Wednesday, 9 September 2015

These aren't the droids you're looking for

Starcat reviews Star Wars comics: STAR WARS (part two)

The story so far: Luke and C3PO are looking for R2D2.

What's wrong with Luke's face?

Luke is too involved now to go back and resume his old life. He is over the rainbow, and just like in The Wizard of Oz that means the story becomes colour from this point on. That seems the obvious reason for the sudden transition to colour pages to me, though I have heard some cats put forward the alternative explanation that the black and white pages were written before the invention of colour.
Gamma Longcat's theory, that some pages are black and white to keep down production costs of the comic book, is not taken seriously by other cat academics and I mention it only out of a sense of completeness.

The scene of combat between Luke and the Sandmanny plays out differently here than in the film version, with Luke being seen to be struck by the Sandmanny's weapon, accompanied by a "WHRAF" sound, but he is then rescued before being sent to sleeps.

Now we are introduced to Ben Kenobi, who confirms he is Obi-Wan Kenobi in accordance with the law of conservation of narrative detail.

The plot moves swiftly to the scene where Ben Kenobi sees Princess Leia's message. The message itself is different in the details: Princess Leia names her father as "Bail Antilles, Viceroy of Alderaan" and addresses Ben Kenobi as both "General" and "Commander".

This leads on to Ben Kenobi telling Luke about his father and the Jedi Knights.

The compression of the story from the film to the comic is felt keenly on this page. Luke is given his lightsabre and told about Darth Vader and "the Dark Side of "the Force"", but in the film this scene is contrasted with us seeing Darth Vader make use of the Dark Side aboard the Death Star.

Luke, briefly sporting a 5 O'Clock shadow, does not want to go to Alderaan with Ben Kenobi, but is talked round to it in a couple of panels. This misses out one of the most gratuitously scary* film scenes in all of Star Wars when Luke goes home and sees Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru turned into skeletons by Stormtroopers - the event that convinces him to go with Ben Kenobi and sets into motion all that follows.

* Or at least it was until betrayed and murdered by the Dark Side of internets memery.

I don't know why Ben Kenobi's face is blue in this picture.

They go to Mos Eisley Spaceport where Ben Kenobi uses the Force to hypno-eyes Stormtroopers. This serves a dual purpose within the narrative: to both escape from the Stormtroopers, and to demonstrate to Luke (and us viewers) what the Force is capable of in the hands of a Jedi Knight.

We meet Han Solo and Chewbacca, both great characters (although Han is basically only a prototype for Lando Calrissian). The scene when Ben Kenobi chops off a manny's arm with his lightsabre is omitted, so when Han says
You're pretty handy with that sabre, old man.
then we must either assume he knows of Ben Kenobi by reputation, if we didn't know about the missing film scene, or else groan at the pun if we did.

Here Han wants to be paid
Ten thousand.. in advance.
and for the sake of brevity we don't see Ben Kenobi haggle him down to seventeen. I think that's what happens, I'm not good at numbers.

Instead we skip straight to the Millennium Falcon flying into space, missing out the brief action scene of the Stormtroopers catching up and shooting at them. That means the above pictured panel is our first sight of the Millennium Falcon in the comic strip.

Up to this point various film scenes with Princess Leia, Darth Vader and Governor Tarkin have been missed out to keep the action with C3PO and the other heroes. But now we reach an important scene that cannot be dropped so, for one page only, we cut to...

This is our first meeting with the principal baddy of Star Wars, Governor Tarkin of Whitstable. He shows he is a baddy straight away by blowing up the planet Alderaan. Taking up half of the page, the planet blowing up is one of the biggest and best pictures in the comic so far, as if to emphasise its importance to the plot.

Even though this is not a cliffhanger, it seems to me that this is a dramatic moment on which to leave things for today. Join me next time when our heroes will reach the Death Star and attempt a prisoner transfer from cell block 1138.

Appendix 1

There are lots of different versions of the Star Wars film that have been released over the years, and it may be that you know a different one from us cats. The format in which we are familiar with Star Wars is a VHS transfer of a Betamax recording of the September 1983 showing on the Grampian region of the ITV channel.
In other words: the best version of Star Wars.

While the first set of adverts were paused out of the recording, we are fortunate that the second ad break remains on the video. This occurs between Luke taking his "first step into a larger world" and Governor Tarkin receiving news from Dantooine.

There are eight adverts, and because they are adverts from 1983 they all look very dated now, like they come from another world that existed long before us cats or even the internets were made. These adverts are:

1. Smarties

2. Maxell Video Tape

This is an especially exciting advert because there is a cat in it!

3. The Great Composers magazine

This advert is useful in dating the broadcast of our copy of Star Wars to 1983, due to its publication date. Another advert appears in a later ad break that is even more useful for this purpose, but I will discuss it when we reach that advert.

4. Spry Crisp 'n Dry

5. McCain Pizza

I can't find a video of this on the internets. McCain Pizza is a kind of manny noms. The advert is most noteworthy for having Ian Holm provide the voiceover.

6. British Gas fires

Another advert that I cannot track down on the internets. The advert claims that
they're so beautiful to look at
so it is a shame that you cannot judge for yourselves, mew.

7. The Home Computer Course magazine

This is the second advert within the same ad break to have an Ian Holm voiceover. He must have been a very busy manny in the early 1980s.

8. Jaffa Cakes

This advert from the internets is too long to be exactly the same one as we know from Star Wars, but if you missed out the first 16 seconds then it would be the same.

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