. Rose is awesome, and this comic is a worthy backstory for the Resistance hero.