Review: Star Wars #1

As always, reviewing a single comic or TV episode is like judging a book on one random chapter. The beauty behind episodic storytelling is the opportunity to weave a long, complex tale amongst the one-and-done aspects of the creator’s arc. Also to see characters change and evolve in ways that shorter format entertainment can’t portray, making judgment on a single “chapter” almost useless. That being said, while this is issue number one, it is in no way the beginning of the story.

A long time ago at a publisher not so far away…

Once upon a time, Marvel Comics published books based on a little known film franchise created by that Lucas fella. We’ll call that time BDH (Before Dark Horse). From 1977 to 1986 said publisher maintained the rights until moving on to other, more heroic endeavors. In 1991 a smaller and far less established imprint – Dark Horse Comics – signs up to be the new home for force wielding monks and wayward rebels alike. Let’s call that DDH time (During Dark Horse). But now with the corporate giant that is Disney having absorbed both Marvel and Lucas Films – completing the circle of commerce – we see Dark Horse stripped of its cornerstone title and Marvel enacting a homecoming of sorts. Putting us at the dawn of DRW time (Disney Rules the World).

What does that mean for the twenty-four years of DDH mythology? Nothing. Because according to Marvel, those stories never happened, at least not in their Star Wars universe. In the looming shadow of Episode VII, Marvel’s new light on the series takes us to the time between episodes IV & V, focusing on the core group of Han, Luke, Leia, your favorite seven-foot fur ball and the droids you were more than likely looking for.

A more important question is what does that mean for you the Star Wars fan?

 

Preview pages c/o Entertainment Weekly

Scoundrels and Wookies and Jedi, oh my!

Marvel’s repatriation of the series may dismiss decades of intricate, interesting stories, but it also offers a new generation of fans a concise, well groomed universe to wrap your head around. The six films, the Clone Wars televisions series, the new Rebels TV show and the comics published by Marvel are all you have to worry about if continuity is your thing. It might not be a clean slate, but it’s a far less convoluted one.

Helming this new entry point is two of Marvel’s veteran, awarding winning best in writer Jason Aaron and artist John Cassaday. Aaron opens his contribution to the space opera with a risky mission to sabotage a weapons plant. A mission with far more danger than planning, offering up classic Star Wars tropes for seasoned fans to reminisce over. Absolutely nothing in this opening issue’s story is new. The botched plan, the then botched plan B followed by hints of a showdown that won’t happen…yet.  As a fan you’ll read this book knowing what’s going to happen next and maybe even be able to guess the dialogue before you read it. But this is one of those rare occasions where that is a good thing.

The story, dialogue and character choices don’t feel regurgitated and recycled, they feel accurate and authentic. Things happen in a familiar way because you’re familiar with the characters. And their actions aren’t repetitive, they’re realistic to their nature. The timeline placement of the story – which we’ve seen before – also makes for easy access to newly anointed wielders of the force. All you need is to have seen Episode IV: A New Hope and you’re all caught up. Aaron’s thoughtful handling of this beloved franchise is clear throughout, as he takes the readers hand and walks them down memory lane while setting the hooks to keep you waiting for the next issue.

Making Jason’s job easy seems to be John Cassaday’s job. The cinematic panel layouts resemble screen shots from a Hollywood blockbuster rather than your Sunday funnies. His penciled interpretations of the film’s actors, environments and creatures are spot on. Never abandoning dynamic and interesting for photo-realistic depictions, it never doesn’t look like the rebels you grew up with. Keeping with the background – both locations and aliens – being as much a character as Luke or Han, John masterfully gives each page loads of familiar faces and a flavor only found far, far away.

Not to be forgotten is the wonderfully appropriate work by colorist Laura Martin. Often the unsung heroes behind a beautiful comic book, the colorist has to breathe life into the lines set by the artist and Laura holds her own making an A-lister like Cassaday look even better, and helping the book itself look and feel like Star Wars.

Do’s

  • Looks like Star Wars
  • Sounds like Star Wars
  • And most importantly, if feels like Star Wars

Don’ts

  • Story’s a little generic

Review: Star Wars #1 Reviewed byMichael Pellegrini on .

In Closing:

Star Wars #1 does just about everything right, from the look and feel to the tone and characterization. Leia’s not your average princess, Luke’s young and learning and Han’s, well, Han (he shot first). The creators obviously care about the work and like the rest of us, grew up wanting to make the Kessel run in under 12 parsecs. Now despite my review being more a history lesson than a creative critique, you don’t need much more information than provided to take the leap (insert dark side reference here) and give this book a read. Unless you buy into most of the internet noise about corporate branding and Disney being the evil empire wanting only to take your money. All that might be true, but the people making the books want them to be good, and they are responsible for those Avengers movies, aren’t they?
Rating: 4.75

Star Wars: Issue #1

95%
95% Must Read!

In Closing:

Star Wars #1 does just about everything right, from the look and feel to the tone and characterization. Leia’s not your average princess, Luke’s young and learning and Han’s, well, Han (he shot first). The creators obviously care about the work and like the rest of us, grew up wanting to make the Kessel run in under 12 parsecs. Now despite my review being more a history lesson than a creative critique, you don’t need much more information than provided to take the leap (insert dark side reference here) and give this book a read. Unless you buy into most of the internet noise about corporate branding and Disney being the evil empire wanting only to take your money. All that might be true, but the people making the books want them to be good, and they are responsible for those Avengers movies, aren’t they?

User Rating:

90%
(1 votes)

Star Wars #1 is available at your local comic shop or online now.

About The Author

Michael Pellegrini

Michael is a classic example of a child trapped in an adult’s body – and I use the word “adult” very, very loosely. With interests ranging from comic books and movies to theater and fine art, Mike has followed humble journalistic beginnings that have led to interviews, reviews, news write-ups and opinion – though it’s ever changing – pieces covering those same interests. All of that brings us here, to a site where a community of like-minded geeks can inform the rest of the world on the topics we adore.

And on the personal side of things, Michael squeezes time for his lovely wife and house full of dogs between all the comic reading and video game playing.

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