Yes, The Star Wars- as in George Lucas’ original drafting of the famous space saga. Dark Horse’s vision of this rarely seen classic is definitely different, somewhat strange and undeniably cool.
I’ve been a big fan of Star Wars since I was a kid, but I guess that’s no revelation. I doubt that there are too many guys who grew up during the ’80s who aren’t. There’s just something about that original trilogy that’s magical. It’s sci-fi, it’s fantasy, it’s… Star Wars. There’s a reason that it’s endured and is arguably more popular now thirty-someodd years after it’s debut than it’s ever been before.
Before Star Wars made it to the silver screen though, creator George Lucas went through ideas that never made it past his first complete drafting of the story- and that’s what publisher Dark Horse Comics has brought forth with The Star Wars.
Solo isn’t in the first issue of The Star Wars though, so we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. The opening act of this saga from a very different galaxy centers on Annikin (yes, two n’s), his father and Luke. Anniken and his family have been hunted to the ends of the galaxy by the Empire and their Sith assassins and have finally decided it’s time to go on the offensive.The book is directly based and adapted from the original screenplay for Star Wars and is both simultaneously recognizable as the galaxy far, far away and completely new. There’s plenty in The Star Wars that seems the same- the Sith, the Jedi, the Empire… all here and accounted for. What’s different is that Annikin Starkiller is the hero, Luke Skywalker is a full-on Jedi General (and not related to Starkiller) and Han Solo is a “big green alien”. Really.
One of the last free systems stands under the command of General Luke Skywalker. A Jedi-Bendu warrior who’s pledged to end the New Empire’s dominion and destroy the Knights of Sith, Skywalker is attempting to rally forces to his side as the story begins. He’s got little time for a padawan, but that’s exactly what happens when Annikin unexpectedly comes crashing onto the scene with his father.
I’ve never read the original screenplay that this is based upon, so I’m not sure about the amount of changes that writer JW Rinzler has had to make to it. I’m sure that there were plenty though as converting a screenplay over to a comic book isn’t exactly the easiest of tasks. Rinzler does a great job of it here though and conveys a vastly altered beginning to a story that everyone knows in depth.
The tale moves quickly from alien planet, to Darth Vader’s (no, he’s not Annikin in this one) command ship, to deep space with an excellent flow and a pace that makes your reading experience end much too soon. That’s not a complaint, by the way. I found that the first issue of The Star Wars ended before I was ready for it to and I would have liked very much to have had another couple of chapters to go with it.
Like the script, Mike Mayhew’s art is excellent. Moments between family members and meetings amongst conspirators are as exciting as the big moments with grandiose scale. Mayhew’s work is brilliantly detailed and his characters seem perfectly realized. This feels like Star Wars all the way through, in spite of its radical differences.
Helping in that regard are the ship and planet designs. Early on, there’s a squadron of Star Destroyers buzzing a cityscape- yes, a squadron. In The Star Wars, the New Empire’s Star Destroyers are every bit as feared as the ones you know better, but they’re more like fighter craft than capital ships.
It’s little things like that, that help bridge the gap between the stories of the Star Wars films and The Star Wars comic book. It’s great stuff.
I’m sure you can tell, but I enjoyed every minute of The Star Wars. This 8-part series kicked off with a bang in issue 1 and introduced many of the places and characters that fans love, but from an entirely different perspective.
The Star Wars is honestly so different from Star Wars that I could seriously see it being the basis of an entirely new sci-fi series. There’s more than enough detail in the plot and history just in the first issue alone to expand this prehistoric Star Wars into its own animal.
No fan of Lucas’ universe should miss this one.
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