THE STAR WARS #1
Written by J.W. Rinzler
Art by Mike Mayhew
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Released September 4, 2013
Dark Horse takes us “Longer Ago, in a galaxy even further away” with The Star Wars, an adaptation of George Lucas’ long talked about first draft of what would become the original Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
J.W. Rinzler and Mike Mayhew have been tasked in taking the once mythic first draft of Star Wars and crafting it into a comic book. The results are mixed, and it is hard to fault either Rinzler or Mayhew, as the story clearly indicates why this was a first draft that was ultimately discarded in favor of the saga that we all know and love. Rinzler begins to tell the story of General Luke Skywalker, one of the last remaining Jedi-Bindu and general in the armed forces of the last remaining independent system of Aquilae. Also involved in this first issue are Luke’s old friend, and fellow Jedi, Kaine Starkiller and his son Annikin. If this sounds wildly different from what you know about Star Wars, it’s because it is quite different. We are also introduced to different takes on Darth Vader, the Emperor, Tarkin and Leia as well as characters like Bail Antillies who ended up having no role in the films at all.
It is hard to really see where the actual plot and story of this take on Star Wars will differ from the plot we are used to, because not much happens in this first issue. There is a lot of background given and the result is a somewhat boring issue. Far too much time is spent setting up the political aspect of this universe, and it often reminded me of the trade federation and Senate plots of the prequel trilogy. Around half of the issue is spent establishing that there is a New Galactic Empire and they have been successful in hunting down almost all of the Jedi, and are now trying to take over the Aquilaean System. There is very little attempt to balance the political story with character and fun. It is only by the end of the issue that we have an idea of what Skywalker’s and Annikin Starkiller’s relationship will be, but other than the established conflict we don’t have any idea where the story is headed. Despite this first issue being a bit on the dull side there are some things here that keep me hopeful for the rest of the series. One highlight of the issue was the opening scene with the Starkillers, and it just so happened that this was the issue’s lone action scene. If the action picks up, and we are treated to more scenes like this then I will be a happy reader. The other highlight for me was the joy in seeing familiar concepts, vehicles and characters presented completely different from what they ended up being. Picking out the similarities and differences of everything throughout the issue was half the fun for me. While it would have been easy to make every change a big reveal, Rinzler plays the concept straight, and the issue is stronger for it.
As of this first issue Mike Mayhew’s art is the selling point. The redesigns of the familiar concepts are beautiful, and made going through the issue with an eye to spot the differences from the main saga a complete joy. His rendition of a lightsaber duel in the opening action scene was my favorite part of the entire issue. The classic fantasy style of Mayhew’s art is a perfect fit for this long lost story, and it will be exciting to see what he has come up with for the rest of the series.
I’m not sure how many readers will be reading this series without any knowledge of the Star Wars Universe, but I am guessing that number is low. Taking this story on its own, and trying not to compare it to the original movie is hard, because making these comparisons ends up being one of the bright spots of the issue. By itself The Star Wars #1 is beautiful looking, slow, somewhat boring start to a Sci-Fi story. I am hoping that this series becomes more than just a showcase for Mike Mayhew and an exercise in redesign, but for now that is exactly what it is. It is easy to see why this was based off of a first draft of what would become the Star Wars we all know and love.