In the original Star Wars trilogy, we saw Luke Skywalker pull off amazing shit. Destroying the Death Star. The cool-arse sequence where he stormed Jabba the Hutt's skiff. (That somersault!) We saw him struggle a lot too. But, the newest issue of the Star Wars comic gives us a glimpse at how bad his self-doubt was.
Spoilers follow for Star Wars # 1- 4.
Thus far, Marvel's new Star Wars comics by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday have plunged readers into a tense, roller-coaster adventure that happens right after A New Hope. Remember, this series comes in the midst of Disney-owned Lucasfilm deciding out what is still canon out of multiple decades' worth of Star Wars Expanded Universe lore. It's a whole new ballgame as far as what the franchise's characters did in between the movies. In issues #1-3 of the new comic, Princess Leia leads a strike team on a mission to destroy an Imperial weapons manufacturing base.
The opening arc shows Luke communicating with Obi-Wan Kenobi through the Force and trying his damnedest to channel his newfound abilities. Things go to hell once Darth Vader shows up and the Rebel team barely gets away with their lives.
When Luke comes face-to-face with Darth Vader in issue #2, he also has to confront how much he has to learn about using the Force.
One of the best parts of the Star Wars comic has been the way that Aaron's been tickling what he knows that readers must already know. Folding in an encounter that sows the seeds of Episode V's big revelation is a good foreshadowing.
As issue #2 goes on, the mission gets even more chaotic, and Luke beats up on himself even more...
Just because he's not a real Jedi yet doesn't mean he can't be a hero. It's the "farm boy" side of him — which spent time perfecting his marksmanship on boring ol' Tatooine — that helps turn the tide and bail out Han and Leia.
When the rebels escape, you can see how this meeting with Luke — whose name he doesn't even know at this point — has affected Vader.
This subplot makes a great hooks for the series, because an audience already aware of the link between Skywalker father and son definitely wants to see how the characters themselves become aware of their connection.
Out today, the series' fourth issue is a breather. Luke is struggling to find a sense of purpose despite another Rebel victory. One of the reasons that the Force works as a conceit is that it requires faith from both the readers and the characters. People like Han Solo don't believe in the Force and are shocked when confronted with it. Luke isn't dubious about the Force; it's himself he has a lack of faith in.
All of this obviously happens before Luke goes to Dagobah and receives his training from Yoda. But the coolest part of Star Wars' first four issues is that they show how far Luke has to go get even that far. They show a Luke Skywalker on the brink of quitting, a gloomy side of the character that only got a little bit of screen time.
It's interesting that issue #4 comes out right after the latest Force Awakens trailer, because the most tantalising part of the latest teaser for the next Star Wars movie is that ponderous voiceover by Luke Skywalker. Its promise is that Luke will possibly be following in Ben Kenobi's footsteps, mentoring a Jedi and helping rebuild the lost order of justice-seeking knights. He'll presumably be more centred and calm than in New Hope or Empire, older and ready to be a mentor to younger characters. So it's great to have a Star Wars comic coming out that shows just how far he will have come in his own hero's journey.