Since the day I heard about this from Dark Horse early in May of this year, I can say I was on the edge of my seat waiting to read the adaptation of Lucas’ 1974 script—yes, the original script that, as you’ve probably heard in the same hyped-up speech, is very different from the Star Wars we know. In other words, I mean exactly to spare you from the sort of “It’s not the Star Wars you know!” rhetoric (either in the form of complaint or praise, because what good would that do?).
That said, I do have to brag shortly that I once had a blog, a very short-lived blog that I got rid of when I got a gig writing for Graphic Policy. It was the Star Wars Comic Review blog, and it was *shockingly* about Star Wars comics, largely because I love SW and because my first comics and the reason I got into comics were/was SW. I heard the The Star Wars announcement immediately through Newsarama.com and was the second of the dozens of comics blogs and websites I follow to write about this incredible and historic event for SW and comics nerds. So, I guess you could say I’m a big deal…
The Star Wars #1 is brought to us by the incredible archival work of J.W. Rinzler, an author and editor for Lucasfilm Licensing, and a guy who’s gone through a lot of hard work to bring an archival history of SW in various books. The art for TSW #1 (we’ll go with that acronym so I can stop press ctrl+i) was done by Mike Mayhew, who has actually a well-rounded and diverse dossier.
Newsarama recently posted a link to some hype-up-the-readers information about TSW #1 with a caption “THE STAR WARS – great idea or better left in George Lucas’ memory?” To them I say, “This sort of rhetoric is really, really silly and not worthy of news. After all, the damn piece of art exists. Like it, or don’t, but why debate whether it should exist?” So, let’s delve into this bad-boy and take it as-is, since you can’t really take a major comic that rewrites the Star Wars experience with anything but detached observationalism lest you risk being the douche that says “But this isn’t Star Wars the way I like it in this one single iteration that can never be reduplicated.” Because if you’re that person, stay the hell away from comics! Still, some reference to the original is required to make sense of this cultural-icon-remade.
The father-son drama that is obscured in all but Return of the Jedi becomes immediately apparent in TSW, but it is a comforting drama that sidesteps whiny teenagers and patricide (for now?). The Emperor is as commanding and imperious a leader as never seen in the SW universe, and in fact the allusion to WWII is more obvious in the Rinzler/early Lucas version than the slight undertones in the Original Trilogy. The political situation, however, is not as easy to pick apart as SW; TSW is a more complex beast, where the sides of good and evil don’t seem easily chosen one over the other.
There are even references to Dune in the form of a guild of spacers (frigates, albeit), and the historical weight of Roman historical struggles seems to loom heavily in TSW, as does the admixture of Japanese warrior culture. What arises, then, in the universe of The Star Wars is a Japonic-Romanic political war story that stands well as a narrative on its own. In fact, while the SW legacy and namesake may be the sales pitch, The Star Wars is fascinating on its own, as complex as Dune and as fraught with moral ambiguity over good-and-evil as Return of the Jedi.
What’s more, TSW combines all that is great about the Original Trilogy and the Prequel Trilogy, a synchronous blend that allows the historically minded to see the bits and pieces of Lucas’ mind that led him to decision made 3 to 20 years later as he (and many, many others were) was making the SW film saga. Also, it would appear that in addition to his Japanese and Roman fetish, Lucas had a major crush on Dutch words and names (how many time have I heard, “Uh, ‘vader’ means father in like German or something, so duh Vader was Luke’s dad”). Go figure!
To make note of the art, which is fantastically done and quite appropriate to the project at hand: Mayhew’s art is populated a-plenty with visual references for the SW aficionado, from the first page to the last you get a slight glimpse of the “SW you know” as though it is the vestige of Ancient Rome in modern, metropolitan Roma.
In the end, what can still be said about The Star Wars as a new saga will have to wait, but I know that Rinzler, Mayhew, and the whole Dark Horse team involved have taken a modern American sci-fi legacy and used the historian’s craft and some creative interpretation to fashion on a new legacy worthy of Star Wars’ mantle of honor, yet uniquely its own monolithic work of fictional pomp and grandeur. The Star Wars #1 is, in short, the beginning of an unfinished vision of Star Wars redefined and perfected with all the insight of nearly 40 years of one of the most successful fictional franchises.
“May the Force of Others Be with You All.”
Story: J.W. Rinzler Art: Mike Mayhew
Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review