Thursday, 15 January 2015

New Beginnings - Star Wars #1 (Marvel)

by Matt Puddy

Iconic opening lines to one of the most well known science fiction films in history. Also the line emblazoned on the first page of this week’s new beginning.

In fact you could also see this comic as a homecoming as this is a brand new Star Wars comic back once again with Marvel. From 1977 to 1987, Marvel produced a 107 issue comic series which loosely followed the original films. During this time it was rumoured to have had such strong sales that it kept Marvel financially afloat. A few years later Dark Horse gained the license and took a more creative approach opening up much richer back stories to main characters as well as introducing new arcs, side characters and areas of the Star Wars universe. Now, with the Star Wars and Marvel brands both part of the Disney family, the circle is now complete and Jason Aaron takes the helm to pen new tales from the galaxy.

From the outset you know exactly where you stand with the cover depicting all of the well loved characters - well the good guys that is anyway (on the cover designed by John Cassaday). The comic then opens with as close to the cinematic experience as the printed medium can. The huge Star Wars sign followed by the implied scrolling prologue breaks you in nicely. Set after the Death Star has been destroyed, the Rebels are moving onto new targets in an attempt to beat the Empire.

The setting is Cymoon 1 the largest munitions factory supporting the Empire’s war effort, and the loveable rogue Han Solo is the man with the plan. Infiltrating the site under the banner of Jabba the Hutt, all seems to be going well and the destruction of the base looks imminent, but where is the fun if it was that simple!? Things start to go wrong when it transpire they Empire uses slaves there and Luke’s instincts draw him away, only to be followed up with catastrophic news. The negotiator has arrived and it’s none other than Darth Vader himself. A botched assassination attempt, the Millennium Falcon being slowly dismantled and ultimately a showdown between Vader and Luke. It’s a whole film is just a few pages complete with a huge cliffhanger.

As mentioned previously John Cassaday is the artist for the issue and it’s great. So great in fact that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford owe him a lot for turning back the clock and giving the readers such fresh faced and youthful depictions of them all. If anything this helps support the comic's place in the chronological order of Star Wars even further, as it dates it all so well. Strangely though one of my favourite panels was when the team discover the hold of AT-AT’s. Aside from the cheeky demeanour from Solo, Cassady also lovingly renders the vehicles and tech as well as he depicts any of the original cast! Classic images given to the reader with strong fine line work – what isn’t to like about this?

Without being a massive Star Wars fan, even I can’t find much fault with this issue. It’s well drawn and well written. The combination sweeps it along at a great pace and is a lot of fun. You constantly find yourself hearing the tonal inflections, the attitude and most of all the well known voices from the films.

It’s a cracking first issue that any reader, fan or otherwise, will enjoy.

Matt Puddy is not the droid you're looking for. Move along.

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