Sunday, 18 January 2015

Star Wars #1 - Marvel Comics

STAR WARS No. 1, March 2015
For anyone who can remember the immortal words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” emblazoned across the cinema screen for the first time in the late Seventies, this comic will almost certainly have you tingling with anticipation. For that is precisely how the first page reads, whilst the following two will make you catch your breath as the title “Star Wars” is splashed in front of your eyes as a double-page spread. One can actually hear John Williams’ orchestra playing the space opera’s theme music.

“Skywalker Strikes” was always going to have a hard time capturing the excitement and gritty grandeur of George Lucas’ science fiction vision, as Roy Thomas discovered writing “New Planets, New Perils!” for the seventh issue of “Star Wars” way back in January 1978; the first edition following the completed motion picture adaptation. But Jason Aaron has certainly been somewhat successful in his emulation of the franchise’s phenomenal formula. The ‘slightly bickering’ nature of the interplay between the main characters, the overconfidence of Han Solo, and the wretchedness of Threepio to name but a few. There’s even more than a few passing nods to the ‘original trilogy’ with ‘classic cult quotes’ such as “Your eyes can deceive you”, “Run” and of course “May the force be with you…” making an appearance.

Indeed within the space of thirty pages the American comic book writer crams in as much “Star Wars” as anyone could muster; from the Millennium Falcon to Imperial Walkers, from seemingly endless numbers of stormtroopers to more aliens than a cantina could hold, from a light sabre severing a hand to a miraculous display of Darth Vader using the Force… it has is all. Indeed even the ambitious protocol droid 4-LOM and the Skiff Guard disguise (subsequently worn by Lando Calrissian) prominently feature at the start of the story. And unfortunately this is the million-selling issue’s main problem, it is so busy paying homage to the fans and its cinematic history that it starts diluting the impact of events from the films which followed “A New Hope”.

For example, “The Empire Strikes Back” made a huge impact because it provided the official canon with the first look at Imperial Walkers, Bounty Hunters, Han and Chewbacca’s first encounter with Darth Vader as Rebels, but most importantly, Luke Skywalker’s initial confrontation, light sabre in hand, with the Sith Lord who he thought had ‘betrayed and murdered his father’. Aaron has rather spoilt that now by making it all have already happened in this issue.

Equally as ‘hit and miss’ is John Cassaday’s artwork, with the 2006 Eisner Award-winner desperately trying to capture the likenesses of the motion picture actors but only partially succeeding. Once again though, this is in many ways a thankless task, as the features of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are embedded in the subconscious of any “Star Wars” fan. The penciller actually does an extremely good job of drawing Luke Skywalker, complete with Alliance-issue yellow flight jacket, and to a lesser extent Han Solo. However his Princess Leia is disappointing at best with the character being predominantly drawn simply having a balloon-shaped head within which Cassaday has drawn his best interpretation of the American actress; irrespective of whether the face actually ties in with what the figure is doing or even where she is looking.
The regular cover art of "STAR WARS" No. 1 by John Cassaday and Laura Martin

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