Star Wars Vol. 9 – Hope Dies

Following on from the previous book, ‘Hope Dies’ shows just how devastating Trios’ deception is for the Rebellion.

After upgrading the Mon Cal cruisers for war, during a celebration which will have those new cruisers sent out int the Galaxy, everything goes wrong.

The Shu-Toren mechanics have installed programs that will shut out all commands, essentially leaving the Rebel fleet to be sitting ducks for the huge Imperial fleet that arrives, led by Darth Vader.

Luke and Rogue Squadron try to defend the fleet as best they can but most of the fighters are stuck on the cruisers which are being destroyed one by one and the only way to let the fleet know how to let their fighters out is to get on board and deliver the message, or get close enough to to ship to automatically open he hanger doors.

Meanwhile, Han and Chewie are on a separate mission and finally arrive back, hoping to not have missed much of the festivities but end up in the middle of the battle.

Vader hunts down the Falcon and causes some serious damage. Luckily Han is able to get it into a cruiser and takes an X-Wing out into the fray.

Leia, General Draven and a team of Tebel troopers board the Executor to steal the codes to unlock the ships, Leia is able to get away in a TIE Fighter and is about to be shot down by Luke but he realises who is actually piloting it and he and Han get her to safety and distribute the codes.

One of the Cruisers, led by General Dodonna gets away and returns with a plan to rescue the remaining ships but is severely damaged and is destroyed.

The scattered Rebel Fleet get messages from Mon Mothma. Han is desperate to find the Falcon and Chewie (who escapes on a separate cruiser). The three heroes are promoted to Rebellion leadership roles before seeking out Sana Starros to help get them back to the Rebellion fleet.

Kieron Gillen effectively takes the bar set by the ‘Vader Down’ crossover and raises it exponentially with this story arc. This is by far the most exciting and riveting story arc this run has seen for a while and I enjoyed it so much. It’s incredibly fast paced, I found myself scrolling through it (reading on Kindle) and before I realised I was halfway through, it honestly felt like I had only read an issue or two.

We get to see what put the Falcon through its paces to make it the defective death trap in ‘Empire Strikes Back’ and just how great a pilot Han is by successfully avoiding being destroyed by Vader’s assault.

The creation of Rogue Squadron also happens here, when a team of pilots who flew a formation/light show as part of the celebration join up and form a rag-tag Squadron that later fights at the Battle of Hoth. We see Zev, Hobbie and of course Wedge throughout this issue and it’s great to see some familiar faces from ‘Empire’ turning up and being involved as the timeline gets closer to the events of that film.

A relentless and brutal arc that really gets things set up for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and a wonderful return of Vader, written by Kieron Gillen who really knows how to write the Dark Lord of the Sith.

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