Since the original “Star Wars” was released in 1977 the space-faring fantasy story has turned into a story machine. The universe conceived by George Lucas not only spawned six live action movies, but hundreds of novels, television series, radio dramas, toys, and comic books. All of these ideas were generated by the premise laid out by Lucas. But the movie that made it to the big screen was much different than the original screenplay written by Lucas. As most writers do, the screenplay underwent much rewriting to get to the point of Luke Skywalker saving the galaxy.
Dark Horse Comics uncovered the original 1974 screenplay of “The Star Wars” by Lucas and now they are bringing Lucas’ original vision to life in an eight part series by scripter J.W. Rinzler, artist Mike Mayhew, and colorist Rain Beredo. “The Star Wars” #1 is available at your local comic book retailer as well as online through Dark Horse’s digital platform.
In “The Star Wars” #1 many of the names, characters, and themes we recognize from the movies are there in one form or another. There is a Skywalker and he is a General in the order of the Jedi, but he resembles Luke’s mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi more than the fresh faced farm boy of Tatooine. The young Jedi apprentice is Annikin Starkiller the son of General Skywalker’s great friend. The galaxy is engaged in an ongoing civil war with an Emperor forcing his will upon the people with the aid of his enforcer Darth Vader. Princess Leia is much younger than the head strong senator who is at the forefront of a Rebellion.
With so many concepts evident in the first issue that feel familiar but different, the comic is a fresh look at the story and a great way to see how a story is made. Rinzler’s script paces out the story well with introductions to many of the key players who make up this galaxy. Quickly he is able to show the danger that exists from the threat of the Sith as they hunt the last remaining Jedi.
Much more sci-fi than the fantasy-filled movies, “The Star Wars” echoes many of the themes that Lucas would come to write about in the Prequel Trilogy which started in 1999. The Empire seeks to exert its control with treaties forcing the planet Aquilae to sign or face certain destruction; much like the Trade Federation forced a treaty upon Naboo in the “Phantom Menace.” The Jedi-Bendu who had once been the protectors of the galaxy are now seen as rebellious having attempted to overthrow the Emperor; this is reminiscent of the Emperor’s rise to power in “Revenge of the Sith” which painted the heroes as the villains who almost destroyed the Republic.
The artwork of Mayhew is inspired by the concept art of Ralph McQuarrie who did the first interpretations of Lucas’ screenplay. General Skywalker and Annikin Starkiller are taken from those early concept pieces directly and Mayhew brings them to life on the page. Mayhew’s storytelling brings this epic into being. His panel choices move the eye through the story filling each page with the look of the lush settings Lucas used in his movies. From barren desert wasteland, to the imperial planet of Alderran Mayhew makes the setting feel right for “Star Wars.”
The colors of Beredo stay true to the palette used by McQuarrie in the original concept artwork, but add more modern shading to give the story an updated look. The colors convey a lot of the tone of the story. The Empire is shown with cooler, even bland, colors. The Rebellion is depicted with warmer colors evoking a more thoughtful feeling reminiscent of sunsets. This use of color helps to distinguish the settings for the book.
From Lucas’ original draft, you will find everything you love about “Star Wars” to be true from a certain point of view. “The Star Wars” offers a new look at what Lucas’ intent for the movie was. Some changes he made because he never thought he’d be able to tell the whole story in a single movie and some he made because it makes the story better. Rinzler, Mayhew and Beredo get to interpret Lucas’ original ideas and maybe their work will inspire a new galaxy of stories to be explored.