Welcome… For a Special News Report.
My name is Tom VanZandt, Host of the So Wizard Podcast, child of the 1970’s and an unabashed Star Wars Nerd. First off, let me warn you that I’ve written the following review for my fellow Star Wars fans. If you are not familiar with the name “Tatooine”, you think that a Lightsaber is nothing more than a “laser sword” or you have never felt an excited chill upon hearing the opening note of the Star Wars Main Title theme… This review is probably not your cup of Blue milk.
When Disney bought Lucasfilm back in 2012, my first thought was “Holy Shit! They are going to make more Star Wars movies!!!” Followed by my next thought, “I really hope they don’t ruin this franchise!” It then occurred to me that the Star Wars license would soon return to Marvel Comics, which had produced the original Star Wars Comic Books that I collected back in the 70’s and 80’s and was also now owned by Disney. Although I was a fan of Marvel’s first comic series based on that Galaxy far, far away, in retrospect, I have to admit that some of their creative choices make JarJar Binks seem like a great idea… Anyone else remember “Jax” the Giant Green Rabbit? Needless to say, after learning that this new Marvel Star Wars series was going to be considered Canon and part of the overall story continuity and mythos, I was a bit apprehensive and couldn’t help but think “I’ve got a Bad feeling about this.”
Flash forward to Wednesday, January 14, 2015 and the release of Star Wars #1 by Marvel Comics. I stopped by my local comic shop, paid my $4.99 ( Yes, the first issue is a pricey one ) and started to read this highly anticipated book. About halfway through the comic, any “Bad feelings” I may have had were put to rest. My first thought? “This FEELS like Star Wars.” The story told by Jason Aaron is well thought out, interesting and has that element of fun that I was hoping for. Also exceeding my expectations, the artwork provided by John Cassaday looks great. Rather than give us an inappropriately stylized version of the Star Wars universe, Cassaday keeps his take simple, yet detailed and familiar, which perfectly compliments the look and feel of the original movie trilogy. I have to applaud Marvel and Lucasfilm for not attempting to reinvent the wheel with this book.
So what’s it about? Without spoiling the entire book for you, this story picks up right where Star Wars: A New Hope left off… “It is a period of renewed hope for the Rebellion. The Evil Galactic Empire’s greatest weapon, the Death Star, has been destroyed by the young Rebel pilot, Luke Skywalker. With the Imperial forces in disarray, the Rebels look to press their advantage by unleashing a daring offensive across the far reaches of space, hoping to defeat the Empire once and for all and at last restore freedom to the Galaxy.” The very first comic panel shows us the deep, dark void of Space, followed by a picture of a ship, which resembles Jabba the Hutt’s Desert Sail Barge from Tatooine, entering view and approaching a planet. Visualizing this entire page of art as a movie scene in my mind, it perfectly matched and complimented the opening scene of the actual Star Wars movies. The Tatooine Shuttle is given clearance to land as we learn that the planet is called Cymoon 1, is part of the Corellian Industrial Cluster and is home to an Imperial Weapons Factory. The ship lands at the factory and is met by an Imperial Officer, Stormtroopers and a familiar Bounty Hunter.
Apparently, as a result of the Death Star’s destruction, the Empire is in desperate need of resources and is being forced to “negotiate” with Crime Lord Jabba the Hutt to obtain the raw materials it requires. What the Empire doesn’t realize is that the Rebel Fleet had intercepted the true emissary sent by Jabba and replaced him with the one and only Han Solo; small-time smuggler, Galactic pirate and new ally of the Rebellion. The Officer informs Captain Solo that the Empire’s Negotiator will join him shortly but Han and his two “bodyguards” can’t wait and, with the help of R2-D2, incapacitate the Imperial troops. The bodyguards unmask to reveal that they are actually Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa and they join Han Solo in seeking out the Factory’s Main Power Core. At the same time, an Imperial Shuttle arrives and we find out that the negotiator is none other than the evil Sith Lord, Darth Vader. After learning of Vader’s arrival, things quickly go south for our Rebel friends. Luke rushes to find the man that he believes killed his Father while Han, Leia and R2 commandeer an Imperial AT-AT Walker to make their escape. Does Luke finally meet and confront Darth Vader? Will Han and the others find the Power Core and destroy the Weapons factory? Is this Comic Book an excellent addition to the Star Wars continuity? I encourage you to pick up Star Wars #1 by Marvel Comics and find out for yourself! While you’re at it, treat yourself and get Darth Vader #1 as well. Written by Keiron Gillen and drawn by Salvador Larocca, the story follows Vader immediately after the events that take place at the Factory on Cymoon 1 and we see just how Emperor Palpatine deals with Darth Vader’s apparent failure.
It’s safe to say that after reading these books I’m convinced, for now, that the Star Wars property is in very good hands at Marvel Comics and Disney. My hope is that they continue to play with well known Star Wars themes and avoid diluting the rich and beloved mythology with characters and ideas that just don’t fit the mold of that Galaxy far, far away. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen enough of that with all of the mediocre “Expanded Universe” Lucasfilm has created over the last 30 years.
Thanks for reading and May the Force Be With You!