I mean, when you’re the site of the first ever weapons test of the goddamn Death Star, you’re never going to end up in a state you’d typically describe as “well.” But this week’s Star Wars comic picks up with the planet only to find it a terrifying remembrance of what even a fraction of the power of the Death Star could do to a planet.
Star Wars #38—the first from the creative team of the first Darth Vader volume, Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca, joined by Guru e-FX on colors and Clayton Cowles on lettering—sees Han, Leia, and Luke return to the planet after Jedha City was carved open by the Death Star during the events of Rogue One. The trio is hoping to find the reformed Partisans, the fringe guerrilla group at odds with the Rebellion and lead by the now-dead Saw Guerrera, and convince them to leave Jedha and join the Alliance’s cause. What they find instead is a horrifying sight.
The damage we saw in Rogue One was extreme, but Star Wars #38 shows the full extent of what was actually done to the planet. It wasn’t just a single city getting vaporized. Half of Jedha is reduced to slag, blackened and perpetually burning, as whole chunks of it break apart and escape beyond its atmosphere. What’s left of the “habitable” side is now churned up by violent sandstorms, to boot. Meanwhile, despite the destruction of the Death Star and Jedha’s ruin, the Empire is still interested in the crystals that made the planet a target in the first place. There’s an interesting symmetry on display, the Rebels and Imperials returning to—for better or worse—try to capitalize on what remains of a shattered world.
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Whether either faction will succeed in doing so remains to be seen in the rest of this storyline, but for now: Jedha’s in a pretty crappy place, all things considered. And that was just a single chamber of the Death Star’s superlaser. In actually leaving something so vividly tangible behind, it almost feels like a stronger reminder of the weapon’s awful might than the total lack of, well, any of Alderaan.