This is an expanded version of an article that appeared on A New Voice last week, regarding the latest iteration of George Lucas’ venerable franchise . . .
How a person feels about Star Wars is probably dependent largely upon when that person was born. For folks old enough to have been a child when the original trilogy was in theaters, Star Wars probably holds a special place in your cultural life experience. If you’re young enough to have seen the prequel trilogy as a child, you’re probably also more willing to give The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones a pass, since you saw them initially with wide-eyed enthusiasm devoid of a cynical edge.
If, however, you fall into that (un)sweet spot between current teenagers and people in their 30s and 40s, your view of the franchise may have dimmed considerably over the course of your lifetime.
If that’s the case, The Star Wars may be for you.
That’s the name of a new Dark Horse Comics eight-issue series, and that’s no typo: The Star Wars, as in the title used in George Lucas’ original draft of the story and script for his first film. The script, which was written in 1974, three years before Star Wars eventually hit theaters, is the source material for Dark Horse’s reimagining of what the Lucas saga might have been like under slightly different real-world circumstances. The story will track Lucas’ film as originally conceived. The series is being published with Lucas’ blessing, consistent with the veteran filmmaker’s less-protective stance toward his intellectual property as he nears retirement.
The comic series will give long-time fans a chance to see the saga as originally conceived by Lucas. The early treatment of the story was more of an “in a perfect world” script, meaning that Lucas was including elements he knew would be too costly to film if the movie actually ever got made, creating a story that is even grander and more ambitious in scope than the groundbreaking Star Wars.
While the universe in which The Star Wars takes place will feel very familiar, many characters and plot points diverge from the more familiar film series. To name just four: Luke Skywalker is an older Jedi general, not an idealistic youth with a mysterious past. Darth Vader is scarred but helmet-less. Han Solo is, well, a non-human creature with green, scaly skin. The Jedi are more like swashbuckling heroes-in-exile than a contemplative religious sect.
The first issue in the series hit shelves and became digitally available on September 3rd, with seven more to follow.
I picked up the digital edition for $3.99, which is probably the first comic book purchase I’ve made since I was 11 or 12. I have to say, I think it’s a very solid purchase for fans. The art style is interesting, and the story is both undeniably Star Wars, yet also distinctly different. There’s much more of a political element, which might scare off people who still have a bad taste in their mouths from Phantom Menace.
Yet, there’s still plenty of action. And the fun of the story unfolding is to see what familiar components remain, and what brand-new elements are in play. I can tell you this much: Making assumptions about how certain characters might be related (and not just in a familial sense) is a mistake.
The Star Wars reminds me of stories we used to hear in the 1980s about Episodes I–III. I guess our parents would read magazine or newspaper articles about Lucas and then spark our imaginations with snippets of information about how Darth Vader became mostly mechanical, or how the story of Star Wars came from a mythical book with the unlikely title of the Journal of the Whills.
In an age before the internet, that kind of word-of-mouth fueled elementary-school cafeteria conversation about the greatest movies ever made (from our perspective at the time). The Star Wars is filled with that sort of proto-version of the story, the kind that might have made it into an offhand quote from Lucas in some random 1982 interview, but only fully realized for the first time now.
Whether you’re in the die-hard apologist camp, or a younger person who never quite understood the “magic” of the series after enduring Jar-Jar Binks, The Star Wars is a chance to revisit the saga at its source.