Starcat reviews Star Wars comics
Episode 2: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
The Empire Strikes Back is one of the most famous films evar, containing one of the most famous plot twists of all time and introducing the best character in Star Wars: Lando Calrissian. Unfortunately Lando does not appear until the last third of the story, which is also when the majority of the famous and dramatic scenes occur - not a coincidence, I'm sure.
The comic adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back is over 100 pages long, making it almost twice as long as the Star Wars comic even though the film equivalents are about the same length. This means that, unlike with the heavily-abbreviated Star Wars, the whole of the second* film's story can be told, and there is even room for an additional sub-plot that was not in the film version.
* I know that The Empire Strikes Back is technically the third Star Wars film, but to the best of my knowledge there is not a comic adaptation of The Star Wars Holiday Special, sadly.
As the story begins we can quickly see that the artwork style has changed considerably since Star Wars, with less primary colours and a greater use of light and shade for dramatic effect.
A good example of the shading can be seen in the fourth panel as Han Solo and Princess Leia argue.
The dialogue of their argument here is considerably more dated than in the film, with Han's sexist barb
You've been so busy giving orders, you've forgotten how to be a woman.It is a mis-step and does not really fit with Han's character as established elsewhere. Fortunately Princess Leia gets the better of him in the argument (or at least the last word, which is not quite the same thing unless you're arguing on the internets) and then the plot moves on to the additional sub-plot that is exclusive to the comic.
Luke has already been knocked out and captured by a Wampa, although his friends don't know that yet, and now we the readers see that there is another Wampa breaking into their base, although the main characters don't know that yet either.
As Luke escapes from the Wampa's cave, his friends finally notice that he hasn't come back to the base.
There are a lot more panels that overlap or are layered on top of other panels in this than there were in Star Wars, with over half the pages of part 1 featuring one or both of these techniques.
The sub-plot also comes to the attention of the main characters, for now in the form of a mystery where we know what is going on but they don't:
And we've had other problems... something attacked one of the Tauntauns.
Han is the only manny brave enough to go out to look for Luke.
Luke sees a vision of Ben Kenobi, the first of Alec Guinness's several cameo appearances in The Empire Strikes Back.
Han finds Luke and then Rogue Two finds them both. Luke is taken to hopistal and then R2D2 encounters one of the Wampas in the base.
For maximum scariness we only ever see the Wampas' arms. Scary Cat likes the Wampas.
The Wampas plot gives way to the next danger, an Imperial Probe Droid. Princess Leia confirms
And it's metal... definitely not one of those creatures.
Chewbacca and Han go out and blow it up.
I like the way that the background of the larger panel behind the two smaller panels creates the effect of a scene transition. We see the baddys for the first time and get our first look at their super-sized Star Destroyer spaceship. Darth Vader's theme music really ought to be playing over this scene for maximum atmosphere, even despite being hugely devalued in power by the recent crass commercialisation of Star Wars.
Sad, isn't it? Adverts are not what they were in the 1980s. Mew.
For some reason Michael Sheard and Kenneth Colley appear to have swapped roles in the comic version from those they played in the film, as the third panel shows Colley as Admiral Ozzel talking to Darth Vader. From this we can deduce that the manny with the moustache in the first panel, the one who looks like Michael Sheard, is Captain Piett.
The first part of The Empire Strikes Back ends with Darth Vader on his way to strike back:
...we're proceeding to the Hoth system. Full speed!