THOUGHT CLOUDS: Star Wars #1 (Dark Horse, 2013)

Star Wars #1

Brain Wood, writer. Carlos D’Anda, artist.

So there is a new Star Wars comic.

A Star Wars comic that tells the story of the characters from MY Star Wars.

A Star Wars comic featuring a cover by Alex Ross.

A Star Wars comic that, if you read it, all you need to know beforehand is what happened in one movie: the first Star Wars movie. (No, not Episode 1. Don’t be a smart alec.)

A Star Wars comic that has beautiful artwork.

A Star Wars comic that is meant to scratch the itch that old school fans have for new stories featuring those original characters as they appeared in the movies.

A Star Wars comic that is meant to draw in the newer fans who are used to modern action sensibilities.

A Star Wars comic for, well, people like me.

So, is it good? Well, using the template of judgement used in a recent podcast episode (the one about people who were riding the coattails of that first Star Wars movie, actually), I’m going to review this by looking at the Light Side and the Dark Side.

Light Side:

The art. It’s very good. Much better than the Marvel Comics comics from the days just after the first movie came out. Stylistically, those comics were great, but as a four-year-old I read them and got frustrated that, frankly, the people didn’t look like the actors. Now, of course, we’ve seen these character interpreted in many different ways, from Chibi-styled to ultra-realistic, so it’s easier to forgive when characters have a stylistic interpretation. Still, this comic feels more natural than those comics from the ’70’s.

The story. It explores the natural ramifications of the events in that first movie, as the characters are trying to deal with the victories and losses from the movie. It’s interesting enough, and has a subplot of a spy within the ranks of the rebellion.

Dark Side:

The story. I’ve read this story before: the rebellion needs a new base because their old base has been discovered. Marvel covered this ground years ago. Twice that I can remember.

The stakes. Since it is set between the movies, any characters who are in The Empire Strikes Back are safe. We know where their character arcs are going to take them, and I’m not seeing much in this one issue (which is an IMPORTANT note — this is just one issue I’m reviewing) to suggest something more. Only one new character was introduced: an Imperial officer who is assigned command of Darth Vader’s star destroyer. I’m guessing HIS character arc is to end with him clutching his throat (unless he’s the guy from Empire Strikes Back who dies first — I’m not a big enough fan to recognize his name, I guess). There are hints of some character growth in the characters we know from the next movie, but it feels like it is simply moving toward the next movie, instead of giving something new to resolve before the events of Empire. (Again, this is the first issue — what I’m saying here could easily be resolved next issue for all I know, as the story grows and continues.)

The writing. It’s good. But there is a lot of exposition, and unneeded exposition. Reading it, it just hit me wrong. If it is a throwback to old school comics, it is not consistently done. If it is meant to explain things people might not understand, it is one of the cardinal sins of comics: redundant. It describes things we have already seen in art or read in dialogue. This is a minor quibble, though.

I recommend the book, and plan to read the next few issues. Most of what Dark Horse has done with their comics lately has not interested me at all, except their VECTOR crossover “event”. But this got my interest, as it was intended to, I’m sure.

For a preview, click here: Star Wars #1 preview on the Dark Horse website

And to read some of the FIRST expanded Star Wars universe stories, you can get these collections of the old Marvel comic series . . . (And remember, purchasing anything after clicking these links helps support Strangers and Aliens’ operating costs!)



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6 responses to “THOUGHT CLOUDS: Star Wars #1 (Dark Horse, 2013)”

  1. Mike Poteet Avatar
    Mike Poteet

    I basically agree with your review, Ben, the good and the bad; but I do think the fact that the Rebel ship is christened “Redemption” and that Palpatine uses the phrase “redeem yourself” to Vader hints at (perhaps) a decent character arc or two in this series. But, yes, too much talky-talky, and too much of a prequel feel with the Mon Mothma-Leia powow.

    On the other hand, BIG PROPS to them for making Leia the star of the issue. I know we Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek, but Leia’s not a Christian, and when she took down that TIE pilot, those two pages ROCKED 🙂

    1. Ben Avatar

      I just looked up the Redemption . . . it’s sister ship? The Salvation. Brian Wood did not name the ship, it was named in a video game and then a card game revealed it was the ship Luke was on at the end if Empire.

      Great symbolic name considering . . . but another reason the expanded universe of Star Wars is a tiny bit insane to me. Card games and video games reveal those details . . . just give me good stories!

    2. Ben Avatar

      Agreed about Leia. But it would have felt better if we could’ve seen that as a moment of development for her. It felt like “business as usual”. And there was a throwaway line about Wedge losing everyone he knows in the battle — I’m sure they’ve explored that in other materials, but whether they have or not, I wanted to see Wedge actually have a reaction. If that’s going to be something for his character, it shouldn’t be introduced as a small bit of dialogue.

      Truthfully, I could see it being a set up for him being the spy, if I didn’t know he was with them in Return of the Jedi. Still could be, but because its a prequel we know he will be exonerated.

      1. Mike Poteet Avatar
        Mike Poteet

        On the contrary: it’s better that it’s “business as usual.” She doesn’t need a development arc in that direction by the time of Ep IV – she’s already been fighting and leading the Rebellion for a while. I think to have it presented as a “breakthrough” moment or something (my language, not yours – maybe I am misunderstanding your point) would actually diminish Leia: “See, girls can kick butt, too.” This is the Leia we saw grab the blaster and start firing in the Death Star before they went down the trash chute (also her idea). Perfectly in character, and one of the issue’s standout moments.

        I don’t think Wedge heard that line of dialogue – my impression is he broke in on Luke and Leia’s conversation when the TIEs showed up.

        My understanding is that Wedge is the only person other than Luke to survive both Death Star battles, so, yes, I think he’s there boogying with the Ewoks right along with the rest of them. Yub yub!

        1. Ben Avatar

          I guess my problem is that the whole thing feels like business as usual.

          Han in this comic is exactly like Han in Empire. Leia in this comic is exactly like Leia in Empire. Luke seems to be the only one with room to grow. And Darth’s subplot means nothing unless there is a big reveal with the new commander.

          So while I like seeing the team back together, I feel the weight of being a prequel hanging over it — we know who these people are going to be in a year or so when they finally find Hoth.

          Again. I’m judging one issue, and in today’s comics, not much happens in one issue! So all my complaints might not have merit after issue 3 or 4. But that’s the problem with serial, monthly storytelling. You have to either judge based on a fraction of the story, or purchase four or five issues to finally get to what the writer is trying to do.

        2. Ben Avatar

          On second thought, I don’t think it should be “business as usual” for Leia here. My impression (and I may be wrong, because I have not read any books about her from before the first movie — but my impression is supported by the radio version!) is that in the first movie, she is tough and resourceful, but not battle hardened. She has mostly been playing the part of political spy/operative for the Rebellion, she has not been involved in actual fighting.

          That’s why this struck me as off. In these stories we should see her as she turns from someone who has been working within the Senate to someone who now has to actually fight and take leadership on the field. In other words, see how she goes from being Leia the undercover rebel leader in episode IV to Leia the military leader in episode V.

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