Tuesday, 8 September 2015

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....

Big Gay Longcat presents:

Starcat reviews Star Wars comics

Episode IV 1: STAR WARS

Star Wars is the best film evar* of course, but there is also a comics version of it from 1978 that is less well known. Now that I have finished helping my best friend Scary Cat review Sapphire & Steel, this is my own project to look at this comic and the subsequent comic adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as comics set between those latter two films that were made before Return of the Jedi.

These comics are great because they have lots of Lando Calrissian in them, the best character in Star Wars even though he is not the main character, and they are far, far more worthy to be considered canon than the so-called 'prequel trilogy' of rubbish films made from 1999-2005.

But first we have to go back to 1978 to the first Star Wars comic, an adaptation of, appropriately enough, Star Wars.

* I know Big Gay Longcat likes Star Trek films better because they have Captain Kirk in them, but he is wrong.

I don't know why some words are in CAPITAL LETTERS and some words aren't. I think the "CIVIL WAR" it refers to is between mannys who wanted all capitals and mannys who didn't.

While the film version of Star Wars avoided this problem, this comic has fallen into a too-common trap of films where having credits at the start causes them to interfere with the plot - a famous example of this is Touch of Evil. Here we see an attempt to build suspense
At this moment:
interrupted by the colorist's credit, so it reads like
At this moment: Marie Severin, Colorist
That makes for a very dramatic credit, lol. I don't know what a Colorist is, maybe it deserves a dramatic credit?

On page 2 we are introduced to Lord Darth Vader, who would once have been considered the scariest baddy in all Star Wars but whom chronic media overexposure has reduced to being less scary than Bertie the pug puppy.

It is already clear from this early stage that the comic is not going to be sticking closely to the exact dialogue from the film. Instead of saying
Commander tear this ship apart until you've found those plans, and bring me the passengers - I want them alive!
Lord Vader says
Start tearing this ship apart, piece by piece, until you have those tapes! And find the passengers of this vessel! I want them-- alive!!

The same fundamental information is conveyed, but in a different way. While possibly done to annoy the purists, I think it is more likely that this is so the dialogue can be better fitted to the comics medium, such as being broken up over several panels or condensed as required, or to include exposition that would otherwise be lost with no other place for it.

Also on page 2, and in stark contrast to Lord Vader, we are introduced to the heroic protagonists of Star Wars, C3PO and R2D2, as well as Princess Leia.

Princess Leia is introduced to us from C3PO's point of view, as the exposition captions explain:
The unknown girl who kneels by the smaller robot is probably beautiful by human standards...
But, Threepio, being a robot himself, takes scant notice of her...

As C3PO and R2D2 escape in a lifepod, Princess Leia holds off the Stormtroopers until she is captured. Her one line of dialogue (and not one from the film) is
I've set mine to kill!
and is a concise way of establishing her characteristics as a physically active participant who is unafraid of violence.

Down on the planet, C3PO and R2D2 also get captured, and then they are sold as slaves to Uncle Owen. The scene shown on this page - which introduced another main character, Luke Skywalker - sticks quite closely to the film version.

C3PO is hired by Uncle Owen because of his useful programming and language skills, and R2D2 is only hired because another R2 unit has "a bad motivator" (i.e. is borked) and this allows C3PO to speak up for his friend. If not for their friendship, the goodys would not have got far in Star Wars. C3PO is great!

R2D2 is impatient to get on with the story and shows Luke part of the recording of Princess Leia to get him involved in the plot too. Luke says "she's beautiful!" proving that he is a human and not a robot or a cat.

R2D2's ploy works because Luke connects the name "Obi-Wan Kenobi" with "Old Ben Kenobi" which is close enough it seems.

R2D2 is so impatient that, having heard where Old Ben Kenobi lives, he doesn't even want to wait for the other two but sets off by himself.

While C3PO's dialogue is for the most part* close to the film version, Luke's is changed significantly to provide more exposition about what is happening. Even though R2D2 is his best friend, C3PO is not happy with how he has acted and sides with Luke over it, a touch that gives their friendship more depth and even a kind of realism, for all that they are robots in a space opera setting.

That is all from me for now. Join me next time when we will meet more old friends and foes, and there will be colour!

* He doesn't go "Yipe!" while looking like he has just been towel-flicked on his bum, lol if he did though.

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