He’s as hairy as a 1970’s shag carpet, as loyal as your childhood pet dog, and will occasionally rip people’s arms out of their sockets when upset.
He’s Chewbacca—one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe. With Marvel now stewarding the comic division of Star Wars, it was a no-brainer to give Chewie the spotlight with a five-issue miniseries titled simply, Chewbacca.
Chewbacca #1 begins just after the Death Star was destroyed during the Battle of Yavin. In the initial panels, readers are not introduced to our favourite Wookie, but a teenaged heroine named Zarro and her father Arrat. The two live on the planet Andelm and are being accosted by Jaum—an odd looking overlord with what can best be described as a fishbowl on his head. Arrat owes Jaum a debt, and being unable to pay, Arrat and his daughter are sent into a mine to harvest precious beetle larva. It is there that Zarro escapes and luckily runs into a certain Wookie whose spacecraft has landed on Andelm needing repairs. The two begin their five-issue venture to rid the planet of both Jaum and his newest ally—the Empire.
Chewbacca is a solid miniseries. It offers fans a chance to spend quality time with Chewie. He’s not acting as Han’s sidekick or helping Luke and Leia with the Rebellion. He’s on his own adventure, taking on thugs and Stormtroopers alike. Without his Rebel Alliance compatriots, Chewie demonstrates his immense strength and raw power and shows why most in the Star Wars universe don’t want to be on the wrong end of anything with a Wookie.
Writer Gerry Duggan does a satisfying job offering readers a relatable story about a character whose only form of communication consists only of grunts and growls. The miniseries is accessible, and through Chewie’s interactions with Zarro we learn more about the Wookie. It’s through the subtleties of this miscommunication that the reader sees Chewie’s most admired qualities: unquestioned loyalty, brute force and the courage to stand up for those who can’t. Chewie is exactly who we thought he’d be. There is really nothing new as far as his character profile, but it is enjoyable to see him not only in full, glorified action, but smaller moments too; gambling to earn enough for a flight stabilizer, relaxing outreached in a field of flowers or acknowledging the heroic efforts of Zarro in his own special way.
The one thing working against Chewbacca is that, in a time when other Star Wars comics are worthy of a Teen rating, this series is not. Although there are a few violent moments, the storyline is written for a younger audience. Phil Noto’s artwork reflects this – it’s more playful and lighter than what one would see in Marvel’s Star Wars or Darth Vader comic series. In comparison, Chewbacca falls a little behind those series. Aside from that personal preference, the miniseries is commendable and a worthy part of Star Wars canon.