Review by C.J. Bunce
It might not be the best thing since sliced bread, but it is the best thing since the original Star Wars trilogy for fans of the original classic, maybe even the best thing since The Empire Strikes Back. It is Dark Horse Comics’ new Star Wars eight-issue limited series titled The Star Wars. Regular borg.com readers today get a chance to see what all of our whooping and hollering has been about as Issue #1 hits comic book stores across North America.
What’s the big deal? As much as Dark Horse Comics is the rightful home of all Star Wars expanded universe comic book series and every month proves why the Star Wars licensing should stay with the Oregon-based publisher, this new series raises the bar even higher. First off, it for the first time adapts the equivalent of “The Lost Ark of the Covenant” of original movie scripts–the original 1974 George Lucas fully fleshed-out screenplay for Star Wars, then titled “The Star Wars.” This makes it a once in a lifetime opportunity for both script writer J.W. Rinzler and superstar comic book artist Mike Mayhew to really show-off their best work of their careers so far. And it gives us not only what Star Wars fans already want: more Star Wars, but it’s giving us more of the kind of Star Wars that caught us all up in this crazy Star Wars Universe in the first place, where half of the population of the United States has hocked their life savings to own complete sets of every Star Wars trading card, comic, action figure, bust, poster, coin, stamp, glassware, stuffed figure, game, book, sticker, costume, mask, prop weapon, toy, shoes, shirt, cereal, fruit roll-up… And it’s something altogether new. It’s retro-Star Wars.
Dark Horse Comics already presented us with an interesting comic book series this year, bridging the period between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in a new monthly series. It was a good way to give us some of that nostalgia. The Star Wars is even better. The Star Wars Issue #1 begins with a series opener that will instantly convince you this is something unique. It’s own sci-fi event. Raw, gritty story elements that never would have made it to a Hollywood movie in the 1970s. Would this story have made Star Wars as beloved as what we saw in the original trilogy of films? Who’s to say, but after all that happens in Issue #1 you will be left thinking it very well could have.
It amounts to a parallel universe, a “What if?” story. Before Luke and Leia were refined into the characters we know today, before other characters were merged and eliminated for the sake of streamlined storytelling, before names of places and concepts were nailed down there was this. General Luke Skywalker, once first bodyguard to the Emperor himself, a tough John Wayne type, not a scrawny, whiny farm kid. Kane Starkiller, fellow Jedi Knight and cyborg who is more metal than man. His son Annikin, a tough kid that looks like Wash from Firefly. His smarter and wiser younger brother Deak, just at the beginning of his Jedi-Bendu training. A rough intergalactic trader named Bail Antilles. Leia, the daughter of Tarkin? With siblings Biggs and Windy? Governor Hoedaack and General Darth Vader work under the Imperial government under an Emperor Ming-inspired Emperor and an elder who is an ugly, giant pointy-eared troll–part Yoda and part Jabba the Hutt.
But don’t give George Lucas all the credit. Rarely does someone get a creative team this right, teaming Star Wars writer and expert Rinzler with the realism and stylistic artistry of Mayhew. The imagery here couldn’t be better. This looks like Star Wars, but it’s an expanded Star Wars, and Mayhew took inspiration from original concept art, some that has never been published before, so many new futuristic designs are in store for us. Rinzler has adapted a political thriller and twisting tale of a complex society mixing fantasy with science fiction.
And the best part? We’ve got seven more months of more of this classic, retro Star Wars story to look forward to. Who could ask for more?
In the words of an alternative galaxy far, far away… May the force of others be with you all.