The current Star Wars comic line, written by Charles Soule, is telling the story of the Rebellion in-between The Empire Strikes and Return of the Jedi. And in the most recent issue, we got to see a pretty major moment in that time span: the Rebel leaders learning that the Empire is making a second Death Star.
It started in Star Wars #26, which introduces readers to two Imperial agents stationed aboard a top-secret project – so secret that the Empire is going to extreme lengths to control all communications and ensure no one can find anything out about it. The project, as we soon learn, is another Death Star. But it turns out that these two agents are connected with Qi’ra and Crimson Dawn, and they come to realize that they must get word out about this battle station. So they steal a shuttle and escape… but before getting far, in Star Wars #27, they are pursued by the Empire.
They send an urgent message to the Rebel Alliance, offering to trade top-secret intel for a safe escape. The news is passed along to Lando Calrissian, who assumes it’s a trap, but the news is passed along to General Hera Syndulla anyway. The Alliance doesn’t do much with it, but in an intelligence briefing Luke Skywalker asks about it, telling Hera that he has a good feeling about it.
So, in the most recent issue, Star Wars #28, Hera and Luke talk about this. Hera assumes it’s based on Luke’s connection to the Force, as he sounds like Kanan Jarrus. The Rebels learn that the Imperial defectors crash-landed on Coruscant, the heart of the Empire, making a rescue too dangerous. But Luke convinces them to allow him to go undercover – thanks to the knowledge that Palpatine and Vader are off-world, plus a bit of help from a Jedi mind trick – and he heads to Coruscant, dressed as an Imperial officer. Luke finds the family and uses the Force to help them escape.
Luke brings word back to Alliance High Command, meeting with Mon Mothma, Admiral Ackbar, and Hera, and he tells them that the Empire is building another Death Star. This leads to stunned silence from the group, before Mothma ponders and says, “If we could do it once… we can do it again. Let’s get to work.”
This feels like a pretty important moment in the storyline, particular during this time period. The opening crawl of Return of the Jedi tells us that the Empire is building a second Death Star, so the movie doesn’t waste time showing us people finding out about it – we’re just thrown into the middle of the story and catch up, as is Star Wars custom. But it’s also Star Wars custom to then go back and fill in some of the details, and it’s cool actually seeing how the rebels respond to this. After all, it was just a few years earlier where they had mounted a desperate attack on Scarif against all odds to secure the plans, and then another desperate attack against all odds at Yavin to destroy the first Death Star. To think about having to do that again must have been totally demoralizing for even the most optimistic of rebels, and I loved getting to see the reaction of these top leaders (and love that Hera is included).
I also hope that we get to see the reaction of the other rebels to finding out this news, as it’s something that impacts all of them, and surely would be received in different ways by different people. So I hope that this series continues to show the after-effects to this reveal, and maybe we’ll even get to see Bothans before long too. But this kind of thing is exactly what I love about the comics, and it’s when they’re tying in so perfectly while still telling a new story that these issues are at their strongest.