Throughout the EU and the Star Wars Canon it becomes more and more clear that the Jedi Purge left many Jedi still alive in the years between the rise of the Empire and the Battle of Yavin. We all, of course, know about Yoda and Obi-Wan; and Star Wars: Rebels has shown us that people like Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka are still around as well. So it stands to reason that in the EU many other Force-users may also have survived and issue 49 of the classic Marvel series is a demonstration of this idea.
In The Last Jedi Luke unexpectedly meets one of these Force-users on a jungle planet while answering a distress signal that the Rebellion picked up. The signal is believed to have come from the lost Prince Denid who is the rightful heir to the throne on planet Velmor. His parents were killed by the Empire for supporting the Rebellion, but he escaped into exile with his betrothed, Princess Loren; and a Force-sensitive alien named Jedidiah. Jedidiah had refused to join the Jedi Order because he desired to stay on Velmor and advise Denid’s father against the Empire. The only member of the royal family left alive on Velmor was Denid’s Imperial-sympathising brother, Anod, who is soon to come of age and claim the throne for himself.
Luke, Princess Leia, Artoo, and Threepio land on this jungle planet (which remains unnamed in the comic) and meet Prince Denid who has been surviving there for years. He tells the rebels that his ship was low on fuel and Loren was killed when they crashed on the planet and Jedidiah eventually suffered an injury that left him mentally unstable. Together the two have been living on the planet hoping someone would eventually receive their distress call.
Thanks to his brain injuries Jedidiah thinks he is Jedi even though he never joined the Order and brandishes a large tree branch like a lightsaber. Luke pays the alien no mind and sees him more as an annoying nuisance than anything else. But, Luke and Leia agree to take the two exiles in their Y-wing which had been modified to carry passengers to Velmor so the Prince may claim his birthright.
They arrive just in time to stop the ceremony in which Prince Anod would have been coronated and after a DNA analysis it is soon proven that Denid is who he says he is. This bodes ill for Prince Anod and Regent Zelor who have both been craving power on Velmor for themselves. A female Imperial officer stationed on the planet named Captain Traal equally has no desire to see a Rebel-sympathiser gain the kingdom of Velmor and conspires with Zelor and Anod to have Denid and his companions assassinated. Anod hopes this will help him keep the throne while Zelor hopes to additionally have Anod assassinated so he can maintain his position as Regent of Velmor.
Luke, who came on the planet disguised as a scoundrel (apparently that’s a job in high demand in the Galaxy) is accosted by Captain Traal who tries to seduce him in order to convince him to kill Prince Denid and Princess Leia (who is disguised as Princess Loren). He fools her into thinking he agrees and later tells Leia of the plot.
Later Luke turns his blaster on Traal instead of his friends but before he can take any action Zelor blasts the weapon out of his hand and then shoots Leia and Denid. Believing them to be dead Luke ignites his lightsaber and reveals his identity to Captain Traal and Zelor. Captain Traal wants to capture Skywalker alive and orders him not to be killed. Zelor ignores her and instead decides to make his move for the throne by attacking her with his blaster. She successfully dodges, but the same cannot be said for Anod, however, who is killed by Zelor. Luke flees into a forest and meditates on the Force to clear his mind and give himself knowledge of his enemies location. The crazed Jedidiah senses Luke using the Force and realises his friend is in danger.
While Jedidiah rushes to Luke’s whereabouts Luke engages Regent Zelor in lightsaber combat (because for some reason Zelor has an energy sword of his own) and defeats him. Zelor is dead, but Luke fails to sense Captain Traal behind him ready to mow him down with her blaster; but before she can do so Jedidiah jumps in between the two of them and is killed by the blaster fire. Given extra time Luke gets the upper hand and knocks Traal unconscious. He soon discovers that Leia and Denid were not killed, but just stunned and after Prince Denid is coronated Luke gives Jedidiah a proper Jedi funeral and expresses regret for dismissing him earlier. He acknowledges that the mad alien had the soul of a true Jedi Knight after all.
A few plot holes aside this is another example of the classic Marvel comics giving us a good story that is both entertaining and true to the spirit of Star Wars.
Luke is still very immature, but he is growing which is good for the writers to do as we get closer to Return of the Jedi. He initially harbours petty jealousy toward Prince Denid over his friendship with Leia, but grows to respect him as the story progresses.
Some of the the political intrigue is interesting although there are some problems with it.
We know from A New Hope that with the Imperial Senate dissolved regional governors kept all Imperial systems under direct control which makes me question any planet with ties to the Empire being allowed to maintain a monarchy. The Empire is no respecter of local culture and would not be so open to letting a system retain its governmental preferences. Also the happy ending for the people of Velmor is highly inappropriate considering that it is still under Imperial scrutiny and one of their officers was attacked by Rebels who were supported by the now current monarch. You can’t sit there and tell me Velmor is not going to pay dearly for that.
That being said I really did like the Jedidiah story which I thought was regrettably pushed too far back as a subplot for an issue that is titled The Last Jedi. I would have liked to see more of him before he died saving Luke. But my only real gripe was that I found it hard to believe that Jedidiah would have been able to refuse the call to join the Jedi Order. Force-sensitives are initiated into the Jedi at very early ages and the Order was always reluctant to take on older initiates which makes Jedidiah’s refusal as an adult a bit contradictory to what we know about the Jedi. Otherwise this was a good story that I really liked and as I do not expect perfection I see this as a great example of the classic Marvel series at its best.
Check next week for Star Wars EU Reviews Supplemental: Which Order to View the Films and may the Force be with you.