Storms on Crait is another in the line of Star Wars comics, this one published at the very end of 2017. Hiding inside the cover by Marco Checchetto (Shattered Empire, The Screaming Citadel Pt. 1) is a short story taking place on the “salt desert” planet from The Last Jedi. With one difference: this comic takes us to the time when the Crait base was established, between Episode IV and V. Young Leia, Han and Luke (fresh from the Death Star destruction) arrive to the planet in search for a new permanent Rebel base – only to find complications.
The timing of publication makes it clear the connection to The Last Jedi‘s prominent location wasn’t coincidental. If Marvel had several options how to approach a Last Jedi related comic, going to the past was a good choice. Even if the story has nothing to do with the events of The Last Jedi, it relates thematically: by revisiting the past of the film’s “old generation” heroes, Leia and Luke, in their prime and at the very spot they are going to revisit decades later.
Storms on Crait is another adventure of the “good ol’ trio” (plus Chewbacca) that followers of new Star Wars comics got used to. This time, the bonus is the connection to actual film environment, thus creating another bridge between the old and the new.
With the planet’s name in the title, one might start reading the comic in hope to learn something about Crait itself. The outcome is somewhat disappointing. The comic tells quite a bit about Crait’s climate and fauna while at the same time strangely omitting the presence of the “salt foxes” from The Last Jedi. Of course, there’s no need to show again everything that was in the film, but given the way Crait is portrayed in the comic (maximally inhospitable and harsh), the presence of any native life seems in need of validation.
The most interesting information regarding Crait is then possibly the history of its caverns as mines, which however still isn’t elaborated on as much as it could be. The images of the mines are some of the most beautiful in the comic, however.
The visual side is probably the best part of the comics. Crait, with its stunning natural environments and the contrast of red and white, is a setting just begging to be re-created in visual media. If a story set on Crait had to be made, it is good it happened in a comic and not in a written novel.
The artist Mike Mayhew’s style tends to be quite a bit “photo-realistic”, especially as far as characters are concerned. This may or may not be good, depending on your visual preferences. Han, Leia and Luke look exactly the way they do in the old movies, and especially some of the first images made me recall specific scenes the artist undoubtedly used as reference. What works with the trio doesn’t work as well with Wedge Antilles, who appears in a minor role. If he wasn’t screaming his name aloud, I wouldn’t have known who that was supposed to be. (Not sure if that’s Mike Mayhew’s fault, however. I am pretty sure that if Wedge wore orange glasses like he does in the films, I would have recognised him.)
It is a pity the plot runs a bit from nowhere to nowhere. Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, the new faces of SW writing, haven’t really shown much narrative depth in this one. We know from The Last Jedi that the Crait base was abandoned, so the story ends with (…spoilers…) the Rebels leaving. That wouldn’t be a problem if the story had something more to say. The whole plot leaves the feeling of a useless endeavour, sort of “one day, Leia decided to go for a stroll, only it happened on Crait”. Even the characters appearing here don’t have any depth whatsoever – this concerns both Bail Organa’s old friend who shows the facility to the Rebels, and the Imperial Scar squad commander Kreel (who appears also in other Star Wars comics, but here, he doesn’t do anything apart from having a lightsaber – and the story doesn’t elaborate on this either, for those readers who see him for the first time).
The nicest touch in the story is Luke’s “farmboy” attitude, and some good old bickering between Han and Leia, which is portrayed very faithfully in line with the old trilogy.
I will repeat again, therefore: the comic’s chief value is in portraying young Leia, Luke and Han in their “old” style, both visually and especially personality-wise. They haven’t yet matured. If you love the farmboy, the scoundrel and the princess, then this is one small treat for you. But if you are interested in Crait itself, or in a meaningful story about the Rebellion’s humble beginnings, this won’t probably do it for you. It is a pity: a little more effort, a little more plot, and the surroundings combined with the presence of the classic trio might have created something a bit more memorable.