Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I Reads You Review: Star Wars #1

DARK HORSE COMICS – @DarkHorseComics

["Star Wars Central" review page is here.]

SCRIPT: Brian Wood
ART: Carlos D’Anda
COLORS: Gabe Eltaeb
LETTERS: Michael Heisler
COVER: Alex Ross
28pp, Color, $2.99 U.S.

“In the Shadow of Yavin” Part One (of Three)

In the timeline of Star Wars Expanded Universe, “The Rebellion” is a five-year period that begins with the Battle of Yavin, the climatic battle in Star Wars in which the Death Star is destroyed. It includes the events depicted in the classic Star Wars films (the original trilogy): Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. This story period ends with the death of the Emperor, high over the forest moon of Endor and also as the Rebellion starts to transform itself into a government.

This is the story period in which Dark Horse Comics is setting its new Star Wars comic book series, simply entitled Star Wars. The series will explore new storytelling possibilities that “The Rebellion” period offers (according to Dark Horse Comics editor, Randy Stradley).

[According to Dark Horse: This is Star Wars as you remember it . . . and as you have never seen it before! We’re taking you back to those heady, adventure-filled days following the destruction of the Death Star—when the Empire ruled, the Rebels were on the run, and the galaxy was a dangerous place where anything might happen! The creative of Star Wars is writer Brian Wood, artist Carlos D’Anda, colorist Gabe Eltaeb, and letterer Michael Heisler. Alex Ross provides the cover for the first issue.]

Star Wars #1 opens after the Battle of Yavin, in which the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Galactic Empire’s fearsome space station, the Death Star. Still, the Alliance struggles. New allies are hard to gain, as even systems and worlds that have been able to fend off the Empire’s advances, refuse to side with the rebels. The Alliance also needs new sources of supplies, and most of all, they need a new permanent base.

That’s why the three-member, X-Wing, exploration team of Senator (Princess) Leia Organa, flight officer Luke Skywalker, and fighter pilot Wedge Antilles enter the Dominus Sector in the Outer Rim Territories. Meanwhile, Han Solo, with a death mark on his head in practically every system, and Chewbacca go on a mission for the Rebel Alliance. Mon Mothma, leader of the Alliance, makes a shocking offer to Senator Leia.

Meanwhile, the Emperor prepares to make his own moves in the aftermath of the Battle of Yavin. How will Darth Vader fare?

[This issue comes with a code to download a free digital issue of the comic book.]

First, I have to admit that when I read Star Wars novels, I read the ones involving characters from the original Star Wars film trilogy. Secondly, I can’t remember reading a Dark Horse Comics-produced Star Wars comic book that I did not like. Thus, I love this new Star Wars series. What’s do I like about it? The work of the creative team is what.

Dark Horse Comics may push the “come back to the adventure” angle, but for this series to thrive, the characters and the character drama will have to capture the reader’s imagination. Enter Brian Wood, an illustrator, comic book artist, and writer known for writing captivating characters in science fiction and fantasy settings.

Wood not only imagines and fashions conflicts within individual characters, but he also constructs lines of tension and conflict between allies and friends. The reader might wonder what is going on between Luke, who thinks often of what has been lost (even after victory), and Leia, who looks steadfastly towards the future. In Han Solo, Wood presents a man who is both a hustler and a survivor, but he seems to asks, can this man be hero in what might essentially be a lost cause. Also, Wood may be the only writer outside of George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan who has probed so deeply into the desires and struggles behind the mask of Darth Vader.

Visually and graphically, artist Carlos D’Anda never lets the reader doubt that this is classic Star Wars. In terms of style, D’Anda’s art recalls the very first Star Wars comic book artist, Howard Chaykin. D’Anda takes the cartoonish elegance of J. Scott Campbell (obviously an influence on him) and turns it into compositions that emphasize storytelling over quirkiness and style. However, it is the detail D’Anda puts in the Star Wars tech and star ships, the customs, sets, backgrounds, and backdrops that are the most impressive. Looking at the detail he puts into drawing the X-Wing and Tie Interceptors, for example, makes me wonder if D’Anda draws this solo. Gabe Eltaeb’s sparkling colors make the art even livelier.

I’ll just get it out of the way and say that this new Star Wars starts off the New Year as one of the best new series of the year. Readers of Star Wars comics and fans of the original Star Wars trilogy should try this Star Wars comic book, at least once.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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