Walking with Starkillers
MAY the Force of others be with you.Wait a minute, the Force of OTHERS? What on Coruscant is that? What? Coruscant doesn’t even exist? What about Alderaan? What do you mean it wasn’t destroyed, but is actually a floating city like Bespin? And who’s Annakin Starkiller? Are we even IN the Star Wars universe anymore?
Well, yes and no. Dark Horse Comics’ The Star Wars limited series is based on the original rough draft screenplay George Lucas wrote in 1974, a full three years before Star Wars (later known as Episode IV – A New Hope) hit the silver screen.
From the get go, you get the feeling that you aren’t on Tatooine anymore.
We first check in with Jedi-Bendu warrior Kane Starkiller and his two sons, one of whom is Annakin (not the Anakin we know).
When tragedy strikes this little family, Kane brings Annakin to his old Jedi-Bendu friend, General Luke Skywalker of Aquilae (who looks more like Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan Kenobi than Mark Hamill), and asks that he trains the young lad to become a Jedi-Bendu.
General Skywalker has his own problems though: Aquilae is facing a war with the evil Empire, and an evil Knight of the Sith is hunting down the remnants of the Jedi-Bendu.
To make things worse, he has to make sure that a certain princess named Leia, heir to the Aquilae throne, is kept from the clutches of the Empire.
Getting confused? Well, that’s just the first issue!
While there are some similarities between The Star Wars and the actual Star Wars that came to be, the fun in this series lies in seeing Lucas’ original vision for his universe.
There are some familiar elements here: a father who is more machine than man, a princess to be rescued, two bickering droids.
For the most part, though, this is not the Star Wars we know and love.
The names are all “wrong”, the story seems like a mish-mash of the prequels and the original trilogy, and the hero isn’t even called Luke Skywalker.
It did take a bit of getting used to at first. For instance, Han Solo here is a green alien that bears more than a passing resemblance to Swamp Thing; instead of beeping and bopping, R2-D2, sorry, Artwo DeTwo, actually TALKS in proper English, and Darth Vader isn’t even a Sith Lord, but an Imperial general who answers to another Sith KNIGHT named Prince Valorum.
Fortunately, once you’ve gotten used to the fact that this isn’t the Star Wars Universe you were looking for, The Star Wars is actually a pretty fun ride. If you’re familiar enough with Star Wars, then you’ll have some fun spotting the similarities between the two.
There are certain parts of the story that actually mirror the films (the cantina scene, in particular, stands out), but for the most part this is a story that stands somewhat apart from the movies.
Mike Mayhew’s artwork here is beautiful too.
While his depiction of the space dogfights and lightsabre battles is great, he especially excels in drawing out the raw emotions in his characters.
Just think of it as an alternate universe, freed of the shackles of continuity and familiarity, and what might have been had Lucas not decided to change things around later on.
And now, presenting: The trailer for the comic adaptation of George Lucas' original draft screenplay for ... The Star Wars!
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Carlos D’Anda
IF a Star Wars that is not exactly Star Wars isn’t your cup of tea, then Brian Wood’s continuing series based on the films should suit you fine.
With a story set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, it’s a fascinating look at just what might happened between the Rebels’ victory at Yavin and the Empire’s attack on Hoth.
The series revolves around the core group of characters we know from the movie – Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, the two droids and of course, Darth Vader – and expands their roles beyond what we’ve already seen in the movies.
Wood is probably best known for Vertigo series DMZ, as well as being the current writer of X-Men, and he gives a lot of love to this group of already well-loved characters, giving them more depth than the films ever did, while sticking to what Disney now considers the true Star Wars “canon” which is the six movies.
One two-part story about Darth Vader’s hunt for a traitor is especially intriguing, as Wood not only writes a compelling and chilling Vader, he also deftly builds the character up towards THAT ultimate revelation in The Empire Strikes Back.
As such, it is completely conceivable that this is how Vader found out about his son, and how he came up with the offer to “rule this universe as father and son”.
Another character who benefits from Wood’s treatment is Leia, whose grief at losing her entire homeworld has never been truly explored within scope of the films.
Wood gives her a lot more depth here.
Apart from making her an X-Wing pilot, he also allows her time to grieve, and explores the impact the destruction of Alderaan truly had on her.
With the recent announcement that Disney/Lucasfilm intends to discard the entire Expanded Universe and only regard the six previous movies as canon, one wonders where the decision will leave this particular series.
While Wood wisely sets the story within the confines of the films, he also throws in elements that are considered part of the EU, including Rogue Squadron (which was first conceived for the video games).
All the same, Wood does such a good job with this series that I really hope Marvel will continue with it after the company takes back the Star Wars comics licence next year. Because if the post-Dark Horse Star Wars comics manage to be half as good as this, then the Force will truly be with it.