The Star Wars: Oh-so familiar, yet oh-so very different


Based on the original rough-draft screenplay by George Lucas, The Star Wars, released by Dark Horse Comics, is a unique look at a storyline that never was. Before opening the book, readers are treated to cover art by Nick Runge (GhostBusters, Angel), which is true to the style of iconic Star Wars movie posters. The heroes are seemingly lined up in the center – a gruff, green alien, a Jedi Knight that looks almost eerily like a younger, buffer, but still equally grey/white Lucas, and a young blonde warrior, her gun trained in front of her. The poster also features early concepts of characters such as R2-D2 and C-3PO, a furry, but lizard-like Chewbacca, Darth Vader, the Death Star, the Emperor and Imperial destroyers. There is so much going on.

Perhaps that’s where this story failed. Outside of being an original draft, and inevitably subject to monumental change, what one can tell from the first half of this issue is that there are several prominent characters together at once. Don’t get me wrong – the universe of Star Wars, as any long-time fan knows, is vast and filled with a variety of characters. Yet so many, so fast, might be overwhelming for someone just reading. Still, as a fan of most Star Wars comics and extended universe writings (read: most, not all) the pacing is not that surprising.

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Without giving out too many spoilers, the general concept is the same: a long time ago, a galaxy far far away, Jedi, Sith and politics are involved in an epic sci-fi/western action. Here, though, you’ll find each side in mid-shift: the Jedi (called the Jedi-Bendu) are dying, but not extinct, the Sith are on the rise and far more dominant than their movie counterpart (in that they seemingly have conquered/blown up more planets and made fans out of the inhabitants of the remaining). A man on the run is camping on a hot planet with his two sons, all three skilled in the force. There’s an empire, starships, lightsabers, and other familiar objects, but at its core, this universe is very radically different.

It’s hard not to compare or seek out the differences between this universe and the one that made it on screen, but I urge readers to give it a read-through without thought. Even at its original concept, Lucas’ universe is highly advanced, but rough-and-tumble, and it wastes no time in delivering its first hard-hitting shocker. What happens within the first few pages of the story recalls the format of the movies – you’re visually introduced to a strange place you’ve never seen before, then just as you question what it is – BAM! Something crazy happens.

Fans of the series might really like this story. While it is choppy at times (in that characters seem to shift emotionally at the drop of a hat, all the time), it still stands as a well thought-out story with a variety of cast members, ranging broadly from the extremely likable to downright evil.

The art is also modeled after classic Star Wars comics; at times fully painted, yet others featuring harder lines in almost charcoal texture. The animation almost cues classic music in a reader’s head based on the situation, and for the most part, cognitive visual expression of each battle or conversation is very well done.

Combining George Lucas’ original concept, a script by J.W. Rinzler (Long-time Star Wars History writer), and art by Mike Mayhew (AVENGERS, Vampirella), the book rounds out to a very interesting read.

Grade: B

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