This month, The Star Wars #4 by J.W. Rinzler and Mike Mayhew continues the adaptation of George Lucas’ original rough draft for what eventually became Star Wars. Thus far, we’ve seen a blend of unique occurrences and familiar moments fleshing out this previously unfinished tale, but at the same time, the “rough draft” that birthed this story has been exactly that.
Issue #4maintains the grandiose scope of the planet-wide struggle between Aquilae and the Empire, but some classic moments from Star Warslore fill out this month’s story, taking the reader back to a most wretched hive of scum and villainy. We are also finally introduced to this story’s version of Han Solo, a far more gregarious take on the scruffy-looking smuggler, but this time around he bares more of a resemblance to Swamp Thing than Indiana Jones. With Agent Whitesun filling the role of the dashing rogue, it looks like this Han Solo is pulling double duty as both the Han and Chewie analog as well.
With regard to the story as a whole, we have to remember that The Star Warsis a direct adaptation from an unfinished product. As with any first draft, it might lack the development and growth one would see after rewrites and later drafts. While this series has been entertaining in its own right, it exists as a series of sequences that remained untouched all the way until the production of the film combined with somewhat flat, underdeveloped characters doing a lot of talking and occasionally taking part in a brief moment of lightsaber swinging.
J.W. Rinzlerhas done an admirable job adapting the unfinished story, but one cannot help but wonder how much is Lucas and how much is Rinzler. Moments like Princess Leia’s twins brothers bursting into song while escaping an Imperial patrol completely take the reader out of the story, and Annikin Skywalker, continuing to be utterly useless, furthers the belief that these characters need some more time to cook.
ArtistMike Mayhewcontinues to paint this alternate universe in a way that honors artist Ralph McQuarrie. With an excess of multi-paneled sequences showcasing Luke Skywalker cleaving stormtroopers with his lightsaber, Mayhew has plenty to work with, even if the substance is lacking. However, he seems to have just a bit too much fun illustrating Kane Starkiller ripping off his clothes to reveal that he is mostly bionic. We saw the dramatic reveal at the end of issue #1, and we see it again in #4…as if we forgot. It’s an odd moment in terms of how it is portrayed, but the sharp-eyed Star Wars fan will see how the moment parallels what we know from the beloved film.
The Star Wars #4 feels very much like a filler issue, choosing to showcase two well-known moments that feel like they are only there to please the fans, while advancing the story only a little. However, as an experiment in showcasing the unfinished work that provides a glimpse into a world that asks “what could have been?”, it’s still a fun venture that I look forward to seeing through to the end.
The Star Wars #4 is available now from Dark Horse Comics!