Number one issues are rarely as auspicious as ones that bear a name as big as ‘Star Wars’. No subtitle or prequel stuff here- Dark Horse Comics’ newest Star Wars #1 is pure Original Trilogy fun.
It’s been a while since I’ve read anything that took place within the time frame of George Lucas’ first three sci-fi epics. I think the last time may have been the first monster expansion of the mythos that I can clearly remember- Shadows of the Empire.
Aside from that though, everything else I’ve read that’s been released has been post or pre trilogy. Honestly, a good deal of it has been very solid, with a few notable books adding in some really awesome new lore to the ‘used universe’. To say that I very much welcome a return to the classics though, would be accurate.
Dark Horse Comics has produced some gems over the years for Star Wars fans, but perhaps nothing as ‘big’ as Star Wars by Brian Wood (Conan, The Massive) and Carlos D’Anda (Batman: Arkham City). The publisher calls the book “Star Wars as you remember it” and that statement is, fantastically, 100% on the money. It’s definitely ‘as I remember it’ from when I was a kid, but it’s ‘all new, all different’ as well.
Star Wars #1 kicks off just after the first Death Star has been destroyed by the fledgling Rebellion. Rebel forces are on the run from basically the entire galaxy and are in search of a new home. With all the heat brought down on them since their big (and extremely symbolic) victory, there are no star systems independent or otherwise who are willing to give them the sanctuary they so desperately seek.
And that’s one of the things that I liked most about the book right there and in a nutshell- it fleshes out the storyline of the movies. Without giving too much away, Star Wars seems like it’s destined to plug some very big holes in the classic timeline. Ever wonder what it’d be like for the Alliance after the Death Star went ‘boom’? How about what the fallout was for Darth Vader’s massive failure to protect that battle station? Read this, and you’ll get at least some of those answers right in the first issue.
I also love the character choices that Wood has made here. The branching tale focuses on Leia, Luke, and Wedge (!) on one side- with Han and Chewbacca on the other. Intertwined with each is a tremendous amount of referenced and glimpsed story points, both from the trilogy and some new material as well.
Don’t worry though, you’ll definitely recognize all the major (and minor) players. That’s mainly thanks to the excellent pencils of D’Anda. If you know his work from the likes of Arkham City, then you have a good idea of what to expect to see in Star Wars. His work here is big, bold, and translates the original screen visuals to the printed page as flawlessly as I’ve seen.
D’Anda’s character work is terrific, but so is the detailing and design of the iconic Star Wars ships and fighters. The X-Wings are really sharply drawn and the Star Destroyer is every bit the awesome sight from the first few moments of Episode IV.
Highlighting the pencils is a fantastic color job by Gabe Eltaeb. I really appreciate the flourishes of bright color that shine from the belly of the Imperial capital ship and the light glinting off of Vader’s armor. I think of good color work in comics as being akin to special effects in a movie. It adds a lot, and in the case of something like Star Wars- it’s indispensable.
As a big fan of the classic Star Wars trilogy (admission!), I ate this book up.
It’s gloriously done with tons of nods to longtime fans. It also expands the original fiction without tramping on what’s already been established as lore- something that I feel the relatively recent prequel trilogy could have done better.
Wood and D’Anda clearly have a firm grasp of the universe in which they’ve delved as well. They both just seem to ‘get it’, as the look and feel of the story that’s unfolding just oozes Star Wars. I honestly feel pretty comfortable saying that almost any fan of the films (or the universe for that matter) that Lucas built will lap Dark Horse’s Star Wars up… and that’s saying something.
Do yourself a favor and give it a shot, I doubt you’ll be sorry.