In 4 issues (5 if you include last month’s concept art-filled issue #0), Dark Horse Comics has allowed fans a glimpse of what George Lucas had originally envisioned for what would eventually become Star Wars. As The Star Wars continues with issue #5, writer J.W. Rinzler and artist Mike Mayhew hit a stride with regard to telling the story and engaging the reader, but still manage to stumble a few times along the way.
Issue #5 feels more like Star Wars, plain and simple. Luke, Annikin, and Whitesun have ditched their capes for jackets and instead of driving back and forth through the desert, the soldiers, the princess, the smuggler, and the droids find themselves shooting their way out of a spaceport in a series of events that feels like the detention block shootout, the escape from Cloud City, and the flight from Mos Eisley all rolled into one. Mike Mayhew even caps off the sequence with a near perfect reproduction of one of Ralph McQuarrie’s original pieces of concept art.
However, the issue is not without its faults. Amidst the excitement of the group’s escape, the teenage Princess Leia brings the story to a grinding halt with her abrupt declaration of love for Annikin Starkiller. It’s just as sudden and awkward as Padme’s forced speech in Episode II. The expression on Annikin’s face, brilliantly illustrated by Mayhew, encapsulates both Annikin’s and the reader’s reaction to this “WTF?” moment. This, coupled with the fact that the character of Annikin Starkiller looks and feels completely out of place in every scene, takes the reader completely out of the story and struggles to keep the action engaging.
Thankfully, the issue ends on a high note, placing our heroes smack in the middle of one of the most exciting and memorable sequences from A New Hope. If Rinzler and Mayhew can keep up the momentum into issue #6 and beyond, The Star Wars may yet recover from the inconsistent run it has endured thus far.
The Star Wars #5 from Dark Horse Comics is available today!