I remember the first time I watched Empire of Dreams, the 3-hour long documentary about the creation of the Star Wars original trilogy, the holy grail of nerdom and inspirer of all nerditudes. The documentary sheds light on the painful process of producing the trilogy including the setbacks, the struggle to get funding, the uncertainty that anyone gave a shit about space operas, and a 300-page monster screenplay that could not fit into one movie. Sprinkled into George Lucas’ original screenplay are stories and characters that didn’t make it into the finished films. The Star Wars celebrates George Lucas’ earliest draft of his science fiction masterpiece. Although some of the story elements remain (in a very radical fashion), it’s shocking how Lucas’ original vision differed from what we finally saw on that glorious premiere night back in 1977.
I’m going to preface my review of the comic book as a comic book by first mentioning how fun it is to have this much-coveted time capsule. Until now, Lucas’ original draft has been pretty much kept in the shadows, in a vault far, far away. To see a different version of this beloved story is a tasty treat. Any chance I get to experience Star Wars from a new angle or to revisit the beloved characters, I take it. Star Wars fans, this new series will satisfy your deepest fanboy desires (like a wet dream). Thanks to Dark Horse, fans have one more memento to hold close to their hearts.
[related article: The Star Wars #1 Preview Pages]
Unfortunately, as a comic book, the story is mediocre at best. The overall feel of the book might churn your stomach as you watch the tight-ass characters of The Star Wars talk like they’re in one big galactic polo match. There isn’t a sense of struggle as much as there is a need to discuss politics at the Emperor’s house. More than ever before, Star Wars is treated like a social commentary in the opening pages.
Luke Skywalker is actually a middle-aged general, leader of the forces of the planet Aquilae, the final Rebel stronghold against the New Empire. Believed to be dead, Skywalker is one of the last Jedi-Bendu warriors in the galaxy after most of the order was annihilated by the Knights of Sith/New Empire. Aquilae and the Empire, whose capital is Alderaan, are on the brink of war unless the Aquilaeans sign a treaty that will bring them under the rule of the Emperor (who sports a very fashionable Fu manchu moustache).
Other storylines include Leia going off to galactic college, a hipster Lord Vader (sans trademark helmet) who likes to contemplate murdering Jedi while staring out of viewports, an Aquilaean priest named Tarkin, and Jedi Kane Starkiller’s return to Aquilae after the death of his youngest son, Deak.
Starkiller is the most interesting member in this cast, which, for the most part, is made up of shells of what they would become for later generations of nerds. Although there’s a Vader in this version of Star Wars, Starkiller most closely resembles that evil villain we all know and love. He’s 3/4 machine under his synthetic skin, his head and right arm the only sign that he was ever human. In hopes that Skywalker might train his remaining son, Annikin, Starkiller brings the boy to Aquilae before the Sith have a chance to hunt him down. Skywalker isn’t too keen on the idea of training the boy and Starkiller loses his temper and rips the synthetic skin off his metal chest. Anger leads to hatred is what Master Yoda always said…Could this be an early sign of Starkiller’s eventual fall to the dark side?
The rest of the story is about as exciting as a Hutt triathlon. I can only hope that The Star Wars is able to deliver a unique experience, one that becomes as memorable as its predecessor.
The Star Wars #1Script: J.W. RinzlerArt: Mike MayhewColors: Rain BeredoLettering: Michael Heisler