Sep 05 2013

Review: The Star Wars #1

The Star Wars #1 (Dark Horse)

For years, fans have been clamouring for the original unedited version of Star Wars. This comic may be more than they bargained for.

The Star Wars #1 (2013)

The Star Wars #1 (Dark Horse) cover

WriterJ.W. Rinzler

Artists: Mike Mayhew

PublisherDark Horse

Rating: 8/10

More info

It is difficult to imagine the pop-culture landscape without Star Wars at the heart of it, so ubiquitous and accepted is its eternal existence. When writer/director George Lucas first decided to tinker with the effects on the original trilogy back in 1997, the perceived sacrilege was compounded over the years by repeated changes and prequels that were closer to parody or mockery than the classics that spawned them. The level of fan outrage can be attributed to a point where they ceased to be the property of Lucas, and became “our” Star Wars. Dark Horse’s The Star Wars takes us back even further to a time when it still belonged entirely in the head of one man.

Based on the original rough draft of the films by George Lucas, what is most surprising about this take is that nobody has done it before. Certainly elements of this version of the story have made it into the expanded universe, an area we fully admit to not being remotely au fait with the non-film versions of the story. In this one, Kane Starkiller is one of the last Jedi-Bendu warriors after they were all eliminated by the Knights of Sith/New Empire, and lives with his two sons Annikin and Deak. When the latter is killed by enemy forces, Kane takes his surviving son to Aquilae to meet middle-aged Jedi general Luke Skywalker, so he can instruct Annikin in the ways of the Jedi.

Despite being a trip down memory lane, The Star Wars feels like something completely new in the Star Wars cannon. Far more than simply fan-fiction, series writer J.W. Rinzler has Star Wars stripped down to its parts and built back up again, although the opposite is actually the case. Characters are familiar, but not so much that this is a simple retread with new clothes on. Some of the strengths and weaknesses are some in the same, with the hand of Lucas very much felt in here, albeit a Lucas who had not already tired of his creation. Being largely an exposition issue, it has some of the excitement of the tax-heavy opening scrawl of The Phantom Menace, and there’s at least one “Yippee!” elicited from a young character. Thankfully, that character is rapidly dispatched and nary an antiquated childhood expression can be heard again. That’s just wizard.

The Star Wars #1 (Dark Horse)

Artist Mike Mayhew tips his hat to the original concept art of Ralph McQuarrie, but also sets the template for this ‘elseworlds’ Star Wars. The designs are very much in the vein of the proto-Jedi that McQuarrie designed, but the world is a mixture of old and new Star Wars, with Mayhew putting his own stamp on the mix. Princess Leia, in a subplot where she heads off to ‘college’, is perhaps the only character that is almost identical to her cinematic counterpart. The world is a mixture of or old and new Star Wars, maintaining the organic feel of the original films and the building designs of some of the later prequels.The older Skywalker looks strikingly like George Lucas, so we can only imagine that he also sounds like Kermit the Frog when speaking.

This is just the first issue of an extended remix of Star Wars, so it is difficult to fully form an opinion based on a partial script. However, The Star Wars is likely to please fans looking for something new that is wholly within the spirit of the original movie, and not indebted to the masses of extended universe canon that has build up in novels, animation and comic books over the last four decades. An exciting prospect for the next eight months and beyond, The Star Wars is a terrific glimpse at what might have been.

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