Begin humming John Williams…now!
There's a new Star Wars series on the shelf. The big deal? This one is supposedly based off of the "original rough-draft screenplay" by the big man himself. I'm going to preface my review by saying I am going to cover the book fully believing the sales pitch, thus not spending much time debating the blaring references to the prequels and the issues with legitimacy these could cause with a more cynical mind. Since fear leads to the Dark Side, and the Dark Side leads to people creating Jar Jar Binks, lets press on without fear of a Lucas Film scheme and just enjoy some new Star Wars. The book opens with crawl, of sorts, setting up the world. Basically, there is a big rebellion, cleverly titled The Great Rebellion, between the Old Empire and the New Empire with the "Jedi-Bendu" as the real casualties. The "Knights of the Sith" have allied themselves with the New Empire and have been hunting the Jedi-Bendu.
The story begins on the Fourth Moon of Utapau which I can only guess was the way Lucas had his Scrabble tiles arranged when brainstorming Sci-Fi planet names. Watch the vowels, George. Living on the moon of extra vowels we meet Kane Starkiller, Jedi-Bendu warrior, father to Deak and Annikin, and owner of the last Rob Liefeld 90's helmet.
Starkiller is in the middle of a training session with Deak when a ship lands nearby. The trio mounts a stealth op that runs awry when the pilot is revealed to be a red light saber wielding Sith! Annikin quickly draws his good guy red… apparently all light sabers are now red which means we'll have to leave the discerning of Sith lords from Jedi to physical disfigurement and a muted wardrobe pallet. Starkiller, who had gone to scout ahead, leaps heroically into the fray and bisects the Sith Darth Maul style, but not before the villain can strike down Deak. After a quick funeral pyre, I think the ability to quickly erect a funeral pyre is a requirement to being an action hero, Annikin and Starkiller take to the stars.
In another part of the galaxy that's far far away we get star destroyer galore and a look at the emperor. This is where the main flaw of the issue, and premise, come forward. These pages are slow and the dialogue is a bit bloated. These things are understandable when an author is working on a rough draft. This is because you don't usually publish a rough draft for mass audiences. While I think the idea is fun, I'll assume they tried to keep the work as authentic as possible. While I think this is valiant the story suffers for it.
During a Hitler-esq speech on Alderann by the emperor we learn that the Jedi-Bendu have become the villains around which the planet has been rallied. One ominous villain meeting in a secret room later and we get the first of two big reveals, Vader. Physically scarred and wearing dark colors, at least the Sith are consistent, this Darth Vader is a careful balance of Michael Fassbender and Kingdom Come Superman. He stands with two conniving sirs known as Governor Hoedaack and Vantos Coll and discusses the possibility of Jedi still existing. When Vader attempts to dismiss the claims, Vantos Coll reveals he had, in fact, witnessed a "General Skywalker" leading a rebellion. A few ellipses and a change of scene later and the second great reveal unfolds; Luke Skywalker has a Rob Liefeld helmet too.
He's also considerably older and bears a confusing resemblance to Starkiller. I guess we'll have to bank of Luke's new silver fox status to set the two apart. He carries on with a meeting in which he and a small tribunal discuss war strategies, but we quickly walk away from this to watch Princes Leia leave for Space College. I'm not sure what Space College consists of, but if it's anything like American college its most likely about parties and Bantha chases.
The issue finally winds to a close with a ruckus in the halls of Luke's ship. A few angry shouts and stern warnings later and Luke and Starkiller are reunited. Their pleasantries quickly fade, however, when Starkiller, in true "they're tearing me apart Lisa" fashion, rips off his shirt and reveals that he is A. mostly cyborg, and B. dying. No rest for the Jedi-Bendu, however, because something big is on its way, big enough to be the climactic cliff hanger of the first issue of this new, yet old, spin on Star Wars.
Although I wasn't sure when I picked up the book, I can now say I'll be checking out the next issue of The Star Wars. While I was skeptical coming in, the over the top ending of the book helped put this entire series in perspective for me. While I wouldn't recommend it across the board to Star Wars fans, new or old, I would say that it makes for an entertaining novelty. It's sort of like an over the top DVD extras feature. Besides, I've always believed the best part of coming into Star Wars late, aka not being one of the one's in the theatre from opening weekend of the very first film, was discovering there was this massive new world to learn about, both on the story and production end. This book successfully adds to both, although the quality of said addition is open to debate especially since not much really happened in this issue. Fortunately, Star Wars fans are a resilient breed, so hang in there and let us know what you thought while we await issue two.