Comic Books & Graphic NovelsOpinionReviews

THE STAR WARS: So Close And Yet So Far, Far Away


  • Title: The Star Wars 
  • Script: J.W. Rinzler (based upon the work of George Lucas)
  • Art: Mike Mayhew
  • Colors: Rain Beredo
  • Cover Art: Nick Runge
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics 
  • Publication Date: August 13, 2014
  • Cover Price: 
    • Trade Paperbook collects issues #1 – #8 of The Star Wars for $19.99
    • Hardcover collects isssues #1 – #8 and issue #0 of The Star Wars for $39.99
    • The deluxe oversized boxed-set editions contains the entire saga – plus extras – in three deluxe, foil-stamped, hardcover volumes for $99.99
Doesn't Luke look a bit like George Lucas or current Mark Hamill?
Doesn’t Luke look a bit like George Lucas or current Mark Hamill?

One of my favorite type of stories are those which take characters within a well-known continuity, change things around and ask what would happen if things had gone a bit differently. DC comics calls them Elseworlds now but they used to call them imaginary stories (I guess so as to differentiate them from the ‘real’ stories). Marvel often published them in a book titled What If? and I often found them a lot of fun. Imagine if Kal-El had landed in the jungle and had grown up ala Tarzan, or what if Spider-Man had saved his Uncle Ben? Besides these tales we also have stories of alternate dimensions and time-lines where drastically different things occur. These kind of stories also occur frequently in the science fiction genre. What if the Enterprise crew were evil or Buffy had never come to Sunnydale and it was the entire plot of the show Sliders?

This guy looks like a Jedi Master!
This guy looks like a Jedi Master!

The Star Wars is an attempt to show a ‘what might have been’ version of the saga many of us have grown to know and love. Pieced together from notes and artwork and the original screenplay by George Lucas, this story shows us a very different version of what has become nearly sacred. Many of our favorite familiar elements are present in this story. There are Jedi and Sith, droids and Wookiees, space battles and duels with light sabers (called lazerswords). The biggest difference between this story and the one we know is in the nature of and relationship between the characters. Luke Skywalker is a general, apparently in his sixties. In fact, he looks much like Mark Hamill does now. He takes on Annikin Starkiller as a padawan learner and they work together to save Princess Leia from Darth Vader. In this story though, none of them are related. Oh, and Han Solo is a large green lizard guy.

Hey Anakin! You're supposed to be inside the ship!
Hey Annikin! You’re supposed to be inside the ship!

The amazing thing is that the book is still a great deal of fun. It is different enough that I’m not sure exactly what is going to happen next and doesn’t just feel like reading a comic book version of the movie. The creators of the book have done a great job of taking the familiar out and starting over writing an entirely new story. A few lines made it all the way through this screenplay and into the movie and these nods are a nice way to see that you are reading something familiar and new at the same time. As an example, there is an asteroid field scene but the ship flying through it looks like Leia’s diplomatic vessel from the beginning of A New Hope. The story has elements of Episodes 4, 5 and 6 as well as entirely new things, like Annikin’s father Kane Starkiller all mashed together and yet they feel a part of a natural story.

The artwork by Mayhew here is bold and serves the story incredibly well. The designs feel new but in many ways harken back to some of the original movie designs done for Lucas by Ralph McQuarrie, particularily the physical appearance of R2-D2 and C-3PO. The art does not quite pick up the dreamlike quality of McQuarrie but still works in telling the story.

The story here is not perfect. There are some slow parts that drag the story down and I was very disappointed in Princess Leia in this book. She is really just window dressing and not the incredibly powerful leader that we came to know in the movies. There are also a few too many characters and plot lines so that everything can get a bit confusing unless you are writing down every detail or just ignoring the details.

I can’t tell you if this story would have worked as a movie. I don’t know if The Star Wars would have been anything more than a blip on the cultural radar if this version had made it to theaters. I do know that if you love Star Wars, you might have fun reading this early version of the story and to see how much made it through and how much was changed. As a Star Wars fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the storytelling here and a chance to read an alternate version of a story that I have seen so many times. May the force of others be with you (as they say in this book)!




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