Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Review: STAR WARS: Lost Stars Volume 1

YEN PRESS – @yenpress

[This review was originally posted on Patreon. Please, visit the "Star Wars Central" review page here.]

ORIGINAL STORY:  Claudia Gray – @claudiagray
ART: Yusaku Komiyama
LETTERS: Abigail Blackman
ISBN: 978-1-975326-53-1; paperback (May 2018); Rated “T” for “Teen”
258pp, B&W, $13.00 U.S., $17.00 CAN

Star Wars: Lost Stars is a 2015 young adult science fiction novel written by Claudia Gray.  Set in the Star Wars universe, this novel offers a narrative the occurs before, during, and after the events depicted in the original Star Wars film trilogy:  Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983).  Gray's story focuses on two childhood friends from different backgrounds who eventual find themselves on different sides of a galactic war.

LINE Manga, a manga-reading app, published a manga adaptation of Star Wars: Lost Stars, adapted, written, and drawn by Yusaku Komiyama.  Yen Press is currently reprinting the Star Wars: Lost Stars manga in a series of paperback graphic novels. Star Wars: Lost Stars Volume 1 reprints the first six chapters of the manga.

Star Wars: Lost Stars, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 6) introduces Thane Kyrell, a hotshot pilot for the Rebel Alliance who finds himself right in the middle of the “Battle of Hoth.”  After the battle, Thane has time to think upon his past because he was once a lieutenant in the Galactic Empire, but his memories go further back – fourteen years prior to be specific.

Thane was born on the planet Jelucan to the higher caste group, “the Second Wave.”  He befriends, Ciena Ree, a girl who belongs to the lower caste, “the First Wave,” the original settlers of Jelucan.  As children, Thane and Ciena have an unexpected and shocking encounter with a powerful Imperial officer shortly after the Galactic Empire makes Jelucan an Imperial world.  That leads to the two friends eventually being accepted into the Royal Imperial Academy, but as the two teenagers move through rigorous training and study, they discover that they see Imperial culture differently.

I have not read Claudia Gray's Star Wars: Lost Stars original novel, but after reading the manga/comics adaptation, I want to start right away (time permitting).  I can say that Yusaku Komiyama's adaptation results in clean graphical storytelling.  From a narrative and graphics standpoint, the Star Wars: Lost Stars manga does not focus on the lore of Star Wars so much as it does focus on a personal or character drama within the larger story, which I assume the novel does.  The story of Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree is the focus and the larger galactic war is the backdrop.

As for the illustrations, the characters do look like what readers may expect of characters drawn by a manga or mange-influenced artist.  As for the visual elements of Star Wars:  costumes and clothing; ships and crafts, weapons and tools, and interior and exterior environments and spaces, Komiyama draws everything to look like authentic Star Wars.  Komiyama does this as well as the best Star Wars comic book artists who have drawn Star Wars comics for Marvel Comics and Dark Horse Comics.

Komiyama really emphasizes the dialogue and the moments that define the birth and growth of Thane and Ciena's relationship.  Even when the story focuses on one or the other, the story is about their relationship.  Star Wars fans, however, will be excited to know that this first volume recreates scenes from both Star Wars: New Hope (Episode IV) and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V), and some beloved characters make appearances or even play a sizable role in the story.

Star Wars: Lost Stars Volume 1 is the first Star Wars manga that I have read, and I like it a lot.  I am anxious to read the second volume.  It is not perfect, but I won't let perfect be the enemy of good.  I would not compare this manga to the some of the best Dark Horse and Marvel Star Wars comic books, but for young readers, probably as young as middle school age, Star Wars: Lost Stars Volume 1 is true Star Wars.

7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2018 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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