I hold in my hot little hands (okay, my cotton gloved little hands) a shiny new comic book--the first issue of Dark Horse Comics' adaptation of George Lucas' orginal script treatment "The Star Wars." This would be re-written to become the movie that launched a thousand ships. It takes place longer ago, in a galaxy even further away...
I have long speculated on how Lucas' earliest vision for his series might have looked, and so it was with no small measure of eager astonishment that I learned of the upcoming release of a comic book series based on the orginal script. I had assumed that, after the prequels, Lucas had destroyed the script so there would be no evidence countering his mythology about the Skywalker/Vader family. A good friend of mine scored me a copy, since there are no comic book shops out here in the sticks, and for some unknown reason, I couldn't find any for sale on line for less that $25.
The comic is not worth $25, but it's certainly worth its $3.99 cover price.
First off, the artwork is exceptional. The glossy pages are thick and durable. Taking inspiration from the concept art by Ralph McQuarrie, artist Mike Mayhew has done a dazzling job with photorealistic drawings wonderfully colored by Rain Beredo. This is eye candy of the highest magnitude.
On the down side...the book is too short, containing about eighteen pages of actual story. Since it's setting up the world--and working from a "script treatment," also known as a synopsis--the opening story is a bit disjointed and difficult to get into.
There is a familiar feel to the story, naturally, but it's also quite different than the "Star Wars" we all know. Luke Skywalker is an aged Jedi General who bears an uncanny resemblance to George Lucas. He will probably function as the Ben Kenobi role, while his padewan will be Annikin, the teenaged son of Skywalker's old friend, Kane Starkiller. Kane is not up to the job of completing Annikin's training due to, shall we say, failing health (I'll try to avoid spoilers here!) and an unhealthy case of disillusionment.
The New Empire is based on Alderaan, and has at its disposal sleek, two-man Stardestroyers (one word) that look exactly like the ginormous versions from the movie, only apparently this Emperor doesn't need to compensate for anything yet. The Emperor, who looks a LOT like Ming the Merciless, appoints Governor Hoedaak First Lord of the Aquilean System, which is a hold-out of resistance to the Empire. Hoedaack has the assistance of the hulking General Darth Vader, who is scarred but not encapsulated in a respirator helmet.
Aquilae is the home world of King Kayos and Queen Brecca, who are not only trying to figure out how they can get allies to help them resist the encroachment of the Emperor, but are sending their eldest daughter, Princess Leia, off to college. In this story, Leia has a number of younger siblings, among them two brothers named Biggs and Windy. A lot of the character names got recycled for entirely different characters in the movie-- Biggs was a pilot chum of Luke's, and Windy and Deak (the name of Kane Starkiller's younger son) were Luke's friends at Anchorhead--which is also used for a different location in the comic book. (Don't worry, it's more fun than confusing to keep track of the "early versions" of the names.)
Some new concepts are a gelatinous alien named Vantos Coll, who warns Hoedaack and Vader about the dangers of the few remaining Jedi-Bendu warriors still loose in the galaxy, and the Trade Guild of the prequels pops up when the Empire rounds up all the frigate captains for some as-yet-unspecified reason.
At the end of the book are several pages of starship designs that walk the fine line between "new and original" and "old and familiar." The floating city of Alderaan is clearly the inspiration for/inspired by Bespin, for instance.
I'm looking forward to the rest of this series. It's fun to see into an alternate universe, and I'm wondering how many plot points remained the same from the first to the final version.