SPOILERS BLOCKED OUT IN WHITE!
(Highlight White Areas to Reveal Spoilers)
I have been a Star Wars fan most of my life. It was one of the first films I remember appreciating that wasn't a cartoon and I have loved them ever since, whether it be the Original Trilogy (which are better and I prefer) or the Prequels they are all brilliant films and will go down in history as one of the best film franchises ever. So when I found this collection whilst looking for the comic adaptations I would be silly not to get it and am very happy I have. With brilliant writers and artists this book is a visual delight and both Marvel (who originally produced the adaptations of Episodes IV-VI) and Dark Horse have done excellent work making them.This review will be split into the individual Episodes to give more detail and comparison.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
The Trade Federation has set up a blockade of battleships around the planet Naboo. Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi are sent as ambassador’s for the Supreme Chancellor Valorum to negotiate with the Trade Federation Viceroy Sentepeth Findos, in hopes of resolving the issue. However this does not transpire as a Sith Lord named Darth Sidious orders the Viceroy to kill the Jedi and invade Naboo. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan escape and now set of on a journey to stop the Trade Federation, where they will meet a young boy named Anakin Skywalker who they believe will bring balance to the force, and fight a Darth Sidious’ Sith apprentice Darth Maul.
Overall this was actually a pretty good adaptation. I liked how it managed to keep all the important parts of the story in whilst making it transition between the cut out parts very nicely. However there were some parts that were cut out or shortened that were noticeable. Like for instance the Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan vs. Darth Maul fight which was one of the best parts of the film was drastically cut down and had no flare.
Similar to this I felt that some of the more important/interesting conversations that happened during the film where either cut down too much or didn't happen at all. I understand the need to condense it down and it tells a story which is over two hour on film, and like I said earlier most of it was adapted well, but I still feel that some points could have been expanded. I also loved how it kept the emotion in the comic and although not every scene showed the same emotion as the film, it did show it in a good way for the scenes that count.
My favourite sequence in this adaptation was the pod race and I thought it was adapted very well and thought even though condensed it still showed excitement and drama. I will finish off this part of my review by talking about the artwork, which I felt was the best part about this comic. Like most Star Wars comics by Dark Horse it has beautiful art and Rodolfo Damaggio did great work on this getting the likeness of the characters spot on and showing great detail in this vast world that has lots of different elements to it.
Original Film Story: 3.5/5
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Set 10 years after the events of Episode I, former Queen of Naboo, Padmé Amidala who is now a politician is attacked on her way to Coruscant, narrowly escaping death. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine assigns Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice Anakin Skywalker to protect Padmé. During another assassination attempt Obi-Wan and Anakin give chase to the assassin, Zam Wesell, and finally catch her, but before she can say anything she herself is assassinated by her employer using a poisonous dart. After this Padmé is advised to return to her home planet Naboo, where she will be safe. Anakin is then tasked with escorting Padmé and during their time together they grow closer together developing a forbidden romance. Meanwhile Obi-Wan is tasked with finding the source of the poisonous dark which he tracks to a planet named Kamino. Whilst there he finds a clone army that has been commissioned to serve the Republic.
This wasn’t a bad adaptation but like the previous one it had points that were more noticeably cut out. I also didn't like how they sped up the adaptation by cut down the dialogue. I do understand that they need to cut the film down into comic form size but they managed to do it in the adaptation of Episode I without explaining a back and forward dialogue scene in one summarised description. This however stopped not long into the adaptation and the story became a lot more entertaining.
I did however think that the art work stepped up another level this time and that Jan Duursema has done an amazing job and like Damaggio in Episode I has been able to show the character likeness brilliantly as well as showing lots of emotion in them. The art would have made this a better adaptation but due to the way it started and the fact the overall stories are equally good I would rate them the both the same.
I really enjoyed the fights in this adaptation, both the fight/chase between Obi-Wan and Jango Fett and the Obi-Wan/Anakin/Yoda vs. Count Dooku fight. Although like the fight in Episode I both these fights/chases are cut down they however run smoothly with a realistic pace. I also liked the chase between Obi-Wan/Anakin and Zam Wesell, as it was well adapted running smoothly and was very entertaining.
Although I understand needing to tone things down for comics, I would have liked to have seen either Anakin fighting the sand people or the preferably emotion on his face when he finished killing them because it was a great emotional moment in the film and it showed signs of Anakin veering to the Dark Side.
Original Film Story: 3.5/5
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Three years into the Clone Wars Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi infiltrate the command ship of the Separatist commander General Grievous to rescue Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. When they find Palpatine they are greeted by Count Dooku and fight him. During the fight Obi-Wan is knocked unconscious and Anakin has his Lightsaber pointed at a now defenceless Dooku is encouraged by Palpatine to kill Dooku and reluctantly does so. After a skirmish with Grievous who abandon the ship Anakin crash lands the ship on the planet Coruscant. Anakin now reunited with his wife Padmé and happily finds out that she is pregnant but lands up having dreams of her dying in childbirth. Palpatine who believes the Jedi are conspiring against him places Anakin on the Jedi Council as his representative. Obi-Wan is later sent to Utapau to take on Grievous and end the war and Anakin who finds out Palpatine is a Sith Lord and is lured to the Dark Side becoming Darth Vader in hopes of saving Padmé.
Between Episodes I-III this was by far the best adaptation. To start it was adapted beautifully and was as good if not better than Episode I on that side and defiantly better than Episode II was adapted. The reason I would go as far as to say it was even a lot better than Episode I was because it ran at a much smoother pace and it wasn't as obvious that parts were cut out. I also liked how this adaptation kept the emotion and suspense as at key point during the story the emotional realisation of events are brilliantly shown.
The thing that I liked most about this adaptation and the main reason it’s better than Episodes I and II was the art. It seems that with each adaptation the art keeps getting better and better and although the art in both Episodes I and II were amazing it was nothing compared to the art in this adaptation which was plainly astonishing. Doug Wheatley did an outstanding job in this book and showed the emotions throughout this story brilliantly. There were parts in it like for instance when Padmé was crying that the art felt a bit stiff but that is over shown by the amount of facial detail used to show the emotion. Chris Chuckry also added brilliant colour which made Wheatley's pencils stand out more whilst giving it a brilliant finish. One of my favourite images from this adaptation was when Grievous’ command ship crashed into Coruscant as it showed lots of detail including the fire from the explosion, parts flying off the ship and the massive hole left in the ground. I also think it was a brilliant idea having this image take up nearly a whole page with only a small panned above it showing the ship heading for the planet with fire and smoke coming out the back.
The fight scenes in this adaptation were also a lot better and I loved how like the film we see the Anakin vs. Obi-Wan fight and the Palpatine vs. Yoda at the same time although the Palpatine/Yoda one ended a bit abruptly and I didn't actually notice at first that it ended. The Obi-Wan vs. Grievous fight was also good and liked how it showed Grievous utilising four lightsabers. Even the fight between Anakin/Obi-Wan and Count Dooku at the start was good even though it was cut down. It was also nice that the adaptation showed all the places populated by Jedi that were effected by the Clone Troops attack and not just Coruscant, Kashyyyk and Utapau.
Original Film Story: 4/5
Episode IV: A New Hope
Princess Leia is captured by the evil Darth Vader after stealing Empire’s heavily armoured space station the Death Star. Before she is captured she puts the details of the plans in the memory of R2-D2 a astromech droid, who along with a protocol droid called C-3PO escape to the planet Tatooine. The droids are then bought by a farmer called Owen Lars and his nephew Luke Skywalker. Whilst cleaning R2 Luke find a message from Leia meant for an Obi-Wan Kenobi, who Luke thinks might be related to an old hermit called Ben Kenobi. R2 then goes looking for Obi-Wan and when Luke finds him he also finds Ben Kenobi who reveals himself as Ob-Wan. Obi-Wan asks for Luke’s help in rescuing Leia and offers to teach him in the ways of the force so he can become a Jedi like his father was. When Luke finds his home’s been destroyed and his Aunt and Uncle dead he agrees to help Obi-Wan and the two hire a smuggler named Han Solo and his first mate Chewbacca to take them on their spaceship the The Millennium Falcon.
This was a brilliant adaptation and worthy of such a great film. It was nice that like Episode I and III this adaptation still has most of the story in it and isn't cut down as much as Episode II was. I also liked how like Episode III the bits that were cut out weren't as noticeable.
I also liked how most of the classic quotes were kept in the adaptation like, “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imaging,” or “The Sand People will soon be back and in greater numbers,” amongst others, as these were great quotes so were nice to re-live through this adaptation.
The art was also great in this and Eduardo Barreto did a brilliant job. Although not as good as Episode II or III, was great art for the time it came out, and even as good as the art in Episode I was. I also like how in this art you have some big panel drawings that lead into a much smaller picture with more going on. The emotion shown on the characters in this adaptation was also amazing and although not quite as good as the job as Wheatley did on Episode III, Barreto still showed great emotion and gave more of an atmosphere to the book.
I also liked how there was a bit more gore to the violence in this adaptation like for instance when Obi-Wan chops of the man that’s attacking Luke in the bar you can see all the blood coming out. I understand that it’s more public friendly to have this taken out as it might upset some children but I personally liked it and felt it gave more realism to the book.
The Obi-Wan vs. Vader fight was also done very well in this adaptation and thought it was nice that during the fight it changed to Luke and Han rescuing Leia which made the fight seem longer. The only bit I thought could have been expanded was the end of the Republics attack on the Death Star as we had a lovely sequence showing the battle, which lasted 20 plus pages and to have it end abruptly was a bit of a let down.
Original Film Story: 4.5/5
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
On a ice planet in the Hoth system, Princess Leia now leads a contingent of the Rebel Alliance which include both Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. A probe droid sent by Darth Vader lands on the planet and Luke goes to investigate, but is ambushed my a Wampa. Han eventually finds Luke who has escape the Wampa’s cave but succumb to the freezing temperature. Later Luke travels to the Dagobah system where Obi-Wan has instructed to go to train under the Jedi Master Yoda and Han, Leia and company continue to evade the Empire now aboard the Millennium Falcon.
Another good adaptation to what is my favourite part of the saga. I am very happy that this film was adapted well as it was the one I was looking forward to reading the most. Like all the adaptations parts are cut down/out. This one however did a great job in supplementing for the parts that were by using description boxes telling what’s happened to the characters and unlike the similar technique used in the adaptation of Episode II it describes the events brilliantly and doesn't feel like it’s rushing you to the next scene.
Archie Goodwin did a brilliant job writing this adaptation and it was almost as exciting reading this adaptation as it was watching the film. He has written the characters perfectly and you can really see the motion between them come through. I especially loved how he wrote the chemistry between Luke and Yoda and it was just as funny as it was in the film.
Al Williamson has also done a brilliant job on art and was as good as Barreto’s work on Episode IV and the art was brilliant for the time it came out. I did however feel that he didn't show the emotion on the characters quite as well as Barretto or Wheatley did but still did an amazing job and drew the character’s likeness perfectly.
The fight between Luke and Vader was brilliant and you could really feel the suspense due to the colouring by James Sinclair and Frank Lopez. I didn't however feel the same amount of emotion from Luke when Vader reveals that he is his father and for such a classic moment in film history it wasn't done proper justice which was a bit disappointing. This however doesn't totally overshadow the adaptation and all the emotion, drama and suspense throughout the rest of the adaptation makes up for this.
Original Film Story: 5/5
Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi
Luke Skywalker sets in motion a plan to rescue Han Solo from the crime lord Jabba The Hutt, which involves Princess Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2 and Lando Calrissian. After rescuing Han Luke returns to Yoda on Degobah, to find that he is dying. The spirit of Ob-Wan reveals that Luke has a sister and that she is Leia. After learning that the Empire are building a new Death Star the Rebel Alliance plan to destroy it. Leia, Han, and Luke along with Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 go to Endor where they plan to destroy the station’s shielding generator. Luke later leaves the others to face Darth Vader were they will have their final battle to decide the fate of the Galaxy.
A great adaptation and a brilliant way to end the saga. This adaptation had a lot of bits shortened or cut and with probably the most out of Episodes IV-VI but like Episode V the parts shortened or cut were brilliantly supplemented by the description boxes which described what happened brilliantly and with a lot of drama and excitement.
Goodwin was back writing this adaptation and like Episode V he did a brilliant job. Although due to this adaptation being a good bit shorter than the previous one it still kept a lot of emotion and suspense. I did however feel that the adaptation spent a little too long spent on Luke rescuing Han and due to this the remainder of the story was rushed and some of the more epic moments during the film didn't fell as epic.
Williamson was also back doing the artwork on this adaptation and this time he had Cary Porter and Perry Mcnamee doing colouring which was a lot different this time round. Whereas Episode V had more bright colours like blue and yellow throughout giving tones of light this adaptation was a lot darker with blacks, dark greens, browns and greys throughout, even the yellow in C-3PO was more darker with hints of brown through it. I really liked the different in colour as it really showed the difference in the tones between these to stories with Episode V having a lot of hope left in it where as Episode VI starts with them trying to pick up the pieces and throughout they realise they only really have one chance remaining to take down the Empire.
The fight between Luke and Vader this time was more tamer and due to the time spent on the earlier part of the story the fight felt a bit rushed. I did however like the way the Emperor was shown in this adaptation, as you can tell he is evil and only really cares for himself. Luke’s reaction to the Emperor was also brilliantly done and you could feel his anger throughout the sequence.
Original Film Story: 4.5/5
This was a great book and although not perfect a brilliant addition to any Star Wars fan’s collection, and I would highly recommend it. If you don't have the time to sit down and watch the films or you just want to relive the saga through a different form of media this is brilliant for you., Although some people will be disappointed as bits from the film are cut out this is still brilliant and to be honest shouldn't be better than the films.