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Thursday, August 8, 2013

A day or two ago, in a galaxy actually very close...


In a period of summer where the blogger 
has gotten kinda sorta tired of the big two publishers,
he has turned his gaze elsewhere.
Taking a dive into the freshly-rebooted Valiant universe,
he has found a satisfying alternative.

However, old passions begin to stir.
Having been relatively apathetic in recent years,
a sudden reinvigorated interest arises.
Jumping back into the ever-expanding Star Wars universe,
our hero prepares for adventure from a long time ago,
in a galaxy far, far away...

Yes cheesy title crawl that kinda doesn't work but still you can't stop me. Lo and behold, I have recently re-ignited my interest in all things Star Wars. Discussing the movies with a co-worker made me wanna get back into it and all the expanded universe stuff that is a lot of "dumb but awesome at the same time". I even re-installed The Old Republic to dick around with (fem Zabrak Sith Warrior, natch). So today, instead of another DC or Marvel comic (this week didn't have much noteworthy to me, really, ymmv), I'll take a look at the new Star Wars ongoing series from Dark Horse, written by Brian Wood and penciled by Carlos D'Anda (and amazing cover work by the fantastic Alex Ross. Look at that cover! LOOK AT IT!)

This comic was launched late last year, I believe. It is meant to draw in fans of the films while also appealing to the fans who have read all kinds of expanded universe mythos, starring the original heroes Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo. It takes place right after the events of Episode IV; the Rebel Alliance has just succeeded in destroying the Empire's Death Star superweapon, and are in the process of scoping out a new planet to call their base of operations (since their base on Yavin 4 has been compromised, obviously). I have read the first six issues (of which there are 8 so far I think), which basically encompasses the first "arc" in the story ("In the Shadow of Yavin"), although it seems it will be a much longer story than what other publishers define as arcs.

The first issue opens with Luke, Leia, and fellow pilot Wedge Antilles scoping out a planet in the Dominus sector of space. However, they are immediately attacked by an Imperial garrison that just happens to drop out of hyperspace right on top of them. The action begins right off and hooks you in, and we get to see why Leia can be a badass when she wants to be. Here's a spread from the early pages: 

At this point the rebels also face the hot-off-the-assembly-line TIE Interceptor fighters (like the one in the foreground above) that are more advanced than the ones they faced against the Death Star. Escaping in the nick of time the rebels return to their fleet to discuss matters with Mon Mothma, the Rebel's leader. It seems that the Imperial surprise attack could have only been caused by a traitor in the Rebel Alliance, so Mon Mothma gives Leia the go-ahead to set up a sort of black ops X-Wing squad to secretly stake out possible locations for a new Rebel base.

Throughout the first arc there are other sub-plots which hook readers as well. Han Solo is sent by Mon Mothma on a secret mission to Coruscant, the heart of the Empire, to meet with a potential Rebel sympathizer, but things go predictably awry for the smuggler. Darth Vader, recently shamed by his failure at Yavin, is re-assigned by the Emperor to oversee construction of the second Death Star, and we get to see the dynamic between Vader and his replacement on his own flagship. Also we get a possible romance between Luke and a fellow pilot named Prithi, who may have more in common with Luke than they realize.

All in all, this first arc is quite good. While it doesn't wrap up the main points in a neat little box (or at all, yet), it sets up what the comics will be about in the issues to come. So, again, I use the term "arc" loosely. Brian Wood has done some Marvel stuff I am familiar with, notably the current run on Ultimate Comics: X-Men. He accurately brings back the characters from the first film way back in the 70's and gives us more. Since the story focuses on a team of X-Wing fighter pilots, he clearly grasps the naval/techno speak that gives their dialogue meaning. Wood also has some big plans for the series as well. D'Anda's art is crisp and each character is very representative of their film counterparts (when they have them. His unique characters all have that same style to make them significant from one another, although not much of their character has come through quite yet).

What I liked most about this story is the focus on something other than Jedi and Sith and lightsaber wankfests for once. Lucas loves his Jedi, and the over saturated "Clone Wars" is what helped keep me away from Star Wars for a while. Jedi were less the stoic warrior monks from the original trilogy and started becoming more like superhero/Super Saiyan mishmashes except that EVERYBODY was one. Coming back to this is a good start. It gives something familiar and something new. That isn't to say I don't like the whole Jedi/Sith thing. I do. I just got tired of it for a bit. I plan to give Dawn of the Jedi a look, as well as re-read the Knights of the Old Republic comics.

Lastly, I am actually very excited for the upcoming 8-issue limited series The Star Wars. It is a story that is based on George Lucas' original script and vision way back before it became A New Hope. I'll probably review the first issue when it comes out.

So may the Force be with you etcetera etcetera. ;P

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