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Star Wars #1 (Marvel) – Alternative Comics Beat

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Alt Beat

By Ken Porter 

 

Star Wars #1

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: John Cassaday

Publisher: Marvel

 

Between a Hope and the Empire

Star Wars is a film series I’ve watched so many times that it’s a part of my DNA. Everyone has their favorite film (mine’s The Empire Strikes Back), but even bigger than the movies are the expanded universe. These stories span video games, novels, and comics that have captured our imagination for decades. While Dark Horse Comics has held the license for Star Wars for years, Marvel now has the property again and are doing their own narrative between Episode IV and Episode V.

So how is it?

It’s like discovering an old classic you never knew existed.

 

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Not just blaster fodder

One of the challenges that Aaron and Cassaday had when going into this series was to tread new ground that the movies or the Dark Horse comics hadn’t done before. While Dark Horse did have it’s own series set in the same time frame written by Brian Wood and drawn by Chris D’Anda, this series by Marvel goes in a completely different direction in terms of setting and tone. Both series are equally good for different reasons, but we’ll focus on the Marvel series for now.

Aaron writes Luke, Leia, Han, and the Imperials as if their dialogue was taken from audio transcripts of the movies. Everyone feels the way they should, and each character gets a cool moment to shine.

One moment in particular is with Luke and his lightsaber, but I won’t spoil it for anyone that hasn’t read the issue yet.

 

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Why it’s a great alternative

Star Wars is a franchise that can be explored in just about any medium. The comics are a place where you can go and spend time with some of your favorite characters who don’t wear spandex, capes, or domino masks. It’s a great alternative for someone who wants to read about characters they love but don’t have anything to do with the DC or Marvel Universe.

Who would like Marvel’s Star Wars?

I’m hesitant to say everyone, just because of the reach that Star Wars has with fans, but I will say people who enjoy the original trilogy will like this the most. If you enjoyed the Dark Horse run on Star Wars then it’s worth giving Marvel’s new take a try. Although someone very famous once said “do or do not, there is no try.”

Ken Porter also writes comic books including “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of last year’s Top Cow Talent Search contest and was recently published in “Artifacts” #33.

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Review: Star Wars #2

Star Wars, from Dark Horse Comics, continues its bridging story between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” by assembling a team of black-ops X-Wing pilots to sniff out an imperial mole in the rebellion. Led by Leia Organa, Wedge Antilles, and Luke Skywalker, the team will have to live off the grid in order to finally secure a new base to fight against the Emperor.

Brian Wood writes the kind of Star Wars that you remember from your childhood. Not only does it capture the magic of the original three films, it also gives us a lot more starfighter battles with some of our favorite characters. The focus on Wedge and Luke’s relationship, as well as Leia’s struggle to accept the destruction of her home planet, fit perfectly with the characters story arcs at this point in the narrative. The prequels made many fans think that filling in the blanks was a bad idea, but Wood proves that it can be done as long as you focus on characters, not plot points.

The artwork by Carlos D’Anda really comes through in this issue. Dogfight scenes with the X-Wings and Tie Fighters really get the ion engines running on the page. It’s also important to note that D’Anda puts his own spin on the character designs. They clearly resemble the characters that fans know and love, but they’re not carbon copies of the actors. It was a stylistic choice that really works for this book, because it lets the characters speak for themselves instead of being avatars for the films.

Another interesting aspect of this series is the middle management aspect of the imperial infrastructure. Colonel Bircher, Darth Vader’s replacement for the Devastator Star Destroyer, has high expectations for the storm troopers and other imperial officers. It’s a concept that wasn’t elaborated on the film, but it’s a welcome and humorous addition to the franchise.

If you love the original Star Wars trilogy and want to relive those moments with a brand new story, Wood and D’Anda’s take will leave you with that nostalgic feeling.

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Review: Star Wars #1 (Brian Wood)

Dark Horse Comics and writer Brian Wood have teamed up to return comic book readers to the timeframe of the original Star Wars Trilogy with Star Wars #1. This debut issue picks up where the end of “A New Hope” leaves off and finds Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles, and Leia Organa searching for a new base of operations for the rebellion. The situation turns dire, and a dark mystery might threaten the stability of the alliance.

The story of this first issue is very surprising. It’s not a huge, grandiose space opera tale, but a small story about Luke and Leia trying to determine where their lives are going. Luke wants to honor those who have fallen, while Leia needs to keep moving forward to provide stability for the rebellion. On the other side of the force, the imperials are trying to rebuild after the destruction of the Death Star.

The writing of this issue was really on target with the original Star Wars universe. It was the first time I’ve read something new from the franchise and actually felt like a kid again, watching Star Wars on VHS over and over. The characterizations of Luke, Leia, Wedge, Han, and of course Chewbacca are all faithful to the source material, but have Wood’s own take wrapped around them.

The artwork by Carols D’Anda was really strong for the most of the story. I liked his cartooning style on the X-Wing starfighters and each rendition of popular characters was inspired by the actors, but not completely dependent on them. The only design problem that I could pick out was with Darth Vader. There were a few panels where he was a bit too bulky or muscle bound, and his helmet was portrayed a little too aggressive. It sounds redundant for a character like Darth Vader, but for me it just wasn’t working all the time. But I still enjoyed the issue as a whole and I think that D’Anda and Wood make a good team.

Star Wars has been getting a lot of press since Disney acquired the rights and claimed they were going ahead with another film. I hope that they take a few notes from Wood’s playbook and stick to smaller stories about the characters, rather than overpowering battles with Jedi and robots.

This comic is worth a buy for any fan of Star Wars or any fan of Wood’s. Dark Horse published a comic titled Star Wars #1 and was able to rise to the occasion. The last panel has me intrigued enough to buy another issue, and this could be the start to a seminal run.

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