The Empire Strikes in the second issue of The Star Wars as Jonathan Rinzler and Mike Mayhew continue to tell and adapt the story of George Lucas’s original draft.
That’s no moon that’s rapidly approaching the planet of Aquilae. The Empire has made its move and now General Luke Skywalker is scrambling to get the war codes from King Kayos so he can mount a proper defense. Meanwhile, Annikin Starkiller is sent to retrieve the recently departed Princess Leia and bring her back safely from school. General Darth Vader presses the Empire’s attack and things are not looking well for Aquilae or for two familiar looking droids who’ve found themselves in the middle of the space battle.
One of the things that makes this book fun is how Rinzler isn’t afraid toss in a familiar iconic line or at least an incredibly strong allusion to one. The story feels distinctly different enough from the A New Hope we all know and love that the sly little nods are a nice little tie back instead of feeling groan worthy. We also get to see snippets of scenes that survived from the rough draft into the final film which are another element that helps readers remember that this is a sort of alternative universe Star Wars. Overall, Rinzler’s writing is a definite check mark in the positives column.
Mike Mayhew continues to be the perfect choice to draw this book. His clean lines and overall art style give that slightly retro feel to it. It meshes well with its status as the adaptation of a rough draft. The costume design is also quite fabulous. In particular, General Skywalker’s uniform stands out. It’s not terribly similar to the Jedi robes but still manages to have a similar feel while looking cool. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a cosplayer or two sporting the look at future conventions. Leia’s outfit is another standout with a corset element to her look that almost feels like a steampunk influence but still fits with the overall outfit to give off that ‘Princess of Aquilae at her university’ vibe. There is nothing negative that I could possibly say about this art.
The characters are definitely one of the most intriguing aspects of the book though. We’re only two issues in and I’m already finding myself to be quite fond of this older Jedi General version of Luke Skywalker. He’s definitely not a farmboy but rather an established and respected leader. Princess Leia is perhaps the least changed from the films and is her usual stubborn yet sassy self and is a nice thread of continuity. On the other hand, we have Annikin Starkiller who is, for a lack of a better term, infuriating. His people skills seem to be a bit… ahhh… questionable.
Above all though, it was fun to see Threepio and Artoo for the first time. It’s really quite strange seeing Artoo with dialogue instead of beeps and deets. We seem to be heading towards a part of the story that we’re more familiar with so I look forward to seeing how their part in the story changes with no Obi-Wan Kenobi and no farmboy Luke Skywalker to carry the story along.
Again, I recommend picking up this book if the concept even remotely intrigues you. Rinzler and Mayhew are making it worth it. (And hey: if you needed another reason, context clues indicated that we’ll be meeting Han Solo soon.)