Star Wars 1 CoverSTAR WARS 1

Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Carlos D’Anda
Publisher: Dark Horse
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)

One year and counting – the timer for when the black mouse slays the dark horse’s rights to the empire that Lucas built has begun. For as much as I love the original STAR WARS trilogy (episodes IV, V, VI), like most Gen Xers I feel an equal disdain for all that came after. Thus, my comic experiences with the STAR WARS universe have been extremely limited. Old Republics, New Republics and anything where I can see Anakin’s face versus his dark respirator are simply not for me. I don’t fault those that like these expansion, I applaud your 30,000 leagues deep exploration of a universe you love (God knows I live in these deep bowls of nerdom with the spandex set), and I can listen to those passionate specifics of fandom for hours  – simply not me.

So, you can imagine my elation when I walked into the comic shop last Wednesday to see a STAR WARS cover with the holy quintet of Luke, Leia, Han and Darth adorning it in traditional old movie poster style.  “Optimous you dumb dick, there have been other comic series focusing on the original series.” Touché dear reader, but in many instances the number count was impenetrable for my OCD nature of imbibing a complete series. That or they may have been in the same time period as the original movies, but focused on characters you saw on screen for 3 seconds. Being in the position I’m in, I’ve been privy to all of the Dark Horse press releases about this book that promised the classic characters filling in the gaps left wide-open between or during the original 3 movies.

In the opening pages I truly thought Wood had lost his mind as we watch Luke, Leia and Wedge scouring the universe to find a safe-haven for the Rebel Alliance to set-up shop. A few more well-placed queues, like mentioning the fresh wound of the destruction of Alderan, allowed me to piece together we are post New Hope, but pre Empire. Could finding a new base really be a compelling story? Ludicrous.  Once I let fandom subside though, and actually started reading the interchange between Luke and Leia via their X-Wing Comm System, I realized exactly what Wood is trying to accomplish with this series.

This STAR WARS is not just about trying to find a new base. This series is about humanizing the primary characters of STAR WARS in a way I hadn’t seen before. How do they truly deal with the future of the galaxy weighing upon their shoulders?  “Didn’t Lucas do that already,” you might be asking. Sure as hell not like this. I have a fondness for the man’s universe building skills and big ideas, but if the prequels taught us one thing it’s that Lucas can’t write fucking dialog to save his life. Also, when left to run rampant with his gobs of money he creates wafer thin characters enveloped in hollow moments. The thing that made the original trilogy stand above the new three was the fact Lucas couldn’t go unchecked back in those days.

Wood, given his name, ironically succeeds in breathing new life into creation that are wooden in Lucas’ hands by comparison.  Again, I truly do love the original trilogy, but reading this STAR WARS was like meeting an old friend again after they had matured over time. You will know these people upon first seeing and hearing them, but you will know them 10 times better than you did before at the close of the issue. Luke is a little more than whiny and agog, Han seems to have a deeper motivation in life than just money, Vader is handed is ass for losing the Death Star and truly hanging his big black hood in shame for the loss.

As the issue progresses this becomes more Leia’s bag than Luke or Han’s. After the scouting mission with Wedge and Luke goes bust because someone from within the Alliance tipped off the Empire, Leia is given carte blanche to form a black ops team to keep looking for what we all know will be Hoth.

D’Anda draws some gorgeous star ships in this with meticulous detail right down to open ports for small ships to fly into. The first page when the Star Destroyer jumps in on Luke, Leia and Wedge was absolutely draw dropping.  I’ve always been of two minds with properties that use the visage of real-life people.  In the SERENITY/FIREFLY comics it freaked me the fuck out how eerily familiar they looked because there was a lifelessness to them at the same time. Like seeing your favorite actor frozen in carbonite. With STAR WARS though, D’Anda is able to capture their faces while still making them free and their own entities apart from Carrie, Mark and Harrison. It’s a unique skill to be sure, that all licensed property artists should study.

There’s really nothing more to say than this may be my first STAR WARS comic, but it assuredly won’t be my last.