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The Star Wars Issue #1 Review

6 min read

The Star Wars Issue 1
The Star Wars Issue 1
If ever there was a case of What If….

Creative Team:
Writer: J.W. Rinzler
Artist: Mike Mayhew

What They Say:
Before Star Wars, there was The Star Wars! This is the authorized adaptation of George Lucas’s rough-draft screenplay of what would eventually become a motion picture that would change the world.

Annikin Starkiller is the hero . . . Luke Skywalker is a wizened Jedi general . . . Han Solo is a big green alien . . . and the Sith . . . Well, the Sith are still the bad guys. High adventure and derring-do from longer ago, in a galaxy even further away!

The Review:
Being a part of the original Star Wars generation, about eight years old when I saw the first movie in theaters for what was to be many, many times over the years, Star Wars is one of those critical pieces to who I was and who I became like so many others of my generation. While I grew up on the movies, the books and the comics – and a huge amount of the toys as well – I also was exposed to the big “what if” question early on when some of the art plates by Ralph MacQuarrie were released in gorgeous collections showing some of the concept designs based on what George Lucas had come up with. As anyone who follows film closely, especially from the developmental phase, you know how things change in so many ways and often more so when it comes to worlds and stories from pure imagination. While those art plates showed what if, they’re more like a halfway mark between the original first rough draft Lucas created and the end product. We’ve seen the results of the mid stage and the final produce. The Star Wars comic series shows us what it originally could have been if it wasn’t rewritten, refined and reworked so many times over since its original completion in 1974.

The first of eight issues, getting into The Star Wars is definitely a challenge if you’re as immersed as I am – and many people are far more so than I. The familiarity of names, locations and settings in general are so very different yet so eerily familiar that it can be jarring at first until you’re really able to settle into it, which starts to come together towards the end of this first issue. The book sets some solid back story, explaining to us in the first page crawl about how the Jedi-Bendu have protected the galaxy for a hundred thousand years until the Great Rebellion hit and the Empire that they protected were overthrown by the New Mpire which uses a rival group known as the Knights of the Sith to do their fighting. The Jedi-Bendu are few at this point and most are just relegated to myth and fantasy, but some of the strongest survive and are in hiding while training and teaching the next generation.

Such is our initial exposure, difficult to process in some ways, and it shifts into bringing us to a young man named Annikin Starkiller, who has been trained by his father along with his much younger brother, Deak. Starkiller has raised Annikin well, but you can see the brashness, the confidence and how it leads to a tragedy for the family that forces his father to take to the planet Aquilae where he can meet with the famed and fabled old friend, General Luke Skywalker. It’s here that Skywalker is working to create a resistance to what the New Empire is up to, dealing with trade federation types who don’t see the real threat that’s coming, and attempting to cope with it. The arrival of his old friends brings some welcome feelings to the surface, but there’s some interesting and amusing deeper tragedies just under the surface – figuratively and literally, that reinforces just how alone so many of the Jedi-Bendu became over the years and the need to survive in order to restore order and stop the New Empire.

While all of this plays out, we do get to see some interesting elements from within this New Empire as Governor Hoedaack is working with Darth Vader in order to deal with what remains of the Jedi-Bendu. There are plans afoot, pushes to further what the Governor wants when it comes to control and various little ploys and plans that you can see the seeds of when it comes to the way an empire truly conquers, not so much by force but by manipulation, fear and sense of powerful presence. The dialogue is a little stilted in some ways, but it has such an intriguing layer about it that you really want it all laid out in a clearer and more direct fashion, some sort of historical timeline to flesh it out and push away the trappings of what the real final product turned out to be.

The story moves as well as it can here with what it has to accomplish with J.W. Rinzler at the helm. Mike Mayhew’s art is something that is definitely appealing and fits in to what Dark Horse has often done with various Star Wars properties in giving it more of a painted look. So much of the problem is that of the reader in that disassociating what we know and accepting what we see is difficult, but it’s also part of the thrill. The reveal of what’s under Starkiller’s chest is great. I love the real sense of power and intensity that this Darth Vader has while still being true to what we know. He has such a small role here that leaves me wanting more. Deak is the spitting image of a young Luke and Annakin that it’s hard to place Annikin here, but it really does remind me of the visual I had in my mind as a young by thinking about Luke Skywalker’s father that was the great pilot that Obi-wan talked about. You can see those threads so clearly that you want to tug on them. Similarly, the nods towards Antilles with his name change, the way that Alderaan was initially the seat of the Empire and how Leia is thrown into the mix in a very different way while being the most unchanged in terms of visuals. There are so many wonderful little nuggets to latch onto here that you want so much more.

In Summary:
For most readers like myself, there’s going to be a huge schism in trying to read through what’s here because so much of what you know really isn’t here. It’s a complete reworking from what originally was to what we grew up with that it can be hard to separate and take it at face value, at least for the first or second read. The Star Wars even in its first issue merits several readings just to see what you might have missed, the nuance of the changes from this to what really was made and more. Lucas created something powerful with his original film and seeing the origins of it, the way it started and comparing to what it became is endlessly fascinating. Getting a chance to really experience what it originally was really is a treat. And I’ll admit, just below the surface, there’s a part of me that wishes that this experience, this draft, really could be made into a feature just to show what could have been. If there’s ever a franchise that could pull it off, this is the one. But if it never happens, getting this presentation of it is definitely worth it.

Grade: B+

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