Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Star Wars Annual 2, originally released November 30th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Taylor: I’m incredibly excited for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This isn’t just because I’m a huge Star Wars fan and it isn’t just because George Lucas apparently likes it better than The Force Awakens. True, these things do rouse my blood, but what really excites me about the movie can be found right in its title. That Rogue One is being labeled “a Star Wars story” holds so much promise. I love the depth of the Star Wars universe and it’s amazing what authors can do with this backdrop when they aren’t burdened by telling the next great chapter in the Star Wars saga. While the second annual issue of the Star Wars comic does involve some classic Star Wars characters, what makes it wonderful is that it gives us a glimpse into the day in the life of your average Star Wars universe Jane.
Pash Davane is your average working class human on the planet of Skorii-Lei, making her way as a salvage operator or a “janitor of the galaxy” as she calls it. All is normal in her life until she comes across a wounded Princess Leia and hides the unconscious face of the rebellion in her tiny apartment. Adventures ensue and Pash soon finds her life turned upside down, swept up in the struggle between the Rebellion and the Empire.
What’s remarkable about this issue is that it doesn’t read like a typical Star Wars issue. Despite the A-List names in this issue Pash is the main character, and the issue benefits incredibly from this. Seeing the universe through Pash’s eyes, I get a unique Star Wars story told not through the eyes of legendary heroes, but through the eyes of an average, working class woman. As such, the universe (and more specifically the world of Skorii-Lei) are presented in a way that is compelling because it shows me a new viewpoint on an old story.
It’s so much fun seeing a galaxy I know extremely well interpreted through a different viewpoint. Instead of seeing evil British dudes plotting to kill innocents or desperate rebels clinging to hope, we see what it’s like to live in this universe on an average day. For Pash, that means hauling salvage and ducking the Imperial patrols, which always mean trouble. For once, everything isn’t on the line and that’s liberating. Without the universe needing to be saved Kelly Thompson is able to write a fun story about a unique corner of a deep and wonderful universe.
Of course, this relative peace can’t last and Pash is tasked with the cause of protecting Leia from the Empire. At first, though, she is reluctant to do and butts heads with Leia because the two of them are stubborn and used to being in charge. This initial clash of egos eventually buds into a unique friendship, but these first stages of their relationship, as illustrated by Emilio Laiso’s pen, are wonderful to behold.
Both Leia and Pash initially can’t stand each other, and I love the acting on their faces in these panels as they fling sarcasm back and forth at one another. Both ladies are capable of eye-rolls that would make any teenager jealous, and I can’t help but adore their open disdain for each other. What makes this sequence more than just funny is that it hints at the similarities Leia and Pash possess. While not evident immediately, it soon becomes clear that the reason these two don’t get along at first is that they are too much alike. Eventually this works in their favor, but these initial getting-to-know-you stages are crucial to the development of their relationship and the acting in these scenes makes that all possible.
Really, the grease that makes this issue go is the fact that Pash is such a damn likable character. Not only is she a Regular Jane and able to banter with Leia, but she undergoes a convincing character arc in the span of 30 pages. When the issue opens, Pash doesn’t care two ways about the Galactic War going on. To her, either side could win and her life would stay relatively the same. All of this changes when she meets Leia, but it’s not like she magically becomes a rebel just by basking in the glow of Leia’s aura. Instead, Pash comes full circle to becoming a rebel because she sees what Leia and her friends are willing to do for their cause. When she finally sees Han, Leia, Luke, and Chewie all together for the first time she realizes how beautiful their cause is.
In this moment Pash gets it. She understands why Leia sacrificed Alderaan for the rebellion and why so many others are willing to sacrifice their own lives to defeat the empire. Seeing these well known heroes in person, she understands that together they are fighting for an idea and a way of life bigger than any one of them alone. This moves her and ultimately convinces her to join up with Leia because she’s no longer content to be a player on the sidelines. She wants to be the change in the galaxy. This makes Pash a round character and explains how she goes from being ambivalent about the Galactic War to siding with Leia and the Rebellion.
Spencer, I though this was great issue! The art is wonderful, dynamic, and bright and the story is compelling from beginning to end. Do you feel the same way? Are you totally as taken with Pash as a character as I am?
Spencer: Oh, Pash is a fantastic character, Taylor; I love her. In Pash, Thompson and Laiso have created a surprisingly compelling character who immediately stands out. Just from a visual standpoint alone, the ripped shirts and her tall, super-buff figure mark her as a character to watch, but her brash, stubborn, even somewhat playful (with Bruce and, at times, even Leia) personality seal the deal. I’m not at all surprised that such a well-developed female character (with such an interesting relationship with Star Wars’ most famous woman to boot) came from Thompson — they’re kind of her forte.
So I wouldn’t call Pash an “average Jane” by any means, but that’s certainly the role she plays in this story, and within the larger Star Wars universe. Star Wars is, by-and-large, a black-and-white, good and evil universe, so I’d never given much thought to a character having Pash’s viewpoint, that the Rebels and the Empire both just cause harm to civilians, but I think it’s an interesting one, and not entirely without merit. Sure, you’d think the entire galaxy would be ready to take down the Empire after they blew up a friggin’ planet, but people can excuse a lot if it doesn’t effect them directly (as I think we’ve all, sadly, learned in recent months). All Pash has seen is both sides cause death and destruction. I can’t really blame her for her attitude at the beginning of the issue.
In fact, I was almost disappointed to see her change her mind as the story progressed, but I came around. The message of hope Pash’s face-turn preaches is so important right now, and even if it comes a bit fast, Pash’s realization is grounded in some real solid character work as well. Thompson shows from the get-go that Pash is a “good,” moral person — she saves Leia when she has no real reason to other than compassion, and continues to protect her and give her medicine even when she’s not sure why. In the short-term, Pash was never going to side with the Empire, who directly threatened to destroy her village, over Leia (the one being threatened). She’s too compassionate for that.
The moment when Leia really wins Pash over, though, is when she takes the blame for Alderaan’s destruction.
I think it means a lot to Pash that Leia owned up to her part on Alderaan’s destruction. After all, her beef with both the Empire and the Rebellion was that they caused death and destruction everywhere they went and didn’t even care, but here Leia shows that she understands the weight of the deaths on her hands and is determined to make them matter, to make them count for something. How could Pash not reevaluate her stance a bit after hearing all that?
Ultimately, though, it’s the hope that Leia, Han, Luke, Chewie, and the Rebellion represent that drives the final nail in that coffin that is Pash’s apathy, and as I mentioned before, that message of hope is more important now than ever. No person or organization is, or can be, perfect, but if we look, there are still people out there trying to do the right thing, and they’re still capable of inspiring others to do the same. That’s a powerful idea.
Star Wars Annual 2 is very much Pash’s story, but that doesn’t mean that Thompson and Laiso ignore the rest of their cast. Outside of a few nameless, speechless bounty hunters, every character has a distinct, interesting personality and motives of their own, from Leia (of course) to Pash’s coworkers to Bruce the droid the woman who sells her medicine to even the Stormtroopers.
Normally Stormtroopers are the most bland, faceless examples of stock henchmen, but Thompson even manages to imbue these guys with some legitimate personality. This, of course, shows Thompson’s skill as a writer, but it’s also really important in an issue that’s all about the perspective and value of an “average Jane” in the Star Wars universe. If part of Pash’s beef is that people like her tend to get overlooked or oversimplified in the greater Star Wars narrative, than Pash’s creative team can’t be guilty of the same sin, and by jove, they aren’t!
So yeah, Star Wars Annual 2 is quite an enjoyable issue, and I’d love to see more like it. That doesn’t necessarily mean more issues about Pash Davane either (though I’d definitely be into that) — I mean that there’s a lot of unique perspectives to be explored in the Star Wars universe that we’re probably sleeping on, and as long as we’ve got the right creative teams working on them, I think that spending some time focusing on them could make for some great stories.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?