Note the definite article. This isn’t Star Wars as you know and (perhaps) love it. This is something else entirely. And the reading of it will probably make you feel two things. First, a sense of wonder at what Star Wars might have been. And second, profound relief at the fact that the script was rewritten.
If you’ve seen Empire of Dreams, the documentary about the making of Star Wars, you may have some context to this already. When talking about script and story revisions, the narrator mentions that at one point during the rewrite, Luke Skywalker was a 60-year old General, and Han Solo had green skin and gills.
This is that story.
And here they are. In the centre is Luke, to his right is *shudder* Han Solo, and to his left is Princess Leia.
Heh. That’s something isn’t it? If you had a bit of a ‘Holy shit!’ moment right there, you’ll find plenty more when you read the entire book.
Mind you, it isn’t an especially fascinating story. In fact, if anything, it comes across as slightly more convoluted than the prequel trilogy – but certainly not as bad as all of the Trade Federation’s ridiculousness. But for a fan of Star Wars, it’s a fairly intriguing look at what beloved characters might have been and how different a direction the franchise might have taken.
Many familiar names and faces are here, but entirely different from the way we know them. Luke is very much a Jedi but a fully trained and extremely formidable one. Vader is neither Darth nor Sith; he is Luke’s opposite in the Empire, a General himself and not a wielder of the Force. Annikin is a separate person entirely, surnamed Starkiller, and is not related at all to either Luke or Vader. Han is some sort of frog-fish creature; the less I say of him the better. Sith are common as well; the comic opens with one and the Emperor does not seem to have force powers of his own.
As a small aside: Lightsabers are much more common than I expected; even Stormtroopers swing what seem to be largely ineffectual versions of the weapons – doing about as much damage with them as they do with their blasters in the movies.
But what I found especially interesting was how it hints at the path to what eventually became the six Star Wars movies. The Jedi Purge is mentioned; cloning technology is referenced; there’s a hilariously random romance between Annikin and Leia, which I imagine metamorphosed into the Anakin-Padme romance of the prequels; there’s a scene in a trash compactor; there is a Death Star and it blows up. Even the Ewoks-make-C3PO-their-god scene has a variant here; Annikin has much the same experience with the wookies.
Yet, for all of the similarities, it lacks the spirit of the original trilogy, something which after years and years of rewatching, I am yet to understand well enough to articulate to someone who doesn’t know the movies.
Perhaps I should only say this – Star Wars can make (and has made) me believe in magic. This version of it doesn’t. Because this just below, this is Star Wars
So, to sum this up …
Whether or not you buy this comic depends on how much of a Star Wars fan you are. If you love the movies and watch the featurettes and documentaries, this is an interesting look behind the scenes at how the story of Star Wars evolved with rewrites. How the excess was pared away – very well, I must say – until the core of the story was discovered along with the characters essential to it, and then the movie built around that.
With that as your perspective, this is a story that you probably won’t find elsewhere. Certainly not in this form.
But if you’re not a fan of Star Wars, I can’t imagine you’ll find much to enjoy here. The experience isn’t compelling, the characters aren’t very well fleshed out, and the story felt primitive in a way that I imagine an early draft of a script would.
So if you love Star Wars, give this a look. If not, there are plenty of comics out there much more deserving of your time and energy. If you’re interested, though, you can get it here, on Amazon.
As comics go, it isn’t especially impressive. The art is stellar throughout, evoking Star Wars in a way that the story simply does not.
For someone uninterested in Star Wars, the book certainly won’t do much. But for a fan of the saga, it’s a fascinating look at what might have been – and that’s the only reason I have to recommend it.