Script: J.W. Rinzler
Art: Mike Mayhew
Colors: Rain Beredo
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Nick Runge
The battle over Aquilae has ended, the rebellious forces led by Jedi General Skywalker have been defeated by the Empire and the might of their Space Fortress. One lone escape pod was launched after the battle, carrying two seemingly unimportant droids. It crash landed on the surface of the planet below.
Issue #3 opens with a McQuarrie painting come to life as we watch See Threepio and Artwo Detwo emerge from the escape pod on the edge of the Dune Sea of Aquilae. I was immediately struck by how different the droids play when you don’t have Anthony Daniels’ british butler Threepio, but you do have an Artwo who can talk. Although Threepio is no less out of place in the desert.
Mike Mayhew’s art continues to bring out the best from Ralph McQuarrie’s concept paintings and the roots of George Lucas’ influences with a great retro sci-fi feel to the vehicles. The speeder that Annikin Starkiller and Princess Leia ride around in would be equally at home in a Flash Gordon serial or a Jetson’s cartoon.
The main action set piece of this issue is the Imperial stormtroopers attack on the Jedi and royal forces on Aquilae. Hundreds of stormtroopers led by Count Sandage think they have caught Luke Skywalker off guard, but they quickly learn that he is a warrior and not one to be trifled with. He outmaneuvers the Imperial forces and denies them access to the hidden fortress and it’s secrets. Annikin even proves himself as a promising young warrior.
Seeing a battalion of stormtroopers with lightsabers riding an ostrich like animal, much like the kaadu that the Gungans would later ride, followed by stormtroopers on flying vehicles we would later call STAPs is pretty incredible. There are recognizable names, themes and designs all over this book. Mayhew and Rinzler have shown us that many of the designs and themes we would later know from the prequel trilogy have their roots back in the original drafts of A New Hope.
I really can’t read this book without comparing it to the film on some level or another. I believe this issue is the furthest we have seen from anything recognizable in the film. These scenes and plot lines were either heavily reworked or dropped entirely. The only exception being the droids in the desert. However, this book is exciting enough and strong enough to enjoy entirely on it’s own.
Advanced Review Copy (ARC) courtesy of Dark Horse. All staff members can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.