Thursday, January 10, 2013

Star Wars #1

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Carlos D'Anda

If I had to sum up the first ten years of my life in only two words, they would be 'Star Wars'.  It was the first movie I ever saw, in a drive-in at the age of four, and it became an all-consuming passion through the release of Return of the Jedi.  Star Wars is also the reason why I started reading comics.  Star Wars #30 is the first comic I remember buying (again, at the age of four), and that became the impetus for a hobby that has lasted until today.

As much love as I have for the property though, I've never been much of a fan of anything that came after Return of the Jedi.  The prequel movies were a big disappointment, and I more or less ignored the Dark Horse comics until I recently came to realize that John Ostrander had been writing them, and I've read all of his work starting with his wonderful Star Wars: Legacy, and moving on to the equally wonderful Agent of the Empire, and the less impressive Dawn of the Jedi.

Anyway, it was with great excitement that I learned that Brian Wood, a writer I have tremendous respect for, would be given the opportunity to write a monthly comic that features the original, central characters of the first movie, in stories set between it and The Empire Strikes Back.  Wood is best known for comics like DMZ, Northlanders, and The Massive, although he has recently been working on some X-Men titles at Marvel.  Of all his books, I most love his Local, which is about as far removed from Star Wars as you can get, but with his ability to find small, personal stories in large, chaos-ridden backdrops (I mean, that's basically what DMZ, Northlanders, and The Massive are), he struck me as an inspired choice for this kind of comic.

Having read this first issue, I am very excited to continue reading this series.  The story opens on Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and pilot Wedge Antilles scouting the outer rim of the galaxy for a suitable location for a new Rebel base.  They aren't out of hyperspace long though before a contingent of Imperials arrive, clearly aware that they would be there.  There is some fighting, some crashing, and what have you, and later we learn that Mon Mothma, the leader of the Alliance, suspects that there is a traitor feeding information to the Imperials.  She puts Leia in charge of a small group of rebels that will be working independently and in secret to either flush out the traitor, or find a new home for the Alliance.

It's a nice simple concept that provides Wood with opportunities to usher in the character growth that, between the first two movies, changed Luke Skywalker from the annoyingly whiny farm boy into an ace Rebel pilot, and which brought about a sense of selflessness in Han Solo.

One thing that always appealed to me about Star Wars comics was the opportunity to pour over large pictures of cool space craft.  In that, Carlos D'Anda does not disappoint, drawing some very cool Tie Fighters.  One problem that always exists in licensed comics is that the characters need to look enough like the actors and actresses that portrayed them, without looking overly photo-referenced and stiff.  D'Anda mostly maintains a balance between the two, which is a good thing.

I also enjoyed the fact that, at least for this issue, Wood and D'Anda resisted the urge to over-fill panels with cutesy aliens and funny droids, the two most regrettable facets of the digitally altered more recent DVD and Blu-Ray releases of George Lucas's original work.  This book has a more adult feel to it than the movies do, which is appreciated.

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