Epic, tragic, and full of action and intrigue, The Star Wars is an interesting glimpse at what one of the most beloved sagas in the universe could have been.
First, an introduction: The Star Wars is the highly-anticipated comic book adaptation of the first draft of George Lucas’s screenplay for what would go on to become Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. This version of the story is drastically different, though elements will feel familiar at time. Readers would do well to read it as if it was a completely different story, rather than read this issue with the original story as a framework with the purpose of finding the variations.
Just by reading the recap page, readers know that these good guys and bad guys will be less clearly defined than in the movies. The story is truly more about a rebellion and the different factions in that rebellion than good versus evil. The Jedi were once the greatest warriors in the galaxy while the Sith are their rivals, who have since usurped the Jedi’s positions. This can be seen throughout the story as well. The old regime and the new that replaced it are no longer called the Republic and the Empire, but the Empire and the New Empire. The protagonists don’t work out of rinky-dink hangars, but instead meet in palaces on beautiful worlds.
With this change, the story takes on a different, darker tone. Instead of a slow introduction of the story’s Jedi as a young, naïve moisture farmer and his unassuming senior friend, the Jedi in this story are warriors forever living in fear of Sith on a hostile world. There’s tragic death and fighting right in the beginning, which takes away a lot of the innocence of the characters. On the flip side, this speeds up the pacing of the story considerably. The reader gets the sense that there are a lot of pressing dangers and that our protagonists are on the losing side. This certainly raises the excitement.
Though I can’t speak for what the rest of the series will wind up becoming, I can say that the intrigue and excitement of this story comes at the cost of the original’s humor and heart. The story’s comic relief, C-3PO and R2-D2, are very noticeably absent from this issue (though they make an appearance on the cover). The story focuses mostly on the adult soldiers within the rebellion rather than on the very relatable Luke, Leia, and Han, so we don’t get to grow with them or win with them. Reading this first issue was not difficult by any means. J.W. Rinzler’s dynamic dialogue and Mike Mayhew’s captivating art keep the reader eager to turn the page and consume more story, but our emotions don’t rise and fall like they did in A New Hope. In this way the story is much more like the science fiction of its time—the Flash Gordons and the like—and not the genre-changing Star Wars that came to be.
Still, this is only the first issue in an eight-issue arc, and serves to set up the story quite nicely. Star Wars fans will absolutely get a kick out of seeing what could have been, while people who have never seen the original series will still enjoy an interesting story. I look forward to seeing what Dark Horse has in store for us next.
J.W. Rinzler (W), Mike Mayhew (A), Rain Beredo (C) • Dark Horse, $3.99, September 4, 2013.