Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trade Tales! - The Star Wars

Next up for the month is a weird return to the Star Wars universe. Actually, I don’t even know if you can call it that. I guess it’s the “Earth-2” of the Star Wars multiverse or something.

For those who don’t know, George Lucas had an original draft to Star Wars called “The Star Wars.” It was similar to what he put into the original trilogy but a lot of crap was different. Some names and characters are similar but there are a lot of things different about it. For example, Luke Skywalker is older and is in Obi-Wan’s role. Annikin Starkiller is more or less of the main protagonist and basically has Luke’s role from the movie. There’s a Darth Vader who’s only a scarred general, R2-D2 (spelled differently) actually talks, and Han Solo looks like Swamp Thing. Those are just some changes.

I actually found the trade at a comic convention last year. I got it along with the adaptation to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. The 8-part miniseries came out through Dark Horse. I think this mini was one of the last ones done before Marvel got the rights for the comics. J.W. Rinzler is the writer of the adaptation. He’s done a few things for the Star Wars universe. He even had to get permission from George Lucas to adapt the script. The artwork is done by Mike Mayhew and I’ve seen some of his stuff with DC. So, how does this original draft hold up?

The Star Wars
Writer: J.W. Rinzler
Art: Mike Mayhew
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Nick Runge

The overall story is similar to A New Hope. It looks like some plot threads show up in other movies like Return of the Jedi and everyone’s “favorite” movie, The Phantom Menace. It revolves around the remnants of the Jedi-Bendu, former bodyguards of a long-gone empire. That benevolent empire fell and a more evil empire rose in its ashes. The Jedi-Bendu also started to get hunted down by the Knights of Sith, followers of a much darker code. The story catches up with the Galactic Empire trying to conquer a planet called Aquilae. Our main players are Luke Sywalker (an Aquialen general), and Annikin Starkiller, his padawan. Kane Starkiller, Annikin’s father and a former Jedi-Bendu, left Annikin to be trained by Luke in their ways.
While this cool-looking Sith Knight shows up, he's gone after the first issue. Sorry.

The king of Aquilae finds out that the empire is sending a big force in order to invade them, so he sends ships of his own to face them. He also gets his family, including his daughter, Princess Leia, to safety. Unfortunately, those ships are destroyed and he is killed. This leaves Leia to be next in line as Queen. Since she is important to the system, Skywalker and Starkiller will have to guard and protect her. As they’re trying to reach a space port, they come across two Empire droids that ultimately come in use.

They make it to the spaceport and meet up with Swamp Thing cosplayer, Han Solo. Skywalker also meets with ones who are trying to start a rebellion against the Empire. Eventually, our heroes board a ship but it is unfortunately helmed by Valorum, a Sith Knight. Skywalker and the rest are able to escape in a smaller ship but Valorum gives chase. Skywalker and the rest end up using life pods when their ship is destroyed. Their life pods end up on a planet called Yavin.
The guy with heat vision is Darth Vader. The dude in the mask is the Sith Knight. I see why Lucas combined these two.

Leia ends up being captured by bounty hunters working for the Empire. Annikin tries to save her but gets knocked out. Luckily, he’s saved by a Wookie. Meanwhile, the others end up staying with Owen and Beru Lars. Thanks to Annikin, the Wookies join their side and help them take over an Empire outpost. Skywalker helps the Wookies learn to pilot fighters while Annikin, who’s in love with Leia, decides to risk it all and leave Yavin to save her. He heads to the empire’s Space Fortress (think the Death Star) and disguises himself. Unfortunately, he gets captured.
Yes, the Ninja Turtle is Han Solo.

Skywalker is able to get the Wookies flying and they team up with the other rebels. In the Fortress, Valorum suddenly (literally) has a change of heart and helps Annikin break free from his cell. They go find Leia and eventually escape on a ship. Meanwhile, Skywalker and the rebels attack the fortress and they are able to destroy it. In the end, Leia is appointed queen of Aquilae. She appoints Annikin as her protector and after that, our story ends.

So, what did I think of this first draft? Well, I can thank God that someone marked that draft with a lot of red ink! In all seriousness, this was fine for the most part. I did think it was interesting to see what would have happened if Lucas didn’t change anything. A lot of familiar stuff is there but it’s just a bit different. The fact that it is Lucas’s original vision does make it something to read. As for the numerous characters, only one that really stuck out me was General Skywalker. I thought he was pretty awesome. He was like a hard-edged version of Obi-wan that didn’t take no crap.

The artwork from Mike Mayhew was also another highlight. Even when the story itself got a bit… “meh,” the artwork helped push me along.  I liked the action, a lot of the character designs, and the different looks. I definitely sense a prequel feel with the cities and the characters. I noticed a few nods to the movies. For example, there’s a Jake Lloyd-clone who gets offed in the first few pages. If you weren’t a fan of young little Anakin Skywalker, you might like that. I, in turn, would also have to look at you weird. I even thought the obvious nod to Swamp Thing was hilarious. Man, Han looked weird! Also, does General Skywalker remind you of anyone?

As for the negatives, I do have a few here. It’s actually not a bad story since we’ve seen later versions of it on screen. Still, this first draft isn’t really good. It feel rushed in places and character development is lacking. That could be forgivable, but when you think about everything else, you really run into problems. First, the dialogue is pretty weird and seems unnatural. In fact, it really reads like dialogue from the Prequel trilogy. To give the prequels a little credit, it wasn’t all bad at times. Then again, there was “I hate the sand.”

The characters come off as bland. It also feels like there are too many for this story to handle. Outside of General Skywalker, I really didn’t like any of the rest. They’re either bland or a bit annoying. For a main lead, Annikin was kind of crap. The villains were also a little bland. I’m still wondering how the flip with Valorum came into play because that didn’t make any sense. Also, what was going on with Annikin’s and Leia’s love story? By the way, they ain’t related here, so don’t go there, Internet! Their romance was literally set up out of nowhere and really felt weird when reading their dialogue. I definitely get an Anakin/Padme vibe from them.

Overall, let’s be thankful that Lucas revised the story into what it became. I will say that it was interesting to read what could have happened. Also, the artwork was pretty cool. If you’re curious like I was, I say go for it. Just know that you won’t get much from it. Well, it’s time to return to my first sci-fi love. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and “May for the Force of Others be with you.” I don’t know who those “others” are, but I think they may be alright.

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