If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ve doubtlessly seen the original Ralph McQuarrie concept art for Episode IV, featuring images such as a duel between Darth Vader and a gas mask-wearing Luke Skywalker, lightsaber wielding Stormtroopers, and a very Metropolis-inspired C-3PO paired with a multi-armed R2-D2.
While George Lucas’s original script for The Star Wars went through many revisions – reassigning names, adding or subtracting characters, moving locations, etc. – the core of the iconic space opera has always remained the same. A band of Rebels, led by some remarkable heroes, stands up to the evil Empire in order to restore freedom to the galaxy. However, this original story, brought to the pages of Dark Horse comics by scribe J.W. Rinzler, feels noticeably grander in scale, adding a much more prevalent political theme, establishing a more militant group of Jedi, and introducing several more characters than you’d expect from the first installment. It also clearly retains the original inspiration Lucas drew from Flash Gordon serials, both thematically and aesthetically. This version’s Emperor even has a mustache reminiscent of Ming the Merciless. I’m curious how much is the story is George Lucas and how much is Rinzler’s interpretation.
Artist Mike Mayhew (no relation to Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew) echoes the style of Ralph McQuarrie’s original painted concept art for the Star Wars films, but deviates enough to give it a unique appearance, much different from Carlos D’Anda’s and Ryan Kelly’s approaches in Dark Horse’s ongoing Star Wars series. Many of Mayhew’s artistic choices for technology and costume designs resemble familiar Star Wars aesthetics, but it’s unclear if that was his choice in order to establish a visual connection, or if these were always existing designs.
With Episode VII on the way from Disney, and Dark Horse also fleshing out the time between Episodes IV and V, it’s a great time for new Star Wars stories. The Star Wars, of course, is a totally unique approach, with only the slightest connections to what we’ve come know and love. Any Star Wars fan should dive into this alternate history of the events that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It’s shaping up to be quite the memorable adventure.
The Star Wars #1 is available today!