The Star Wars #1
March 2, 2015
Based on the original rough draft of Star Wars! Features cyborgs, red laser swords, and trade negotiations. Because it always features trade negotiations.
(The room is decked out with Star Wars paraphernalia)
Linkara: (wearing a Jedi-type cape) Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Movies change a lot from their initial screenplay to what actually is filmed. Personally, I love hearing about earlier drafts and things that they decided to change.
(Footage of the very first Star Wars trailer is shown)
Linkara (v/o): It's especially fascinating to hear about the original versions of something that has such a huge pop culture impact, like Star Wars. Now, as I've said before, I'm more of a Star Trek guy, and I've pointed out the silliness of Star Wars before, but as I also have said, and people have seemed to ignore, is that all the things we love are silly.
Linkara: (as Captain Kirk) From a certain point of view, that is.
(Footage of the very first Star Wars trailer is shown)
Linkara (v/o): But sometimes, even the goofiness of the things we love used to be even more goofy. Writer and editor J.W. Rinzler, while looking through the Lucasfilm archives for material to put in Star Wars production and nonfiction books, came across the original rough draft for The Star Wars and thought that it would be great to adapt it to comics. And that's what we're reviewing today. Star Wars, when it was initially conceived, was only as one film. While everything here says that it's George Lucas' "original rough draft", it'd probably be more accurate to say that it's the third or fourth draft. Star Wars' most original concept was apparently a short summary called "The Journal of the Whills" that legendary of all Jedi, Mace Windy.
Linkara: No doubt with famed actor Samuel L. Jackie in the role.
Linkara (v/o): As the drafts expanded, more Star Wars-y elements were added, and the title changed to The Adventures of Luke Starkiller, As Taken From the "Journal of the Whills": Saga I - The Star Wars.
Linkara: And from there, it became The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Learned How To Make a Damn Proper Title For Their Story. (beat) As Taken From the "Journal of the Whills".
(Images of early designs for the film are shown, to be later recycled in the comic to come)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, naturally, that just got shortened to The Star Wars. On the artistic front, it was decided that it would be best if instead of the designs that were actually used in the film, they'd go back to the very original production design ideas for stuff like how Stormtroopers looked, ship design, and etc...
(Comic covers showing these alternate designs are displayed in the style of the classic Star Wars poster)
Linkara (v/o): ...which is really kind of brilliant. It really does create a sense of an alternate reality, something that's so close to what you're familiar with, but different enough that it feels new. At the same time, place and character names that got cut from the finished version of A New Hope got recycled in later films and stories, so you end up seeing things that are a bit different in the original version.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up comic of review) "The Star Wars #1", and see if the original version of this tale from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away really should've stayed there.
(AT4W intro and theme plays, followed by title card, which has "Danger Zone" playing over it; cut to a shot of a cover of the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Not really much point in looking at these individual covers, since, one, they're all awesome, done in a Struzan-esque style by Nick Runge and mimic the general style of Star Wars posters, and two, I'm reading from a trade. This may not be the Star Wars everyone knows, but it's still Star Wars, so we begin with an expository crawl.
Text: Until the recent GREAT REBELLION...
(Cut to a clip of He-Man and She-Ra: Secret of the Sword, featuring Bow)
Bow: The Great Rebellion.
(Back to the comic)
Text: ...the JEDI-BENDU were the most feared warriors in the universe.
Linkara: Despite the fact that they were called (makes "air quotes") "Jedi-Bendu".
Linkara (v/o): Want to make your fearsome organization sound silly right off the bat? Add more syllables to their name.
Text: For one hundred thousand years, generations of JEDI perfected their art as the personal bodyguards of the Emperor.
Linkara: And every year, they were discouraged from unionizing.
Text: They were the chief architects of the invincible IMPERIAL SPACE FORCE, which expanded the EMPIRE across the galaxy, from the celestial equator to the farthest reaches of the GREAT RIFT.
Linkara: And yet they had the crappiest postal system in the universe.
Text: Now these legendary warriors are all but extinct.
Linkara: (as Jedi-Bendu warrior) Damn! I knew we shouldn't have cut down Endor's forests! That's the Jedi-Bendu's natural habitat!
Text: One by one they have been hunted down and destroy as enemies of the NEW EMPIRE by a ferocious and sinister rival warrior sect, THE KNIGHTS OF SITH.
Linkara: Don't you mean "Sith Godo" or something?
Linkara (v/o): While a spaceship flies into view, as you do in Star Wars, we cut to the "Fourth Moon of Utapau". There, a family is living in a fairly desolate environment in what appears to be a crashed spaceship and some makeshift shelters. A boy runs inside and informs his father that...
Boy: They've found us!
Linkara (v/o): However, the father is too busy whipping his son with his belt... I'm not even kidding; look at this... and tells said son, Deak, to continue concentrating on the problem. The problem seems to be a Rubik's Cube. Man, Jedi training is hard.
Father: Annikin, how many?
Linkara (v/o): Yep, the older son is named Annikin. And yet, strangely, he's still on a planet with lots of sand.
Annikin: Only one this time, Dad. A Banta four.
Father: Good. They must think this knight is something special. We may not have to repair that old bucket after all. Prepare yourself.
Linkara: (as father) Let's open up the sweet corn stand and make us some money.
Linkara (v/o): Deak also wants to join in, revealing the Rubik's Cube is now glowing. The dad asks if Deak has solved the problem.
Deak: I think it's the Corbet Dictum.
Linkara: Ah, yes, the wisdom of Bill Corbett.
(A shot of Bill Corbett's Twitter account is displayed, with the following Tweet, read by Linkara)
Linkara (v/o): "Made my dog watch Scooby-Doo to shame* into some focus w/ his life: 'When are YOU gonna solve a mystery?' He licked himself in response."
- NOTE: It reads, "shame him", not just "shame".
Linkara: There is truth with these Jedi bendy dolls.
Deak: "What is, is without."
Linkara (v/o): Okay, that sounds kind of deep, assuming I'm interpreting this correctly, that reality is all that's outside of our bodies, but doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of meditation and contemplating and thinking and stuff, since none of that is occurring outside the body?
Deak: Sir, I've outmarked Annikin in twelve disciplines. I'm as good--
Father: All right, son. Get your gear.
Linkara (v/o): (about Deak) He even looks like Anakin from The Phantom Menace. Anyway, the three head out and see that the ship from the expository crawl page has landed. The father suspects that the ship landed there to set a trap for them, since there's no sign of him actually leaving the ship. He decides to confront the pilot head-on and goes off on his own, figuring it's better to go in rather than wait for their opponent to set up an ambush.
Linkara: Or, you could use that gun the kid is carrying to shoot at them from a distance. You know, the reason why guns exist in the first place? To hit a target from far away? (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): It's a moot point anyway, since the owner of the ship had indeed left it and snuck around back to the kids. The Sith slices at Deak and knocks him away. Surprising that that's all it does considering what we've seen lightsabers do in the movies. But even more surprisingly, we see that Annikin is wielding a red lightsaber of his own.
Linkara: I'm sure there's some obscure reason why Sith only use red lightsabers in the continuity while the Jedi get all the other colors, but it seems kinda goofy to me. You'd think the people embracing emotion and passion would be the ones to have an entire rainbow of colors at their disposal.
(The following message pops up: "And yes, people told me about the artificial crystals. Still seems silly to me.")
Linkara (v/o): The Sith has his standard-issue evil mask that even has tusks coming out of the mouth.
Linkara: They're not there for intimidation value, the Sith just like having a convenient beer bottle opener.
Linkara (v/o): Annikin fends off the Sith long enough for the father to return and, well, pull a Darth Maul on this guy.
Linkara: Not surprising, really. It's not as if the Sith had a leg to stand on. (audience boos) Whaaaaat, whaaaat?
Linkara (v/o): The dad is naturally saddened upon seeing the Deak dead– er, I mean, the dead Deak. And while the artwork by Mike Mayhew is excellent in conveying both action and emotion, sometimes the somewhat photorealistic faces make me scratch my head. (camera zooms in on the father's face, with his mouth open, as he holds up his dead son) Like here, where it looks like the father is about to... well...
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Night of the Blood Beast)
Mike: Honey, what I'm about to say might sound strange, but I think we should eat this corpse.
(Back to the Star Wars comic)
Linkara (v/o): And then there's Annikin's expression here, which seems less sad and more pouting.
Linkara: Which (shrugs) I suppose would make him match his namesake.
Linkara (v/o): They burn Deak's body and take the Sith ship.
Father: Son, pilot a course for Aquilae.
Annikin: We're going home?
Father: We both need a rest.
Linkara: (as father) We both need a vacation. Set a course for the Atlantic City planet.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to Alderaan, the capital of the new Galactic Empire, where a group of Star Destroyers are flying over the Plaza of the Daders. "Day-ders"? "Dad-ders"? "Daughters"? And yes, those are indeed Star Destroyers flying low over a plaza.
Star Destroyer pilot: All right, boys, let's impress our Emperor. Superiors, break left and roll!
(A clip of The Empire Strikes Back is shown: a Star Destroyer is flying, while "Danger Zone" from Top Gun plays in the background; cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Actually, Star Destroyers were originally fighter craft. I do wonder about the aerodynamics of that. It's essentially a big metal paper airplane. Or flying Doritos. Anyway, while they strafe the assembled at the Plaza, the Emperor is preparing to give a big speech. The Emperor in this version is this Sinestro-looking dude, which I suppose makes more sense. I've never understood how the Emperor in Star Wars got away with spending all his time in black robes and cloaks and capes all day. He really made speeches and attended political dinners and stuff in a hood? Dude made an appearance at a get-out-the-vote dressing like he was a wizard at a Renaissance Faire? Anyway, the speech is about their new campaign.
Emperor: We must conquer the Aquilean System--last refuge of the outlawed and vile sect of the Jedi!
Linkara: (as one spectator) Boo! You're not funny! (as another spectator) Bring out Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes!
Emperor: ...I have personally asked the Aquileans to accept the Treaty of Alliance. During the long period of negotiation, they have decided only to be undecided.
(Cut to a clip of Futurama, showing Zapp Brannigan addressing Kif)
Zapp: I hate these filthy neutrals, Kif. With enemies, you know where they stand, but with neutrals, who knows?
(Cut back to the Star Wars comic)
Linkara (v/o): As everyone celebrates the announcement of the annexing of the territory, including proto-Stormtroopers in the crowd that actually resemble some alternate Halo armor, one person walks away, and we soon find him at a bar. His name is Whitsun, which I'm sure is supposed to be pronounced "WHITE-sun".
(BECAUSE POOR LITERACY... IS THE WILL OF THE FORCE)
Linkara (v/o): And before anyone says it's just a matter of stylizing it, bear in mind that this universe features people named Skywalker and Starkiller. You don't need to stylize things after that. Anyway, Whitsun is going up to the fur-coated guy named Bail Antilles. And while I should be focused on their conversation, I'm just sort of curious what sort of classy bar has a lounge sofa like that, where you can apparently sunbathe. Anyway, Antilles tells Whitsun that the Empire has grounded all spacecraft, so his trade frigates aren't going anywhere. Whitsun realizes that the Empire isn't "waiting for this Alliance Treaty" to be done with before they make their move against the Aquileans, which I thought was the entire point of the Emperor's speech a second ago. However, before they can talk anymore, Antilles is arrested, as are all other trade guild officers. Before he's taken off, Antilles recommends Whitsun go ask a pirate for help.
Linkara: Ooh, there's a thought. Anyone ever tried to make a lightsaber (shapes his hand like a hook) hook-hand?
Linkara (v/o): We cut over to Darth Vader. Behold Darth Vader: no mask, but similar fashion stylings, plus red eyes. He's in a room with Governor Hodak...
Linkara: Who dat? Hodak.
Linkara (v/o): ...who has been put in charge of the Aquilean region for when the Empire conquers it. He wants Darth Vader to lighten up a bit, but someone else in the room objects. (he sees who it is that made the objection: Vantos Coll) NO, DEAR GOD! IT'S THE ABSORBALOFF FROM LOVE AND MONSTERS!
Linkara: Lucas, we're sorry about not accepting Jar Jar Binks! We will take him over Love and Monsters!
Linkara (v/o): Good Lord, you sapient lump of mashed potatoes, put on some pants! Well, I'm hurling insults at the guy, but he's not actually that annoying or anything, he just reminds me of awful, awful television. Anyway, the Governor is celebrating the coming conquest and how much power it will gain them, but the talking pile of lard says he shouldn't be so confident.
Vantos: Don't underestimate the armies of Aquilae. They are led by a Jedi.
Linkara: (as Vantos) You know them, their stats are always far too up. Someone should really Nerf them.
Linkara (v/o): Darth Vader doesn't believe the Jedi still exist.
Gov. Hodak: General, I've told you about our Supreme Tribunal member Vantos Coll. He worries a lot about legends and myths.
Linkara: (as Hodak) I mean, he actually believes in the Helix Fossil. Weirdo.
Vantos: General Skywalker is no myth. When I first arrived at court, he was first bodyguard to the Emperor! It was he who led the Jedi Rebellion.
Darth Vader: Seig Darklighter led the Rebellion.
Vantos: So the Emperor would have you believe. But I was there.
Linkara: (as Vantos) I was there, Lord Vader. I was there when the courage of Jedi failed.
Vantos: He's there, all right... I can sense it. Mark my words -- Aquilae will not easily be conquered.
Linkara (v/o): Is it just me or has this dialog been reversed? Shouldn't Vader be the one who can sense a presence and believe an old enemy is still alive, and the overweight bureaucrat be the one disbelieving of anything? We cut to Aquilae itself, where we are greeted by the most important part of Star Wars mythology: trade negotiations. I kid, actually. It is about that, but in this case, it's political and economic stuff relating to the coming war. The king of Aquilae, Kayos, is hoping to get trade support from large companies to economically support them if war breaks out. But the "chrome companies" fear imperial trade restrictions.
Linkara: (mock alarm) No more chrome?! How will Google survive?!
Linkara (v/o): One guy demands that the king just sign the damn treaty and that General Skywalker has no chance of mounting any resistance against the Empire. However, Skywalker himself walks in, and he's actually kind of badass-looking. His uniform resembles the Star Trek uniforms from Wrath of Khan and whatnot, just white and with a cape. I WANT THIS OUTFIT!
Linkara: And now you understand my fashion choice for this episode. (holds up his cape) Plus, in "Star Wars", everyone wears capes.
Linkara (v/o): He says they have to make a decision about this.
Senator Nash: General Skywalker, war is serious business, a deadly business.
Linkara: It is?! Since when?!
Gen. Skywalker: Senator Nash, procrastination is a deadly business.
Linkara (v/o): Wait, "Senator Nash"?!
(In a computer room in space, the Empire logo is seen on a window, with the back of a chair to the camera, as the Imperial March plays in the background. The chair turns around to reveal Nash himself vaping)
Nash: Yes, Linkara, it is I, Imperial Senator Nash.
Linkara: When the hell did this happen?!
Nash: Tuesday. I decided it was time for a change in profession. This way, I will be in a galaxy far, far away. From Florida.
Linkara: So now you work for the Empire and the Dark Side of the Force.
Nash: Indeed, young prick. And now... you will die.
(He pushes on his vaping mechanism, which is actually a disguised lightsaber. But he's holding it down, and it hits him in the foot)
Nash: OH, JESUS, OW!! (falls over) God!
Linkara: You okay?
Nash: I feel like a rainbow...
(Back to the comic)
Skywalker: Have you approved my defense measures, Tarkin?
Tarkin: My sacerdotal colleagues and I believe an actual war with the Empire is still only a remote possibility.
Linkara (v/o): "Sacerdotal"? Yeah, here's your vocabulary lesson for the day, relating to priests or the priesthood.
Linkara: So Grand Moff Tarkin in this version is the Reverend High Defense Secretary?
Linkara (v/o): On the plus side, if he's still played by Peter Cushing in this, that means he's overly qualified to fight Dracula. I'm really curious how they decided to change all the names around for the final version the film? Did they take all the names from the original script, put them in a hat, and each actor picked out what they actually were going to become? The king says he'll make a final decision on the treaty soon enough, but suddenly, his two kids, Biggs and Windy... Windy? Seriously? Before becoming a king, were you the weatherman? ...run inside and inform him that his other daughter Leia is leaving, and they need to say goodbye to her. And indeed, we cut to the farewell of Princess Leia, who's still sporting the bun hair in this version. She's going off to college...
Linkara: ...which probably explains how a princess suddenly hooks up with a rebellion...
Linkara (v/o): ...and everybody wishes her well.
King: The semester will be over before you know it. You'll have a grand time, Leia. There are so many new things to learn--
Linkara: (as King) Like those new holographic cell phones. How do you kids keep up with all this technology these days?
King: --I wish I were going.
Linkara: (as King) But my entire fraternity was expelled after we turned that astro mech droid into a beer keg.
King: May the Force of others be with you all.
Linkara: When you say it like that, doesn't that just mean (makes an "air quote") "May you possess other people's guns"?
Linkara (v/o): We cut to the Aquilae war room where General Skywalker is trying to figure out if the Empire is going to attack soon.
Skywalker: I don't know...it doesn't feel good.
Linkara: (as Skywalker) I've got a feeling about this, but I don't know if it's a bad one yet.
Linkara (v/o): Annikin and his father suddenly storm into the war room, where we see that the Aquilean guards are pretty crappy against their masterful tactic of... shoving them. However, we finally get a name for our Jedi friend: Kane Starkiller. Turns out Starkiller and Skywalker are old pals, and Kane had been assumed dead. Annikin, in the meantime, seems to have his eyes set on a redhead that he no doubt hopes to... (clears throat) show his lightsaber to later. They head to a meeting room to talk privately, discussing how the Empire has been chasing them halfway across the universe. Kane wants Luke Skywalker – and yes, the one who likes Obi-Wan is in fact Luke Skywalker – to train Annikin as his Padawan. Luke wonders why Kane doesn't just finish the training himself, since he was always a superior Jedi.
Kane: I'm too old, Luke. I can't go on... You must finish it.
Linkara: (as Luke) But I'm old, too. Look how white my hair and beard are. (as Kane) For crying out loud, Luke, you bleached your hair for a cosplay and didn't realize the material was permanent!
Luke: What kind of talk is this? That's not the Starkiller I remember!
Kane: (slamming his fist on the glass table) I'm not the same Starkiller!
Linkara: (as Kane) I'm much more restrained and composed!
Linkara (v/o): However, punching his arm in the glass table has caused it to... uh, explode. Kane tears off part of his shirt to reveal that he is in fact a cyborg.
Kane: There is nothing left of me but my head and right arm.
Linkara: Oh, that's okay. That just means you're the remake Robocop. You can still train him.
Linkara (v/o): Wait a minute. A cybernetic knight in space with most of his organic material removed while having to fight a group of evil space wizards?
Linkara: Holy crap, George Lucas created "ROM Spaceknight"!
Linkara (v/o): Actually, it's pretty clear from this revelation that Kane can't train him anymore. I mean, for crying out loud, just hitting a glass table caused his arm to explode. That's not a good sign for your cyborg. Kane reveals that he's dying and he keeps losing control; hence, his little outburst there. But yeah, because of this, he's in no shape to train Annikin to become a Jedi bendy straw.
Kane: The Jedi-Bendu must survive. We must pass it on. Only a Jedi can stop the Empire.
Linkara: (as Kane) There is literally nothing else that could bring down the Empire!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with a guy running inside to inform Luke Skywalker that something big is approaching the planet, like an asteroid or solid comet.
Linkara: (looking thoughtful) Hmm... (makes an "air quote") "That's no solid comet" doesn't really have the same ring to it, does it? (holds up comic) This comic... is actually pretty good.
Linkara (v/o): Obviously, there are still seven more issues where I could be disappointed, and we will most definitely be coming back to this later in the year, but for now, it's got my attention. The artwork is expressive, and I love painted styles, especially when they're as detailed as this. The writing's not too bad, either. I actually love the emotional reaction Kane had and the revelation of his cyborg nature. It's genuinely heartbreaking, though I would've preferred that if they going to kill off a child so early in the story, that it would've had more of an impact on him and Annikin. Hell, when you're one-upped on the importance of a child death to the story by Face-Off of all things, there's something wrong. That being said, I am of course curious how much of this would have actually made it to screen had this script been used. Right now, there's a lot of little bits of plot, but very little character revealed. However, it is still the first issue, and it does a decent job of putting us into the story, though I admit that may be that because we have the experience of so much Star Wars already, we're familiar enough with the material that it makes it easier to ease into.
Linkara: Next week, we go from the beginning of one series to the end of another, with "Batman: Jazz".
No, but seriously – what the hell are the "Whills?"
Come on down to Wato's "Discount Cyborg Emporium." We'll match the rates of any other cybernetic surgeon on the market!
(Stinger: The panel of Luke, Kane and Annikin around the glass table is shown again)
Linkara (v/o): (as Luke) Look, Kane, I'd love to train Annikin in the ways of the Jedi-Bendu, but I have to go to Tashi Station to pick up some power converters.