The Star Wars Dark Horse Comic Series Review | Fanboys Anonymous

The Star Wars Dark Horse Comic Series Review

Posted by Orion Petitclerc Monday, June 2, 2014
I don't usually go off-topic when it comes to what I write about here on Fanboys Anonymous. Those of you who've been following me probably know me as that Venom/Moon Knight dude, and I like that reputation, but I don't limit myself to what I love the most. I've been having a bit of a comic book renaissance of my own as of late in which I've been openly exploring other avenues and genres outside of my comfort zone. I happen to love Star Wars—maybe not as rabidly as my fellow geeks when I visit local conventions, but the franchise holds a special place in my upbringing. I've heard stories through word-of-mouth about the radically different initial draft George Lucas had written for Episode IV, so naturally, when I heard about Dark Horse Comics' plans to publish a limited series based on the rough draft, my interest was piqued.

Preorder The Star Wars by Dark Horse Comics with the Duluxe Box Set to receive foil-printed hardcover books and extrasTitled The Star Wars, the series neither disappointed the long-time fan in me, nor spoiled the memory of the original trilogy. The final issue of the 8-part series just published on May 28, 2014, and let me tell you: it was a wondrous ride, to say the least. J.W. Rinzler (RINZ-LER!) held the distinct and intense honor of adapting Lucas' rough draft to the comic book script, while Nick Runge provided the classic, posteresque cover art and Mike Mayhew and Rain Beredo drew and painted the equally beautiful interior artwork for every issue. Unlike any other Star Wars comics teams, this team had the heaviest burden to bear of all on this project: recapturing that particular sense of wonder and innocence most Star Wars fans across the generations experienced when they first watched A New Hope. This was perhaps the creative team's most notable accomplishment in their astounding adaptation.

From the very first page, you'll see that this isn't the Star Wars you grew up with. So much is different about this story, from which characters play which roles to the vast changes in the franchise's staple characters. Luke Skywalker isn't some punk kid living with his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru (both of whom don't even show up until much later in the story); he's a seasoned General of Aquilae—this story's version of Tatooine and Naboo wrapped into one planet—and one of the last survivors of the ill-fated Jedi-Bendu Rebellion against the New Empire. Anakin Skywalker isn't Luke's father nor Darth Vader; in The Star Wars, he is known as Annikin Starkiller, the son of the cyborg Jedi Kane Starkiller, Luke's padawan, and this story's stand-in for the original trilogy's Luke. Han Solo is a green-skinned alien, Darth Vader is merely a general under the command of Governor Hoedaak and the (non-Sith Lord) Emperor, and R2-D2 can actually talk. So yeah, prepare for a culture shock when you pick this series up.

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The Star Wars takes the original trilogy and combines it into one seamless, truncated version of the original plot. There are plenty of familiar, yet altered sights throughout the series, and some new concepts that never came into fruition in the final drafts of the films. The story is pretty much the same, though: the New Empire overthrew the old galactic regime (known simply as the Empire) after a fateful war against the Jedi-Bendu with the help of the Knights of the Sith, a rival clan of Force-disciplined warriors. The galaxy is about to fall under the complete control of the New Empire but for Aquilae, the final conquest and home of the Aquilean royal family, which includes Princess Leia and her younger brothers, Briggs and Windy. Luke, Annikin, and their associates are tasked with the protection of Leia and her brothers while fostering a Rebellion against the Empire and its seemingly invincible space fortress (what would go on to become the Death Star).

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Perhaps this was the fault of the comic writer or it was directly taken from the original rough draft, but one of the largest detractors in this series for me were the moments of simplistic and borderline unnecessary dialogue—not unnecessary as in crude, but as in the dialogue was confusing and unneeded for the scene. Granted, one of the greatest elements of the original Star Wars film trilogy was its accessibility to the masses through simplicity and veiled macroeconomics, so maybe this is just a nit-pick from a guy who's used to more complex forms of dialogue and story.

The artwork really propelled this series into stardom, though. The artists were carefully chosen to emulate the vision of the original and new trilogies while giving us a taste of something new and different. The art is very cinematic and contains elements of both science fiction and fantasy. As with the original trilogy, the Force of Others—as it's called in the books, with the altered catchphrase, "May the Force of Others be with you"—is a spiritual, unseen energy used by the Jedi and Prince Valorum, the Emperor's Sith Knight and Jedi hunter. The artists use no special effects to illustrate the Force of Others, which adds to the mysticism of the mysterious energy.

Top 10 Star Wars Episode VII rumors confirmed by J.J. Abrams during principle photographyDoes The Star Wars live up to the legend of Star Wars? Absolutely. This series is perhaps analogous to a very successful Marvel What If…? story, which retains the same atmosphere and command of the original trilogy while providing a mirror into an alternate reality. The films may not have achieved the same level of fame and success had Lucas produced them with his rough draft, but this comic book adaptation proves the existence of the same spark that enthralled audiences on A New Hope's opening day.

The Star Wars #1–8 receives 4.5 stars out of 5 for the wondrous, yet simplistic writing and 5 stars out of 5 for the stunning artwork. This is definitely a must-buy for any hardcore or interested Star Wars fan. I suggest waiting for the series to come out in a collected trade paperback book later in July 2014, or the special hardcover edition that includes issue #0—which contains conceptual artwork and notes from the creative team.

If you picked up the books as they came out, what did you think of the series? Are you excited for the teased "Saga of the Ophuchi" sequel? Who was your favorite alternate-reality character? Let us know in the comments section below, check out Tony Mango's "10 Reasons Star Wars: Episode VII May Be Doomed From the Start," and follow Fanboys Anonymous for more Star Wars news and reviews!

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