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July 8th, 2014 by Dave Bowling Comments

The Star Wars
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: J. W. Rinzler
Artist: Mike Mayhew
Colorist: Rain Beredo, Brad Anderson

Many years ago, after completing a film called American Graffiti, a director by the name of George Lucas began working on a screenplay for an epic science fiction movie.

For inspiration, Lucas drew on the Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and Commander Cody movie serials of the 1930s and 40s, along with films like Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. In his first draft he created a galaxy where an evil imperial force led by a puppet emperor was faced by a single rebellious solar system, Aquilae. Leading the rebellion is one of the last four Jedi-Bendu, General Luke Skywalker. As war seems inevitable, Skywalker commits himself to save the royal family of Aquilae, including Princess Leia, with the help of friend and fellow Jedi Kane Starkiller and his sons Annikin and Deak. Meanwhile, General Darth Vader moves his giant battlestation into position and Sith knight Prince Valorum prepares to hunt down the last of the Jedi-Bendu.

Sound familiar? No? Well, this first draft would finally evolve into the Star Wars universe we know and love. The differences in the original and shooting scripts have been talked about at some length but Dark Horse and Lucasfilm have brought the original to life. Star Wars and Indiana Jones spin-off writer JW Rinsler here teams with artist Mike Mayhew (Zorro, She-Hulk) and colourist Rain Beredo (Amazing Spider-Man, Dark Avengers) to produce a graphic novel that is a treat to behold.

The artwork is truly spectacular, with this alternate world rendered in epic pages and vivid colours by Mayhew and Beredo. There is a grandiose feel to the artwork, with many nods to the famed alternate designs that Lucas produced earlier in the design process. Two of the prototype Millennium Falcon designs appear here, along with starfighters that are more like the ARC-170 of Revenge of the Sith than the familiar X-Wing.

Possibly the main problem lies with the source material. Rinsler adapts it with aplomb, showing us a galaxy that has always been under imperial control, the monarchy becoming corrupt as time goes on. The Sith are a warrior clan, rather than the polar opposite of the Jedi, and have taken on the role of galactic peacekeepers since the ‘great Jedi rebellion’ centuries earlier. The blue collar speaking R2D2 is an interesting touch; Luke Skywalker’s angry prototype of Obi-Wan Kenobi seems a little too angry; and Annikin Starkiller always seems like a bad fit compared to Mark Hamil. And the less said about Han Solo the better. But the overall portrayal of this parallel Star Wars universe is intriguing.

May the force of others be with you. Gordon’s Alive, that sounds clunky…

3 1/2 out of 5 Nerds

Dave was born at an early age to parents of both sexes. He has been a self-confessed geek for as long as he can remember, having been raised through the 80s on a steady diet of Doctor Who, Star Trek, Red Dwarf and (sigh) Knight Rider. Throw the usual assortment of Saturday morning cartoons into the mix and we have something quite exceptional: someone with an encyclopaedic knowledge of utter tosh; a love of giant robots and spaceships fighting; and the strange desire to leap tall buildings in a single bound while wearing his underpants over his trousers. The death ray is currently in the works and one day you shall all bow to him, his giant space station and fleet of funky orange space shuttles...