Script: JW Rinzler
Art: Mike Mayhew
Colors: Rain Beredo
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Nick Runge
George Lucas’ first draft story for Star Wars enters it’s final chapter. Princess Leia has been captured by the Empire and the future of the planet Aquilae hangs in the balance. On the jungle planet of Yavin, General Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Annikin Starkiller have put into motion a most tricky and dangerous mission to save the princess, the planet and maybe even the galaxy as a whole.
Annikin has snuck aboard the Not Death Star, the Imperial Space Fortress, disguised as one of the Empire’s troopers. However, he quickly realizes the problems with wearing armor. He is not nearly as successful in his disguise as his alternate universe self will be. As someone who has worn Stormtrooper armor and is painfully aware of it’s limitations, I probably laughed more in this scene than most. But it’s a funny, action packed opening that sets the tone for the rest of the issue.
This issue is all about the action. This is the big climatic finish to the story. Annikin sneaking aboard the Space Fortress is just the first part of the plan. The second phase of the battle is a fighter attack on the fortress itself.
The space battle is the most unique part of the story. It plays out much like the Death Star battle we are all familiar with, but I did find myself questioning more than once the idea of having primitive Wookiees piloting fighters in battle against seasoned Imperial pilots, and winning. I’m not sure if this is a comment on the power of the primitives and not underestimating someone or if this is more of a statement on the Imperial forces themselves and how they lack true heart or will. This is one part that I’m glad got changed in subsequent drafts. Although seeing the Y-wings painted up with Wookiee tribal nose art is pretty great.
Back on the Space Fortress a new twist is added in as Annikin has been captured and is being interrogated by the Sith Knight Valorum. This is probably the most confusing part of the story. The Sith Knight’s motivation is never clear and it doesn’t seem to take much to get him to change his allegiance. Soon he is fighting side by side with Annikin, filling the Han Solo role through much of the rescue of Princess Leia and escape from the Death Star/Space Fortress. I found myself re-reading several pages wondering if it was me, that I missed some crucial explanation. Again, this is a limitation of the story being told here, it’s still only a first draft.
Mike Mayhew’s art continues to shine here. His art and layouts give us both the iconic moments from A New Hope and the conceptual ideas of Ralph McQuarrie’s work. His final pages are beautiful and cinematic.
This final chapter closes the book on what could’ve been. It is a very different story from the one that we know and love, but it’s also very familiar and we can see the roots from whence the story grew. Now that the story is complete, I am looking forward to reading it all in one sitting. As much as Lucas was inspired by the serials of his youth, I’m not sure if this book worked as well as a serial versus a single telling. Some of the pacing and story issues may not feel as awkward when the story is viewed as a whole. I hope we see more of these kinds of risks taken in the future of the ever expanding universe of Star Wars stories.
Advanced Review Copy (ARC) courtesy of Dark Horse. All staff members can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.