Okay, so, anything that is branded as Star Wars, in the classroom that is my life, has to really work to lose an “A.” I mean, I basically learned to read by picking up the Star Wars Expanded Universe books (lost interest at the Yuuzhan Vong). So when I tell you that The Star Wars is the worst book I have read in a very, very long time, you will know that I am in no way trifling. The plot of The Star Wars is difficult to describe… It's like an incredibly meandering version of A New Hope, filled with extraneous characters and plotlines. (They fought the Death Star analogue 3 issues ago, but now they’re in Mos Eisley?) As far as a shorthand for analogues in this scenario: Luke Skywalker = Obi-Wan Kenobi, Annikin Starkiller = Innocent Luke Skywalker + Roguish Han Solo, Han Solo = some greenish thing that is just begging DC to sue them for Swamp Thing’s likeness rights, Leia = basically the same, except with way less authority or agency.
Mike Mayhew’s art has been pretty on-point for the run of the series, and this issue is no exception. The clarity of action is all there, but I continue to have a lot of issues with the character designs. I mean, I spent most of the first issue wondering if Annikin was a man or a woman, and if he was a man, was he modeled specifically after Jay Mewes, or was that an unfortunate accident? Otherwise, he’s doing an excellent job quoting some of Ralph McQuarrie’s designs and the original trilogy’s costumes in his own designs for the series.
On to the issue itself: number 5 begins with Annikin, Han, Luke, and their associate Whitsun escorting Leia and her younger twin brothers (in stasis in some sort of canister things—seriously, it’s the worst) through a sort of intergalactic O’Hare International. They’re confronted by a Sith, and they have to fight their way out. You get some classic moments (The “Millennium Falcon” escaping from the “Mos Eisley” hangars), but the issue, like almost all the issues before it, ends in the middle of a thing. It’s not necessarily a dramatic hanger in the middle of the thing, it’s just a like, “Welp, I hit 24 pages, time to type a TO BE CONTINUED.” It doesn’t make dramatic sense. AND THEN, you also have to put up with Annikin and Leia’s “courtship.”
Here’s where I’m pretty sure Rinzler’s not really scripting so much as transcribing, because I have to believe that it’s Lucas’ dialogue when Leia, out of literally nowhere, “I wanted to thank you. I think I… / … love you.” She is saying this to an Annikin (aka older, buffer Jay Mewes in a Luke Skywalker costume). Top of the next page, Annikin rebuffs her with a wooden admonishment to stop acting like a child, to which she replies “Oh! I… hate you!” Top of the next page, and Annikin tells Whitsun (oh poor, enigmatic cipher that is Whitsun), “We’re in love. She loves me, and I just realize— I love her.”
This is the thrust of my review: if this book was not (in name) Star Wars, I wouldn’t piss on it if it was on fire. If this book was Annikin Starkiller and the Order of the Jedi-Bendu, it would be tripe. Since its Star Wars… I mean, shit, at least The Phantom Menace had the common courtesy to be a new story. And if we’re still being honest with ourselves, we all know there’s a reason A New Hope is never one of the options for “What’s the best movie of the original trilogy?” It’s because George Lucas is the quintessential idea-guy and not the write-and-direct guy. This book is basically celebrating all of George Lucas’s first impulses for the story, which, I don’t care who it is, I don’t care if it’s Grant Morrison sticking matchsticks in his eyelids to write Arkham Asylum or Alan Moore becoming a chaos magician to finish From Hell, your first draft is a DRAFT. It needs REFINING.
Some of this stuff might be fun to hear an oral history of over a beer (“Did you hear that originally Han Solo was going to be the Swamp Thing, basically? Total insanity”), but at the end of the day, it’s a book full of failed ideas. But this book is the worst kind of fan service. You’re not giving the fans what they are clamoring for; you’re giving the fans what you have lying around, and for that, I am saddened and slightly offended, Dark Horse.
The highest/faintest praise I can give this book is that thank god Dark Horse is getting it out of the way now so that Marvel won’t have to do it once the licensing reverts back to them.
Scrip: J.W. Rinzler Artist: Mike Mayhew Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/5/14