Thursday, April 11, 2013

Star Wars Rediscovered: Classic Star Wars: Volume 1: In Deadly Pursuit Review

“Whoever he is, The Force is with him. An eventuality I wasn’t prepared for...this time”

Welcome to my third review in my Star Wars Rediscovered column! This time I will be reviewing Classic Star Wars Volume 1: In Deadly Pursuit. This volume collects the first seven issues of the comic book series that itself collected the original newspaper strips.

Classic Star Wars Volume 1: In Deadly Pursuit imageClassic Star Wars: Volume 1: In Deadly Pursuit

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Al Williamson, Allen Nunis
Steve Buccellato, Matthew Hollingsworth

Collects issues #1-7

This volume is set after A New Hope

Cover Art

The main cover art for this collection shows Luke Skywalker racing to rescue a hopefully unconscious Princess Leia from a humanoid frog and a robot type man. It's quite a dynamic cover. You can tell who each character is but the faces aren't great. You can tell who they are thanks to the clothes that they are wearing and the colour of their hair but their faces are a bit non-descript. The cover shows what hopes to be a good example of the adventure that we will get from this collection. I do quite like the action scene that we are presented with, Luke is shown jumping down to rescue Leia lightsaber drawn and the antagonists have drawn their guns in surprise about to shoot him. The use of colours isn't anything exciting, they are quoted muted, with the overall colour being brown.


Story #1

The basic plot for this first story deals with Luke and Leia searching for a new base for the Rebels. The planet is definitely not suitable, due to the Stormtroopers who promptly blow up their ship and then go hunting for them. I am not happy with how Leia is represented in these opening scenes, she mentions that she is a pretty tough lady and yet spends the majority of the time stuttering whenever she speaks, I can see that this is a technique to show that she is nervous but it just makes her seem weak and not the strong woman that we know and love from the movies. Han Solo's characterisation doesn't disappoint at least, he swoops in and rescues them both and is brash and cocky with Leia just how he should be.

Story #2

This second plot is about the Falcon needing repairs due to a risky maneuver Han performs to escape some Imperials. Unfortunately the planet that he chooses to get the Falcon repaired turns out not to be a good choice. There just happens to be two bounty hunters who see Solo as a  chance for a great payout. These two bounty hunters kidnap Luke and Leia using stun blasters and tell Han that they will trade them for him. Their plan is foiled however, Han tricks them into thinking that Chewie was going to try and rescue them all in the Falcon by automatically keeping its engines warming, Chewie instead arrived in a Cargo Flyer and used its tractor beam to rescue them after they had jumped off the platform to avoid being shot.  Skorr manages to keep track of the Falcon using a secret homing beacon in Luke's lightsaber, Luke senses the beacon and Han finds and removes it. They manage to evade both Skorr and the Imperials after them by putting the homing beacon in a Lifepod which takes the bounty hunters into the tractor beam of the Imperial ship, their punishment is a trip to the space mines of Kessel!

This second story is fairly enjoyable if not predictable with Han and Chewie again rescuing Luke and Leia. It is during this second story that Leia tells Han just what she thinks about his attempts to show his affection for her. She tells him that she is not currently interested in a relationship with him due to her commitments to the Rebellion. This very much implies that once the Empire is destroyed she would be interested in a relationship with him. This feels true to what we know about the characters at this stage in their development. However the depth I want is not here but this may be too much to ask from stories that were originally created for newspapers.

Story #3

The third story in this collection is all about Darth Vader! In a nutshell we think that his admiral is betraying him to the Rebels by giving the the chance to destroy his secret base but in fact it is a ploy by Vader to catch his disloyal admirals and a Rebel spy. Unfortunately for Vader he doesn't foresee that this spy would be a Force user who manages to learn some important information about Vader's base and then escape with a woman who fancies him.

Darth Vader's characterisation in this story is really interesting, when we are introduced to him he is destroying a replica of the Falcon using the Force to guide his ships weapons, this proves to him that he can destroy the Rebels by using something bigger and better than they have. This shows quite clearly that his failure to stop the destruction of the Death Star affected him a lot. He is also shown to be as ruthless as ever, by Force choking an officer who objected to his plan.  

The main thing that annoyed me about Luke during this story is that he has the habit of talking out loud about being a spy to Threepio! which seems a very foolish thing to do, especially when he is surrounded by nothing but those loyal to the Empire.

Vader gives Luke up at the end far too easily for my liking, it seems that he is almost afraid of this unexpected anonymous Force user and so let's him escape.

Story #4

This and story #5 are probably my favourites of this first volume. In this story we are introduced to the Serpent Masters who are slavers and scavengers, they use equipment from all over the galaxy, including Storm Trooper armour! This immediately makes them look threatening and an unknown quantity.

This story is about Luke and Tanith who is the woman who helped him escape from Vader trying to escape from the Serpent Masters who enslave them a rule with an iron fist thanks to their control of the serpents. Good ol' Artoo saves the day however thanks to him noticing that they control the serpents using an ultra sonic signal, he copies this which allows Luke to fight the master and free them all.

The use of stuttering to to portray fear is again used in this story, the culprit this time being Luke. It might just be me but I really don't like the technique.

Story #5

I really liked the concept of this story. We basically have an old scientist of the Empire who is dying due to a failed experiment, he is choosing to spend his final days luring his enemies into a star that he has caused to collapse. This is a seriously bitter old man! He lures the Falcon in and then tells them that if they try and stop him he has bombs rigged to explode his ship and them all with it. Han and Luke however manage to get his detonator off him and then use the bombs to blast their way free from the collapsing star, a very cool escape!

Story #6

This last story is not complete within this volume, it ends rather abruptly. The Rebel base is being attacked by the Empire and so our heroes can't go there after they have escaped from the previous story and so Leia takes them to Aquaris a water planet which is home to a group who have just joined the Rebels. Han knows their leader however and does not trust her.

Han and Luke have a conversation about the secret data R2 has and we can see that they are being spyed upon! Han knows this thankfully and has a device that can detect listening devices and so mentions the secret data to bait the rebels into betraying them and so prove to Leia that they can't be trusted. Volume 1 ends abruptly with the female leader forcing them to go on a hunting party.

There is not really enough of this story within the volume for me to have an opinion on whether I like it or not. I think the concept is intriguing and leaves us wondering who will end up betraying who.

We shall find out in Volume 2!

Interior Art

I generally found the interior artwork to be quite disappointing. You can tell that the series was originally created for newspaper strips as everything is very unclear and bland. However if you enjoy reading newspaper comic strips then you may find something to enjoy here. There are however moments when the artwork improves. Here are a few examples, there is a quite good panel of an AT-AT seemingly killing Luke and Leia in the first story, even though it's a limited colour palette it looks good, especially like the shadowy AT-AT. Once they are back in the Falcon the glow of yellow on the characters that could be from the Falcon's displays is really nice and works well. We do also get randomly a few pages that were evidently modified for the comic book form as behind the usual three panels we very occasionally get a full page illustration, the first one being a scene of a city and trees, which is quite a nice background. These moments of nice art are few and far between unfortunately and do not lift the general level of quality up much. There are many more instances where the art completely fails, the most common downfall is about faces, there are many times when either Han or Luke and even Chewie do not look remotely like themselves, in one panel Luke looked more like Han than himself!

Conclusion & Rating

To conclude this volume is generally disappointing, it is severely hampered by the fact that it was originally designed for newspaper strips and so is not able to make the most of the comic book format. The artwork is generally average at best and some times just terrible. Also the plot does not have the level of depth that I look for and simply repeats itself far too much. If you love newspaper strips then you may find something to like here, if not then look elsewhere, they are many more Star Wars comic books that are more worth your time.

Rating: 4/10 - Hutts

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Tony Nichols said...

Wow... you find the artwork of Al Williamson "generally terrible"... that pretty much negated your whole review.

Adrian Roberts said...

I said it was generally average and some times terrible, I simply wasn't a fan.

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