Saturday, December 4, 2010

Star Wars Legacy #1 Reviewed

Continuing his fantastic ongoing series of reviews, friend of Escape from Tomorrow Simon Breeze has written at length about his love of Star Wars and Dark Horse's recent reissue of a first issue from a popular series.

Star Wars Legacy #1

“The Jedi Temple is attacked, an Emperor is betrayed, and the Sith are born anew! A lot can happen in a hundred years, but all of the above happens just in this first issue! Not since Luke Skywalker first stepped aboard the Millennium Falcon has the galaxy seemed like such a vast, exciting, dangerous place!”

For continuity and canon, the Star Wars universe can be a very complicated place indeed! Star Wars: Legacy is quite cleverly set 130 years after the first Star Wars film, A New Hope. This has given it the flexibility to almost 'start again' without getting bogged down in all of the established Star Wars Expanded Universe ('EU'), or the current George Lucas vision of the saga via multiple re-envisions of the films and TV shows (Known as 'G'-level canon, see what I mean by complicated).

For me, I am one of those irritating Star Wars fans who likes what he likes and ignores the rest; kind of making up my own canon for the saga as I go. I often feel that the Star Wars universe is so vast and encompassing and has so many characters that you could go out of your mind trying to keep up with it all. I guess this is my way of saying I'm a little fussy when it comes to new Star Wars material, and I wont lie, maybe sceptical and a little difficult to please too.

Something that caught my attention, and sadly far too late to jump on-board with the monthly comic release of the story, was Star Wars: Legacy. Although the comic run started in 2006 and ended in late 2010 (and is about to get a new mini-series called War early 2011), my introduction to it was several years into the run and oddly via a two pack of Star Wars action figures packed with a comic. The action figures were of two of the most popular characters from the Star Wars: Legacy title, Darth Talon and Cade Skywalker and the comic packed with the figures was issue #2. A quick read of issue #2 was all I needed to peak my interest in the comic series (and yes you maybe sensing a 'but') but I wasn't convinced enough to invest in the collected edition, I needed more before I was ready to take that plunge (see, sceptical and a little difficult to please!).

Fast-forward to this year and the ongoing and brilliant trend for comic publishers to re-print first issue for a Dollar, and I have issue #1 of Star Wars: Legacy in my mits!

When I ordered this first issue, I must admit, I had a mixed bag of feelings towards it before it had even arrived on my doorstep. Something happened to Star Wars back in 1999 with the release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: it changed. Now this might sound like an obvious thing to say, but stick with me for a moment whilst I rant. Before 1999, Star Wars was all about Science Fiction and Fantasy adventure, action and fun. With the release of the three new films, Star Wars became about politics, and this bled into everything!

No longer were the Star Wars comics and books spawning from the Star Wars universe about strange aliens, cool spaceships and roguish space adventurous saving the beautiful princess and the galaxy. No, it was now all about some unpronounceable Jedi, Sith, alien or planet and the politics of how they all get along - or don't get along - and was it me or does everyone now have a lightsaber of some description? For some folk, this works and it is loved dearly. For me? I like my Star Wars to be about the fun and adventure in a galaxy far, far away (it's my age).

This was my concern: was Star Wars Legacy politics or adventure? I'm happy to say – both!

This first issue starts in the thick of things with the last of the Jedi battling Stormtrooprs and Sith as the Jedi try to flee for their lives on the planet of Ossus. The Jedi are but a handful against a huge army and things are not looking too promising for their survival.

Against overwhelming odds, Kol Skywalker stands his ground giving the few remaining Jedi, including his son Cade, the time they need to escape before his death. Witnessing his death, Cade is overrun with emotion and leaping into a fighter takes the battle with the Sith into the stars above Ossus. Seemingly killed in the fight, but as did his father, buying valuable time for the (now even smaller) group of Jedi to escape into hyperspace.

Phew! Almost the first three quarters of this comic are action packed! So much so it barely pauses for breath between lightsaber fights and space battles and leaves your head spinning, all good so-far ...

The story now slows the pace for the last few pages whilst it moves location to the planet of Coruscant, the hub of the Star Wars galaxy. That is not to say this last section doesn't have a few panels of action, however its main focus is laying the foundations for political intrigue and backstabbing (Hmmm ... Star Wars politics!). Simply, this is where we are introduced to the 'bad guys' of the story, so a lot of 'Lord this' and 'Emperor that...' and 'Grand Admiral Unpronounceable' debating and scheming about how they are not going to get along.

The book ends with the main bad guy, Darth Krayt, sitting on the throne, the new Emperor of the Star Wars galaxy, almost doing an evil laugh saying, '... My vision of galactic order is not yet reality, but it will be ... It will be...' I kid you not.

Now this last bit sounds like I'm mocking the comic, and being truthful I am, but only because I love all that 'cheesey' bad guy stuff. Darth Krayt is awesome, his is a typical big and scary bad guy with a vision and the will to carry it out, and true to his archetype, he has surrounded himself with fools and goons and needs someone of power to take the mantel of his legacy when he pass on. In this case, the assumed killed in battle Cade Skywalker who Darth Krayt must hunt down and turn to the Darkside of the Force! Brilliant stuff.

Technically the comic is very good. The story and the dialogue are very much classic 'space opera' with plenty of action and adventure thrown in for good measure – much like the original Star Wars films. For those who are fans of the newer Star Wars, there is plenty to get excited about too, lots of planets and people with unpronounceable names, everyone really does seem to have a lightsaber and swinging it plus there is Sith coming out of the woodwork, none of the '... two there are. No more, no less' rule. I don't think I have ever seen so many people tattooed red and black in a Star Wars comic before.

The art is fantastic, very cinematic and popping off the page as you read. You can't help but feel part of the action as it takes place. The panel placing and pacing is really good too, with the amount of action that takes place in this first issue, it could have easily have become stagnant and dull, however the creative team putting the art together have nicely managed to avoid this and instead presented a visual treat.

I'm going to give this comic a strong - yet cautious - 4 out of 5. Cautious? 4 out of 5?

Where was Darth Talon in this issue? She was on the cover and that was it. Could help but feel a little let down by this, a personal point I guess as it is her character along with Cade's that interested me in reading this title.

The politics of the Star Wars galaxy: yes not for me, but for some very important and in this issue at a level that works for me. However, I have a nagging fear that as the story progresses they become very central to the story, this does make me a little cautious.

My last grumble is that even though the story is set 130 years in the future of the Star Wars universe, you still need a good solid knowledge of the Star Wars universe. I grumble about this point from a personal point-of-view, as here was a great opportunity to create a title that anyone could read, instead there is a heavy tug of the apron strings of the already established Star Wars continuity from previous titles. Even me with my knowledge of the Star Wars franchise, still struggled in places to understand what was going on and the relevance of some of the situations: people, places, etc ... that were being referenced throughout the story.

In reality, all minor points, I found this a very enjoyable read, value for money, and yes, I will be picking up the first trade and giving it a go.

That's right, I'm sceptical and a little difficult to please!

Star Wars Legacy #1
One for One Dollar
Story by John Ostrander & Jan Duursemma, script by John Ostrander, Pencils by Jan Duursema, inks by Dan Parsons, colours by Brad Anderson, letters by Michael David Thomas, cover art #1 by Adam Hughes
Published by Dark Horse Comics, 2010