Review by C.J. Bunce
Last week Dark Horse Comics released the trade paperback and hardcover of The Star Wars—the eight-issue comic book series adapting George Lucas’s original screenplay for Star Wars from 1973, including its original three-word title. Writer J.W. Rinzler, artist Mike Mayhew, and colorist Rain Beredo created a parallel universe for Star Wars that stands by itself as the single best Star Wars universe graphic novel ever produced. It’s now hit #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List for Paperback Graphic Books and #3 for Hardcover Graphic Books. If you dodge Times bestsellers because they are usually trite, banal and over-hyped, The Star Wars is certainly commercial, but it’s the exception to the rule. You will not have read a Star Wars comic book this much fun and so brilliantly and vividly illustrated since the classic Archie Goodwin/Al Williamson adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back.
Lucas’s giant story, fleshed out over six movies via his Episodes I-VI, was concise in its infancy, and greatly right-sized and polished by Rinzler for this adaptation. Its genius is in its essential Kurosawa-inspired story elements: last of their breed wizard-warriors versus a suffocating empire led by heartless dictators, a broken royal family saved by a band of rogues, a mix of disparate races and conflicts, and an unlikely pair of androids.
The planets and systems are not the same, yet they are entirely familiar: the desert planet Aquilae for Tatooine, a wookie battle on Yavin for Ewoks on Endor. Some of the occupants of the story are familiar, like Han Solo and Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Yet here they are very different. Annikin (not Anakin) Starkiller and brother Deak would later become the impetuous Luke Skywalker. Obi-Wan Kenobi was far more energetic and a hands-on warrior when he was the bearded and military garbed Jedi-Bendu General Luke Skywalker. Han Solo by every appearance was a cousin of Swamp Thing. Princess Leia would become more dynamic and tough in the movies, but was originally more like Padme Amidala in her infatuation with her young love, Annikin Starkiller.
We thought we’d share some of the best exclusives and other offerings scheduled to be available at San Diego Comic-Con International this weekend for those of you who just can’t decide what to spend your money on. There’s too much to be able to see everything at the big Con, so we’ve listed booth numbers so you can make sure you don’t miss out on those toys, posters, and comic books that you simply must have.
But first, how about some early SDCC reveals, like this image of Roy Harper’s new Arsenal costume from CW’s Arrow:
and this great new SDCC 2014 exclusive poster for the final installment of The Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies:
And what’s better than news of a new comic book series tie-in from IDW Publishing for Orphan Black?
Now on to the exclusives:
From the Weta Workshop (Booth #3613) you can get this Smaug scales T-shirt inspired by The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies:
and a pre-release copy of the new book The Art of Film Magic, signed edition:
From Alex Ross Art (Booth #2419) pick up original comic book art or limited prints, or this great 10-print edition portfolio of some of Alex Ross’s Marvel Comics work:
BOOM! Studios (Booth #2229) will be selling several exclusive cover variant comic books, including RoboCop #1:
It’s Wednesday again, and that means the new comic books are out for the week at your local comic book store. We’ve got several previews for a whopping seven issues of new books that should have something for everyone. There’s Dark Horse Comics’ great ongoing Star Wars series, which will be wrapping up this year. Then there’s Bill Willingham’s excellent steampunk series Legenderry for Dynamite Comics, reuniting the best of classic pulp heroes with new twists, like the Six Thousand Dollar Man. We also have previews of two issues from Archie Comics–one from Archie Comics Digest and the other from the SEGA video game universe: Sonic the Hedgehog.
Also, a new Angry Birds series begins, IDW is releasing a brief history of Godzilla comics, and a preview of the next issue of the ongoing Star Trek series is here, all from IDW Publishing.
After the break, check out previews for one or all of them, courtesy of their respective comic book publishers.
Earlier this week Disney announced the casting for Star Wars Episode VII. Global highlights of this year’s “May the 4th” included Star Wars themed rugby matches in Australia, Star Wars 6K runs in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico, character appearances in London, fan events in Shanghai, China and an event at the Roman Colosseum in Italy. Through a collaboration with NASA and Space Center Houston a message from R2-D2 was delivered from International Space Station.
For the “May the 4th” worldwide Star Wars celebration Disney released its first full trailer for its new animated series Star Wars Rebels. According to Disney the new trailer for the animated series was broadcast in more than 160 countries 439 million households worldwide. Whether 439 million people saw it yesterday or whether it was just available to that many homes is not clear from the Disney release.
Tomorrow is the fourth of May, and you may hear from Star Wars fans all over the phrase “May the 4th Be With You.” They aren’t lisping. Star Wars fans are gathering around the world for their annual celebration of all things Star Wars. With Episode VII just around the corner in 2015 there is plenty to discuss and speculate. It also means you can take advantage of some great deals available tomorrow only.
Only 593 Days To Go
Dark Horse Comics is offering 150 digital Star Wars comics for only $100–considering many had original cover prices at $3-4 each, the sixty-seven cents per book is quite a good deal. There’s also a kids’ digital mega-bundle for only $30, and free digital starter bundles including Issues #1-4 of Star Wars Legacy, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, and Star Wars Empire. Go to Dark Horse Digital’s website here for details.
Entertainment Earth is offering a whopping 40% off all Star Wars action figures (in-stock), also for May 4, 2014, only. Click here to check out the selection, which includes the new Star Wars Black Series figures. For the week of May 4 through May 10, all Star Wars statues and busts are 20% off. Click here to see the selection of busts and the selection of statues here.
Back in the 1970s Marvel Comics released the first new entry in the Star Wars universe for the franchise which then consisted of the original movie alone. With Star Wars Issue #7, Marvel followed Han Solo and Chewbacca beyond the movie adaptation, as they explored the seedier elements of society–the kinds of places a Corellian would roam with fellow smugglers and other dregs. When Disney recently announced the coming continuation of Star Wars in a third trilogy, everyone knew it had to take place in the far away galaxy decades away from the events in Return of the Jedi. Then Disney hinted at other movies in the Star Wars universe, and possibly a Han Solo story.
A Han Solo movie is intriguing. Although the filmmakers are likely to target a younger audience with a young actor for Han Solo, I can’t help think how much fun it would be to see Firefly’s Nathan Fillion play our favorite scoundrel. Comic book writer Matt Kindt (Mind Mgmt) is now writing one of the last of Dark Horse Comics’s Star Wars stories before Disney pulls the franchise away at year end, and Issue #1 follows Han Solo almost from the view of a modern fanboy googly-eyed as he meets Han Solo in person. And the Han that is admired could easily be a Han played by Fillion. Think Fillion playing Han Solo in a Blade Runner noir vibe.
Coming next Wednesday, Kindt plus penciller Marco Castiello, inker Dan Parsons, and colorist Gabe Eltaeb take us back to the days before The Empire Strikes Back with Star Wars: Rebel Heist. After the break take a look at these preview pages from Dark Horse Comics:
The first previews are out for Star Wars: Rebels, a new Disney XD animated series due out in Fall 2014. And the first images and clips, featuring new characters from the series, are exactly what I expected to see once Disney got hold of the Star Wars franchise.
It’s Star Wars, Aladdin style.
Not to knock Aladdin. It was a fun Disney film as Disney films go. But this is supposed to be Star Wars. Where the animated series Clone Wars was accessible by an adult and child audience alike, Star Wars: Rebels seems to be a bit on the silly side, the kind of antics and humor you’d expect from those sidekicks in your average big-screen, animated Disney flick. Unlikely to be targeted at the fan base, instead opting for new, younger viewers. But why exclude the fan base?
Judge for yourself. After the break, check out these first clips and images from Star Wars: Rebels:
Dark Horse Comics is offering a valentine to anyone who wants to catch up on one or more of 38 Star Wars digital comics available on their website. Their promotion states that you can save up to 50% off cover price but we’re seeing $2.99 books going for as low as $0.99 and even a $0.49 for Brian Wood’s Star Wars, Issue #1.
We recommend the great Star Wars: Infinities books, a “what if?” alternate version of each of the three original trilogy stories. You’ll also find the classic Dark Empire series, and romantics can check out Star Wars: Union, where Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade tie the knot, and the Valentine’s Day version of the Star Wars Christmas Special in Judd Winick’s one-shot Breaking the Ice issue. Disney has announced they are throwing aside much of the expanded universe built over the past 35 years, but we think they are nuts if they don’t include Mara Jade. Find out more about her in Dark Horse Comics.
Click here to check out the available books.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Last Saturday Mythbusters took on Star Wars story elements in one of its best shows in its long run. How do Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman keep up the momentum? By sticking to the show’s unique format, keeping the original duo of makers and breakers that got us hooked on mythbusting in the first place, and giving fans the only place they can see science presented like nowhere else. Giving us a season opener with the greatest space fantasy of all time proves the series can continue as long as these guys want it to keep running.
The first Star Wars element they pursued in the Star Wars special was the chasm scene in A New Hope where Luke and Leia swing to safety in the Death Star while being pursued by Stormtroopers. Instead of simply proving out each element–which they did by testing a grappling hook, and having Jamie swing across with and without a Leia stand-in–they went into full cosplay mode with Jamie in Luke’s outfit and Stormtroopers from the 501st Legion cosplay group acting out the scene. Although Jamie noted that in a life or death situation it’d be difficult to get that grappling hook to stick on the first try, they determined the whole scene plausible. A big win for Star Wars considering these guys usually find movie myths don’t make the cut.