Brian Wood and Carlos D'Anda go back to the roots of the galactic pop culture legend in Dark Horse Comics' "Star Wars" #1. While there is plenty of buzz about the purchase of the Lucasfilm brand and the upcoming seventh film in the Star Wars series, this issue reaches back a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away and sets up the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Leia Organa in the months immediately following the Battle of Yavin at the end of "A New Hope."
From the first scene in this new series, it is not hard to imagine playing Star Wars action figures with Wood sometime back in my childhood. That unbridled imagination, energy and excitement is exactly what Wood brings to this story. How else can you explain the notion of having Princess Leia fly an X-Wing (which Wood checks his geek cred by having Leia refer to it as an "Incom T-65") alongside Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles as those two veterans of the Death Star dogfight seek out an appropriate planet to serve as a new base for the Rebel Alliance. The bulk of the issue features Luke and Leia. Wood is careful to slowly construct their relationship, outlining the personalities and painting in a little depth. The writer also provides enough samples of Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, Mon Mothma, Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine to confirm for readers that he's more than up for the task ahead. With plenty of panel time for Leia, and a fair amount of reflection and adaptation for Luke, Wood sets these characters, who readers all know and love, up for episodic growth. Wood even delivers Han Solo saying, "I have a bad feeling about this."
Some of the elements of the story are a little contrived or hastily handled, but I'll take three X-Wings evading a Star Destroyer and a squadron of TIE fighters to get a story that celebrates the heart of "Star Wars."
D'Anda's art is nowhere near as meticulous as the cover from Alex Ross, but the likenesses are close enough, albeit stylized. Some of those translate better, but Darth Vader looks like a reinterpreted version of the classic character based more on Ralph McQuarrie's concepts while C-3PO's midsection is indistinct enough to almost blend into the background. These, like the ease of escape in the X-Wing skirmish, are minor hiccups that are quickly forgotten or accepted. Gabe Eltaeb's colors are nicely matched to the story and characters and the visuals are completed by Michael Heisler's lettering.
As a progeny of the first trilogy and someone who still refers to "Episode IV" as "Star Wars," this book is exactly what I didn't realize I've been missing so very, very badly. Reading the story and absorbing the art, I couldn't help but be immersed in memories of my youth, however, picking this book up was more electric than finding the old Marvel Comics series.
This is a solid introduction to the universe through Brian Wood's point of view. It presumes some pre-existing knowledge, but not much, and wastes no time breaking out the stars and firing up the action. I'm not sure what the recent business transaction of the Lucasfilm properties means exactly for Dark Horse's publication of Star Wars comics, but for now, I'm really glad we've got this book.