Until the recent great rebellion, the Jedi-Bendu were the most feared warriors in the universe. For one hundred thousand years, generations of Jedi perfected their art as the personal bodyguards of the Emperor. They were the chief architects of the invincible Imperial space force, which expanded the Empire across the galaxy, from the celestial equator to the reaches of the Great Rift.
Now these legendary warriors are all but extinct. One by one they have been hunted down and destroyed as enemies of the New Empire by a ferocious and sinister rival warrior sect, the Knights of the Sith.
Join scripter J.W. Rinzler, artist Mike Mayhew, colourist Rain Beredo, letterer Michael Heisler and cover artists Nick Rudge, Jan Duursema and Doug Wheatley as we embark upon a strange yet familiar journey.
Ok, let’s not beat around the bush. This past 8 days have been an absolute treat for Star Wars fans. With John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi and now Rinzler and Mayhew’s The Star Wars we’re in the midst of a high-watermark of story and art quality that’s tough to beat in any era of Star Wars history, and if that comment nails my colours to the mast then so be it. Kenobi rocked, and The Star Wars is an absolute delight.
Kicking off the story with a classic style scroll-up laying out the cornerstones of the story (rebellion, Jedi-Bendu, Imperial Space Force, Knights of the Sith) we dive right into the action on the world of Utapau (an old name Lucas used in his early drafts that he pulled out for Revenge of the Sith) and join brothers Annikin and Deak and their father Kane Starkiller as they are happened upon by a mysterious warrior. The younger boy Deak (imagine Anakin at the age he was in The Phantom Menace) is killed, the elder brother fights the sith before the warrior is sliced in half Maul-style by their father. Coming right from the rough draft of The Star Wars from May 1974 we are in proto-Star Wars territory, with familiar early versions of our intrepid heroes and beloved locations at play. All is different and yet the same.
Leaving the grieving father and son we move across the galaxy where four Star Destroyers, fighters in this iteration from the Imperial Third Fleet blast across the skies of Alderaan. The Emperor prepares to address the crowds, where he promises to take the world of Aquilae, the last independent system and destroy the outlawed Jedi Knights. The players are the same, the stakes somewhat different and it’s exciting to see how these could have played out in an alternate manner. We meet a very different Darth Vader, a general without the importance of our classic trilogy counterpart. We learn that taking Aquilae will not be an easy task.
A meeting regarding the situation is in progress, interrupted by General Skywalker, the legendary warrior of the Jedi with a fearsome reputation. The leaders of Aquilae are nervous, but it is decided that a delegation must go to Alderaan to discuss the treaty. Young Leia is preparing to leave the Palace of Lite on Aquilae to travel for her studies as below the planet the war room makes it’s plans and tracks enemy movements. Starkiller and the elder General Luke Skywalker are reunited, and it’s quickly evident that these Jedi are not the reserved, considered characters that we know from the films but rowdy war dogs, regretful that they are among the few remaining Jedi left. But Starkiller hides a secret. His will is weak and it’s revealed that he is ‘more machine than man, only his head and arm remain, the rest replaced by machinery. He pleads that Luke train Annakin in his stead, as a warning of an incoming threat ends the issue.
As a first issue it’s a winner, bringing the reader right into the action via absolutely beautiful artwork from Mike Mayhew. The script is practically identical to the rough draft script, deftly tweaked by Rinzler to condense the story into comic form but not rushing itself. By the final panel we are only on scene 17 of the script. The feel of the art is European, very Heavy Metal, unsurprising given Lucas’ influences back when he was writing those first few drafts of the story. Names we have grown up with litter the story; Tarkin, Utapau, Aquilae, Anchorhead, star destroyers, Annikin, Starkiller, and they ground us in this fresh take on the classic story.
There’s no reason not to think that this will equal Brian Wood’s Star Wars as the top Star Wars series of 2013. For those of us who’ve had copies of this script for many, many years it’s invigorating to see that script brought to life and the second issue cannot come quickly enough, as it brings with it a green-gilled Han Solo, some inappropriate padawan dalliances and much, much more.