This is not your father’s Star Wars: it’s your alternative red-tinged universe’s father’s Star Wars. The Star Wars has taken George Lucas’s original rough draft screenplay of A New Hope and has been translated into a comic by writer J.W. Rinzler and artist Mike Mayhew. The names are similar and so is the basic galaxy but otherwise, this is absolutely a different story.
It is a somewhat familiar tale at the start: the Jedi-Bendu are all but extinct as the Knights of Sith hunt them down for being enemies of the New Empire. Jedi Kane Starkiller and his two sons are on the run while the Emperor announces to defeat the last frontier and conqueror the final refuge for the Jedi: the Aquilaean system. King Kayos of Aquilas prepares for war along with General Skywalker. In the midst of all this, the Princess Leia leaves the palace for her studies and Starkiller arrives on Aquilas with a plea to Skywalker.
This first issue is very much about exposition and establishing this alternative universe and yet it never feels boring. If nothing else, the familiar names and places that continuously pop up in different ways than fans know them will definitely keep readers intrigued. The elements and archetypes are familiar but they’re put together in a completely different order. I’m actually mostly unfamiliar with the original script aside from the basics but Rinzler has definitely done a good job with his translation. He manages to make you care about some of these new characters in just a few short pages and to hook your interest by the final page.
The artwork by Mike Mayhew with colors by Rain Beredo is a perfect fit for the story. It gives it that very classic and almost retro feel while still being dynamic. Seeing all the visual changes and tweaks from the original script is fascinating. Characters like the stormtroopers and Darth Vader and ships like the Star Destroyers look both familiar and yet quite different. It helps establish the story as being in its own universe and they even include a few pages in the back with sketches and commentary on “redesigning a universe.” Princess Leia will still look familiar to readers with her double hair buns while characters like Darth Vader present more of a mental what if? scenario.
At the end of the day, The Star Wars is a visual treat with a “new” twist on a story we all know so well. Is it essential reading for all Star Wars fans? No. Was the first issue enjoyable and does it warrant a read if you’re even the least bit intrigued? Absolutely.