Star Wars #1 is the story of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa/Skywalker, and Darth Vader following the events of the George Lucas film A New Hope. As Luke and Leia seek out a new home for the Rebellion they are ambushed by Imperial forces, forcing Leia to become an undercover "spykiller." Meanwhile, the Empire rebounds from the devastating loss of the Death Star (which interestingly is put entirely on the shoulders of Grand Moff Tarkin).
The first thing I noticed about this book is that I really like the art. One of the challenges of telling new stories of characters from film or television is deciding whether to make the characters look exactly like the actors who play them or to use your own style to draw the character as you see them. Carlos D'Anda succeeds at the latter in much the same way that other great comic book continuations like Buffy the Vampire Slayer have before this.
The writing on the other hand is somewhat lacking. Brian Wood is much like George Lucas. He is pretty good at laying down a general story that will be compelling, but he has some difficulty when it comes to dialogue. With many of the speech bubbles, I found myself thinking, "I can't imagine Luke saying anything like that." Wood has some talent, but right now the only reason I can find to read this book is the promise that is brought to it by the already established characters.
There are a couple of things that are worthy of note in Star Wars #1. I thoroughly enjoyed that the predominant perspective of the first issues was that of Princess Leia. It drove home the gravity of Leia's position. She is the princess of a recently destroyed planet and leader of the Rebels who wish to take down the Empire, not to mention a pilot and a fighter. If we weren't so mystified by the force in the original trilogy and Luke's hero quest, it would be obvious to us that Leia is the most important character in this universe, save for maybe her old man. In this book, Leia shows a lot of the qualities that her mother Queen Amidala showed in the prequel trilogy (which I think was better at portraying an empowered woman than Lucas's original second act). In this issue, we begin to understand the pressure on Leia.
The best moment, however, was when Darth Vader reflected momentarily on the meaning of his defeat at the hands of one named Luke Skywalker. Wood's subtlety leaves the reader wondering if this is the seed that will ultimately bear fruit in Return of the Jedi when the Emperor's dog turns on his Master. It feels like Anakin Skywalker can feel his blood again, can remember that he is the last remaining member of the Jedi council.
Ultimately, I am left wondering why this volume was published and why it was released now. For the last few years, Dark Horse has been releasing plenty of Star Wars mini-series with subtitle after subtitle after subtitle, and I've found myself unable to connect to many of the characters who weren't depicted on the big screen. But now Disney has made a plan to release more Star Wars films and Dark Horse is starting to fill in some of the blanks. Is this book a set-up for these movies or will the movies contradict what is contained within? A book like Star Wars feels like it is canon, but strict canonists understand only the movies, the two cartoons, one video game and one book to be canon. (Am I missing something?)
The main reason I am going to keep reading this book is because it is about characters I love. The secondary reason is because I'm intrigued to see how some of the issues that begin in this issue will turn out. The next couple issues will decide whether this comic is really worth all the hype. I'm hopeful.