ADVANCE REVIEW! Star Wars #1 will go on sale Wednesday, January 9, 2013.
I love Star Wars. I have since I was six years-old and my father showed me the trilogy for the first time. I have even read a book or two in the Expanded Universe. That said, I have never read a Star Wars comic until now. Never completely due to lack of interest, but primarily because I had always missed the point when a new series was starting. I should also preface this by stating that I was not looking forward to Brian Wood's new series, despite knowing nothing past "Brian Wood is writing a new Star Wars comic." And I like Brian Wood. His run on Ultimate Comics: X-Men following Nick Spencer has been phenomenal, his work on his other licensed Dark Horse book — Conan the Barbarian — has been a joy to read (especially as one who never cared for the character) and what I have read of DMZ is spectacular (still have a long way to go on finishing that one). But, I am a Star Wars fanboy and I just didn't want to see what was going to happen to my saga. Yeah, I said it: my saga. I feel as any die hard fan feels about that fictional galaxy far, far away; it is a part of me and has very much defined who I am as a geek and as a person. But, I gave in to temptation (i.e. opened a Dark Horse e-mail with a PDF of the following week's comics) and peered into what I was eerily certain was going to break my little geek heart. But, it didn't. So, I read it again. Still in one piece. I…I think I may very well like this new series.
Brian Wood and Carlos D'Anda's Star Wars #1 takes place about a month after the Death Star explosion on Yavin IV in the original Star Wars. While the Rebels were the victors at Yavin IV, with Alderaan gone, the Alliance is in search of a new base. In the story, we are introduced to Luke, Leia and Wedge Antilles, searching the Outer Rim territories for a new homeworld for the Rebel Alliance. I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say that things don't go too well.
What makes this series different from the other Dark Horse Star Wars comics is that this one is still held within the confines of the original trilogy. There will not be any expanded universe that takes place before, after or in-between the two trilogies. We get characters that we already know, characters that we feel an emotional bond with. These aren't the lost stories of Boba Fett and IG-88, but Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie and characters that actually hold meaning to every Star Wars geek. Choosing to take on a comic with these characters is a big deal. You will get fanboys (like me) picking apart every scene, every line of dialogue, every choice made by both writer and artist. But with that said, Wood and D'Anda manage to stay true to the source material, while also bringing something else to the plate.
While Star Wars (the film) introduced a great many personalities into the ether, they were far from real characters; Lawrence Kasdan did a remarkable job on the script for The Empire Strikes Back and turned the archetypes that George Lucas used in Star Wars into real characters. Brian Wood, here, does the same. Wood's characterizations are not only on point, but every character — even the under-utilized Wedge Antilles — gets a backbone. If you give this comic to a first time viewer of Star Wars, they would have a much better grasp of the characters leading up to their viewing of Empire. You get that Leia is far from a "damsel in distress", that Luke is still reeling from the numerous deaths in his life, Han is the good guy still trying desperately to be a scoundrel; it's all here in twenty-five pages. And these twenty-five pages are just "Part One" of a three-part story.
In writing this tale, Wood is very limited to what kind of story he can tell. It cannot be too outrageous, too far-fetched or too outside-the-box. It is very much a tough gig being brought on a comic like this. Unlike Conan, he is not given carte blanche to do whatever he may like. With this story in particular, he must follow one of the most highly regarded films ever made and do it without bringing in anything from the film's two sequels. And he does it all very beautifully. Not only does he keep to the constraints of the elements from the first film, but he does not reveal any details of what awaits these characters in the next two. Hell, he does not even reveal who Darth Vader really is! You know who he is. I know who he is. But since it isn't revealed until the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Wood is keeping it in his back pocket. Thank goodness Wood does not fall prey to the issues of the prequels.
But enough about Brian Wood. Let's discuss the interior artwork done by Carlos D'Anda. It is gorgeous! D'Anda — whose work I was not familiar with prior to reading this — has very detailed pencils. I mean, not only does every ship, every costume and every face look as if he spent countless hours perfecting each, but his backgrounds have minute definition to them. Every blade of grass he draws in a field can be told apart, and that is certainly saying something. He is also very much a fan of the black ink line. All of his characters and ships pop right off the page with his inks. I don't know if he is just on the series for this three-parter, but I would love to see him on this comic for the long haul. However, I wouldn't be surprised if he had a psychotic episode due to lack of sleep. Honestly, I don't know how he can do this every month. Gabe Eltaeb's colors are bit bright for my taste, considering this is a Star Wars book, but it does not take away from the art in any way. And his colors on all the space scenes work very well.
I like to think of this comic as the pilot for the lost television series that was supposed to take place between Star Wars and Empire. Everything about it screams Star Wars. Even the opening introduction belongs on a yellow-lettered opening crawl. It even ends in an ellipsis! I went in to this thinking that my stomach would be turning as I flip every page and I could not be more ecstatic to be wrong. Not only did this comic not break my little geek heart, but it may have just made it skip a beat.
Nick Boisson grew up on television, Woody Allen, video games, Hardy Boys mysteries and DC comic books, with the occasional Spider-Man issue thrown in for good measure. He currently roams the rainy streets of Miami, Florida, looking for a nice tie, a woman that gets him, and the windbreaker he
lost when he was eight. He sometimes writes things down on Twitter at @nitroslick.