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Zadzooks: Star Wars review (Nos. 1 to 3, Dark Horse Comics)

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The heroic escapades of the Rebel Alliance and its guerrilla war against the mighty Empire again come to light in the monthly comic-book series Star Wars (Dark Horse Comics, $2.99 each).

The first three issues takes readers back to the time period right after the first Death Star was destroyed by Luke Skywalker, who was part of a gusty X-Wing squadron.

Now, the rebellion is in need of a new home, after being discovered on Yavin 4, and the Emperor is out to crush all parts of the Alliance.

Writer Brian Wood crafts a tale that attempts to dig deeper into the escalating conflict by tying together plot lines dealing with profound loss.

For example, Luke has lost a mentor in Obi-Wan Kenobi and his adopted parents and is taking some time to heal with help from new female teammate, the Chalactan Prithi.

Or, Leia Organa who lost her entire planet of Alderaan and loved ones with a single shot from the Death Star. She pilots an X-Wing to forget, is not afraid to kill the enemy at point-blank range and takes command of an elite squadron with a mission to root out a spy.

Darth Vader deals with a loss of respect from the Emperor for not protecting the Death Star and command of his famed Star Destroyer the Devastator while taking his anger out his new underlings.

And, the scruffy Han Solo has simply lost his senses by stupidly performing a not-so-covert mission on the planet Coruscant and expecting no one will notice.

The rogue actually believes Jabba the Hutt gave up on him. A certain bounty hunter does not agree with the assessment.

Now, I remember back in the 1970s when Marvel Comics offered extended adventures from the first trilogy of Star Wars films, but it more tickles my nostalgia funny bone these days than is fondly recalled for its brilliance.

This series has potential with plenty of drama to tap into and some new characters to enjoy (Tess Alder from Corella and celebrated TIE pilot Colonel Bircher to name a few) but not much can be attributed to artist Carlos D'Anda.

No disrespect to Mr. D'Anda (his work on Batman: Arkham City was slick) but his cartoony, exaggerated style does not work for me. I can handle his ship designs but if it were not for a signature hairstyle or piece of clothing, I would have a hard time realizing I was looking at Leia Organa or Mon Mothma.

Considering the potential importance of the series to the Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars license, I would have gotten the best of the best artists to handle the source material. If the publisher has the legendary Alex Ross painting the covers, then why not go all in and let him paint a 12-issue story arc?

Or, go choose a handful of artists already familiar with the material who have done an amazing job with the Star Wars' comics such as Jan Duursema, Agustin Alessio or coax Adam Hughes into an extended project.

By the way, I think the choice of Mike Mayhew for the upcoming The Star Wars comic series is perfect.

Dark Horse also gives owners a code in each issue (revealed by peeling back a sticker) for access to read the book via a computer or mobile device. That's a great idea.

However, bundle that digital treat and the decision to use Mr. D'Anda and it allows his efforts to be even more closely scrutinized.

Suffice to report, reading any comic book on an iPad is truly an eye-popping experience, especially with the ability to zoom in and carefully absorb each art panel.

Still, with the new monthly Star Wars, multigenerations can read about some legendary characters from a galaxy far, far, away.

And remember, the sequential-art connoisseur now gets the best of both worlds as he can collect and slab a hard copy of the issue and appreciate the artwork at his leisure through the digital format.

Note: I just found out that Dark Horse Comics is only offering a download code for the first three issues of the series. That's unfortunate for the collector.

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