“The Star Wars” by J.W. Rinzler

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The Star Wars is not the Star Wars we’ve all grown to know and love. Instead, this comic is an adaptation of George Lucas’s first draft for the film that eventually became Star Wars. This is an alternative take on the story, a great “what if?” Some of the characters and places have names similar to those in the final films, but in a completely different context. Luke Skywalker isn’t an optimistic young kid, but rather a grizzled old Jedi general.

The Star Wars is a fascinating read for fans of the franchise. J.W. Rinzler and his team did a great job adapting the script to the comic book page. The artwork has a cinematic quality, yet has a style distinct from the films. Like the original films, this comic has some rich world-building, creating the illusion of depth, of stories beyond this story that will never be told.

Yet, The Star Wars also feels like a bullet dodged. This is an adaptation of George Lucas’ first draft for Star Wars, and it shows its strengths and weaknesses as a writer. The story is too convoluted and and the characters are never given an opportunity to develop clear arcs. There are so many small battles, so many planets, so many twists and turns that few of them really leave much of an impact. This story is missing the endearing character moments, like Luke looking longingly at the twin suns on Tatooine. It’s easy to see in The Star Wars the writer who would later give us The Phantom Menace.

If I had one criticism of this comic book project, I wish Rinzler had taken upon himself to add some of those smaller character beats. This book is only 8 issues, but there’s no reason it couldn’t have been 10 or more. I’d imagine there were ways Rinzler could have slowed the story down without significantly changing the script.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in the origins of the Star Wars story. For more about George Lucas’ early drafts and the process of making the Original Trilogy, I highly recommend The Secret History of Star Wars.

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