Vrad ditches Luke after the attack begins, but ultimately has a change of heart and makes a suicide run against the Executor, weakening its shields and allowing the Milennium Falcon to score a hit against its engines. The damage is minor, but keeps the super star destroyer occupied with repairs long enough for the rebel evactuaton to take place.
The following sequence drips with tension and excitement as the Mon Calamari create a diversion, attacking the Imperial blockade while the rebels exit the Yavin system via a route that takes them past an unstable star. The Executor is repaired and Vader moves to intercept, but the overly anxious Admiral Griff -- originally introduced as Vader's subordinate during the arc where Luke infiltrated the Imperial construction yard some time back -- brings his own fleet out of hypserspace too close to Vader's, resulting in the destruction of Griff's ships and the ultimate escape of the rebels.
There had been some good story arcs from Goodwin and Williamson prior to this one, but the escape from Yavin 4, bringing together multiple plot threads from previous storylines (as discussed last time), combined with the nail-biting excitement of the rebels' race against Vader, stands out as possibly the highlight of their time on the strip.
|Ozzel mode -- on!|
Goodwin and Williamson still have a few more stories up their sleeves after the epic escape from Yavin. The rebels arrive safely on Hoth, but Han, Luke, C-3PO and R2-D2 are forced into a detour which leads them to a planet, a seeming paradise, which houses a dark secret in the form of a "mind witch" who uses her visitors' thoughts against them. Goodwin takes this brief opportunity to finally -- for the first time since the strip started -- put Luke and Darth Vader -- or a facsimile thereof -- together in the same panels, however fleetingly.
|Raskar (image via Wookieepedia)|
Raskar takes the spice and makes amends with Han, but the entire group is immediately captured by a band of bounty hunters led by Dengar (here accidentally referred to repeatedly as Zuckuss). Also among the hunters are Bossk and Skorr, his appearance proving a nice bookend to the Goodwin/Williamson run. He appeared in their very first story arc years before, and now in their final extended arc, he puts in another appearance -- and meets his demise during a struggle with Han.
Boba Fett shows up as well, as the true leader of the bounty hunters. He has a moment with Darth Vader, where he works out an agreement to provide Vader with Luke while also delivering Han to Jabba -- retroactive foreshadowing of his role in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.
Han, Luke, and Chewie eventually escape the bounty hunters, and head straight into Goodwin's and Williamson's final, truncated story arc. I'm uncertain exactly when they learned the strip was to be canceled, but they manage to wrap things up satisfactorily as our heroes head to a jungle planet to rescue Threepio and Artoo, on a mission for the rebels. Vader attempts to read Luke's mind from across the galaxy by way of a cybernetic enhancement system, but Han and Artoo save young Skywalker, and the story comes to an end.
I've already mentioned that Goodwin and Williamson had a terrific run on this strip, so I can only reiterate that here. Their stories are mostly all engaging, and even when the premises are occasionally flimsy, the gorgeous artwork is more than enough to keep a reader's interest. Goodwin's plotting is tight, and the serialization of multiple plot threads is extraordinarily well done. I haven't read many adventure strips like this one, so I'm uncertain if Goodwin's approach, carrying story points across years of daily strips, is outside the norm, but I suspect it may be -- which makes his craftsmanship all the more impressive.