Somewhat frustratingly, Journey to Rise of Skywalker: Allegiance is a difficult one to gage.

I was really excited for these books, because I’m excited for The Rise of Skywalker: and a well-timed appetite of a series to lead us in to that event is something I was eager for.

Whether Allegiance fulfils that role is difficult to judge.

It’s hard to tell how significantly or directly the events of this story will play in to The Rise of Skywalker. Whether, for example, the Mon Cala will be a significant part in Episode IXAllegiance #4 ends with the words ‘to be continued in The Rise of Skywalker’.

That could be a general, vague statement – or it could suggest that the film could pick up precisely where these comic books leave off; specifically with the First Order beginning an attack on Mon Cala.

Putting aside the question of how significant this is to the actual film itself, let’s just look at what Star Wars: Allegiance has to offer.

The story centers almost entirely on General Leia going to Mon Cala to convince the Mon Cala and the Quarren to give up their neutrality and join the Resistance. With her are Rey, Rose Tico and Threepio.

This is an interesting, if somewhat surprisingly low-key, premise for a comic-book series that is meant to lead us directly in to the most important Star Wars film since 2005. On the one hand, the Mon Cala’s involvement in Star Wars canon and history – particularly in the Rebel Alliance and the fight against the Galactic Empire – is legendary and substantial: so it makes sense for Leia to go to them and try to urge them to live up to that history.

We also get an introduction to ‘Aftab’, the son of Admiral Ackbar: and we get some delayed reaction to Ackbar’s on-screen death in The Last Jedi.

On the other hand, I was really hoping for this series to offer us something deeper and more substantial to really lay groundwork for Episode IX and to help ramp up the hype and excitement. Allegiance, in my view, doesn’t really do that.

Which is not to say it’s a bad story. It isn’t. I just hoped for something more.

We really don’t get much of a sense of Kylo Ren in these books, for example: his state of mind or the particulars of what his supreme-leadership of the First Order is like. That’s a glaring omission for me; and a comic-book series like this really could’ve explored that and helped really set the stage for The Rise of Skywalker.

I get that it was probably not in the job description for comic-book writers to risk giving away too much in terms of what’s going to happen in Episode IX; but there are ways to steer clear of that while still telling a more substantial, powerful story.

All of that being said, Allegiance does offer a somewhat interesting story, at least.

Taking us back to Mon Cala and bringing that world and its people into the Sequel Trilogy mix is a direction that has merit; grounded, as it is, in Star Wars canon and history and evoking everything from the ‘Water Wars’ arc of the Clone Wars TV series to some of the best material in the Charles Soulle Darth Vader series (reviewed here), as well as various other expanded universe material over the years. The Mon Cala are significant, both materially and symbolically – no questions there.

So it makes sense for Leia to seek them out and for them to play a part in this story: but I don’t know that it makes sense to have this be the basis for all four comic books in this lead-in to, again, the most important Star Wars film since 2005. I feel like the Mon Cala thing could’ve been handled in just one of these four books, with the rest being devoted to other potential aspects of the broader situation – like Kylo Ren’s leadership, for example.

So, as worthwhile as I find this focus on Mon Cala, I think this series should’ve had a bigger scope. I’m guessing now that this attack on Mon Cala and the issue of the Mon Cala entering the war might feature in the opening scenes of The Rise of Skywalker: but I still don’t think we needed four books to deal with the business of Leia trying to convince the Mon Cala to join the Resistance.

Likewise, while it’s nice to see Poe and Finn off on a mission together, their mission itself – which, again, spans all four books – really isn’t very interesting. Which is a shame. Again, I just feel they could’ve crafted out something more impactful with these four comic books to really pave the way for Episode IX in a more compelling way.

There are things I like here though; and things worthy of note, as we approach The Rise of Skywalker.

First is Rey. What we seem to find here is a Rey who is bored, feeling like her skills and powers are being wasted. She also seems angry at times – angrier than we’ve seen her before. And that’s interesting; suggesting that this is the state we’re going to find her in Episode IX (which also seems to be reinforced by little things in the trailers).

Again, I feel they could’ve done something more interesting with Rey in these books: but, even so, it’s interesting to note how edgy she seems to be here. I also like the thing of her fighting a big adversary in an arena – a ritual challenge of sorts. It’s a very Star Wars thing; and it very much evokes the kind of thing we’d have once seen Anakin or Luke engaged in, so it’s great to see Rey in this kind of situation now here.

The way this unfolds – and Rey is essentially fighting for the lives of her friends – makes Rey feel like an old-school Jedi Knight and I really like that.

I also like that the Finn/Poe story brings in characters from the recent Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge series; which is a nice touch, as it helps keep everything feeling connected. Allegiance also scores a point for remembering to include Rose Tico in the action.

But, generally speaking, this does broadly feel like a missed opportunity to really do something more with all of these characters and to really lay better groundwork leading us in to The Rise of Skywalker.

Star Wars: Allegiance is a fun read. But it feels more like filler than it does a serious prelude to The Rise of Skywalker. Which makes it a wasted opportunity.

S. Awan

Independent journalist. Pariah. Believer in human rights, human dignity and liberty. Musician. Substandard Jedi. All-round failure. And future ghost.

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