Saturday, February 24, 2018
Home  >  Features  >  STAR WARS Volume 1 - A MightyVille Roundtable Review


In January 2013, Dark Horse Comics brought their Star Wars readership to its collective knees by doing something they'd never done before: Create a Star Wars comic set within the continuity of the films and bring on top name creators! The result was their top-selling new Star Wars Ongoing Series by the prolific Brian Wood and Carlos D'Anda. We received a copy of the first graphic novel collection, In The Shadow of Yavin, from our friends at Dark Horse and gathered MightyVille luminaries Sommer K., Geoff D., and Joe Kach to read it and tell you all about it.

[WARNING: Potential spoilers ahead!]  


Alright MightyFolks, let's get started!

What was your initial reaction when you heard Brian Wood would be writing a Star Wars series set in the movie universe? Good Idea/Bad Idea?

Geoff D.: A recognized name was a good sign. I have read a lot of star wars comics over the years and most are middle of the road at best. Dark Horse is taking two awesome attempts to change this. 1) This comic and 2) The Star Wars, the one based on the concept art and original 1973 draft George Lucas submitted to 20th Century Fox.

Joe Kach: I'm on the same page there.

Sommer K.: Nice.

JK: I had not read much by Wood, I admit, but I knew his name and he has a large following. I think Sommer has read some of his Northlanders.

GD: Northlanders! That book is great. Vikings meets Game of Thrones.

JK: He co-wrote some X-Books with Warren Ellis in the early 2000's, Generation X, I think. I have not read Northlanders.

SK: I really enjoyed Northlanders. But it is very different from Star Wars, so I thought it was a little bit of an odd choice. but a good writer is a good writer, so still a good sign.

GD: Yes, Northlanders is very grounded ... Star Wars is ... not.

SK: Exactly. It is almost historical. Not fantastical like Star Wars.



It seems like you all agree that you were happy when it was announced Brian Wood was taking the reigns?


JK: First time I looked forward to a Star Wars comic, to be sure!

SK: Yes happy, but surprised.

GD: Yes, good choice.  It's a good move.  Two Star Wars comics out by Dark Horse right now that are both drawing mass attention and both are getting love from Star Wars fans outside of the comic mainstream. People in the Star Wars SubReddit are all in a tizzy about both books, and these are people who do not read comics.

SK: Rrrrrrraaaarrrrrr!! I speaks the Wookie!

JK: Which is always good. Both bringing mainstream attention to comics and speaking "The Wookie".



Now that you've read it, what are your thoughts on the art and coloring?


GD: Love the art! Clean. The thing I love most is a good depiction of movement in dogfights. That is what sold it for me.

JK: Yes, definitely clean. A bit stiff at times, though. Carlos D'Anda; he previously worked on Thundercats, the Arkham Asylum video game comic, and recently on Justice League filling in for Jim Lee. And, yeah, the dogfights definitely stood out in this first volume. Over-all, I enjoyed D'anda's take on the characters. Sometimes it was hard to tell who was who though under a helmet, but that's to be expected.

GD: Good Darth Vader.  Made him look menacing.

JK: Yes! Loved his take on Vader! It's up there with Travis Charest and Dave Dorman.

SK: I think the art is great and the coloring is fantastic. It really adds the "Space-Age" feel. And I love that you can tell that the character renditions are based on the actors, but they still have their own feel and look. That must be hard to achieve.

JK: Good point. Han Solo definitely looked like Han Solo without it being a trace over of Harrison Ford.

SK: And he does a good job on the dogfights for sure.

GD: And no background cheating going on. Almost all panels have background details, even if its just space.

JK: Another good point, something rare in comics today.

SK: I love how he makes Chewbacca look more like a bad-ass renegade.

JK: I really dug his Chewbacca, gave him a jungle "freedom fighter" feel.

SK: I did get frustrated with not being able to tell who was who under the helmets, but honestly, the same thing happens when I watch the movies.

JK: So, what about the coloring by Gabe Eltaeb? My problem with coloring in a lot of Sci-Fi is that it's a bit to bright and neon-y compared to how it's "meant" to look, if that makes sense. But I thought it worked well here.

GD: Well, this is based on the original Star Wars universe, which is mostly gray, black, and brown, so I like it's muted tone.

JK: The colors really shined on the iPad compared to the printed version too-- just an FYI to the digital haters out there!

GD: Color only comes into play with laser shots.

SK: Yeah, jungle freedom fighter!! Rrrooooooaaaaaarrrrr!!

JK: Umm, I think Sommer's iPad is on a lag...

GD: Did you know they had to put an orange vest on Chewy while filming Return of The Jedi in the redwood forest to keep hunters from thinking he was Bigfoot and taking a shot at him?

SK: Ha!

JK: "It's Bigfoot! A mythical treasure! Kill it!"

SK: The poor suckers thought they finally were gonna take down Bigfoot. :( And still, he roams...



What were your thoughts about the first issue?


SK; I was a bit disappointed. I thought it was a little clunky, like Wood wasn't comfortable with the characters yet.

GD: The first issue was fine, save for too much narration. Cover the art with dialogue, not narration.

SK: Yes, I agree with Geoff.

JK: Yeah, I definitely wasn't as blown away as I thought I would be. And I felt like sometimes the character voices were off. The art was "out of this world" though. Bazinga!

GD: I never felt the voices were off, honestly. But the first issue lacked any kind of real punch. I think the arc really hit its stride in issue three.

JK: Well, Luke Skywalker for example. He's a bit of a goober in A New Hope. But in the first issue of the comic, he came off as an overconfident Hal Jordan-type. Which isn't really how he's played in The Empire Strikes Back.

GD: Actually, he's a warrior by Empire, confident, so you are wrong.

JK: I may be, I haven't seen Empire in quite some time.

GD: By Empire he is out on his own, killing Wampas, and taking off to visit Yoda, all while downing AT-ATs. And that's within the first 30 minutes. This is "I've got my shit together" Luke.



How about the introduction of the new characters?


JK: I think Prithi and Colonel Bircher, who takes over for Vader, are new additions.

GD: I like Prithi

JK: She adds a bit more ethnic variety to the Star Wars Universe. Lots of aliens, but the Humans were all White, with Lando Calrissian and few other exceptions.

GD: "Master race". And Wedge is Wedge, same as always.  I have read him in books and comics since I was 12. But Prithi is new and I like her.

SK: So, is she going to die? Why isn't she in any of the other stories?

JK: Excellent question, Sommer.

GD: Well, she's Wood's own creation. She's a good character because at this point there is still the "love" triangle of Han, Princess Leia, and Luke. We all know how this is going to end, more or less...

SK: Yeah, the love triangle is disturbing when you already know they are brother and sister.

JK: Ick. And the flirting seemed a bit heavy, especially knowing what was coming.

GD: Between who?

JK: Leia and Luke

SK: That's why it is disturbing, because the comic makes it way more dragged out. Like, yuck, how long is she going to flirt with her brother for?

GD: Hell, Lucas didn't even know at this point!

JK: I know Lucas did not know then, but we know now. Also, the Prithi-flirting was a bit heavy-handed, too, but that's fine I guess...

GD: No, it was very heavy handed! Almost too much, forced and over-the-top. Prithi comes on very strong.

JK: "Luke SKywalker, you're my HERO!" So, the flirting was a bit much on both fronts. "That's what Prithi said." Boom.

GD: LOLZ. But overall, I like her. She is fun and I like that she throws a wrench into Luke's quest to deep-dick his sister.

SK: LOL ... I like the side mystery of figuring out who the spy is. That is a hook for me.

GD: Ah yes, the elusive spy

JK: So, the "spy" ... why would you take someone out on a scouting trip for a NEW HOME BASE when trying to see if they are a traitor?

GD: Major fail, in my opinion. Y'know, is there even a spy? We still don't know as of the end of the volume.

JK: Lack of closure.

SK: It seems to be leading to something bigger ... that will all be resolved by Empire. It's cool, but I hate that you know how it's all going to end already.

GD: I actually dig the idea of a story that just tells the road in-between known points. We know the planet they will eventually find is Hoth, but the characters at the beginning of Empire are VERY different from those at the end of A New Hope.

JK: While I do like "fill in the gaps" tales, I still am not excited that we know the ultimate ending. No fault to the creative team, of course. There are quite a few new plots introduced that have my attention that are not part of the films, though.

SK: What about the aliens that wear burlap sacks and say "dink dink"?

JK: I think you're referencing Space Balls, Sommer, but that's OK. I actually think I know Balls better than Wars ... words to live by, kids.

SK: Use The Schwartz, bitches!

GD: No, the Schwartz was not in the Star Wars films ... So, back to the story!  I really liked it a lot.  The major fault for me was the fact that there was no development as to where the Rebel intel leak came from ... not even a hint.  But i loved the rest, I loved the use of the Interdictor Cruiser with its Grav Well Generators.

JK: Yeah ... those things...

GD: Those are a huge part of the video games and novels, but never seen in the films. I also really enjoyed the Han Solo story in this.  I felt Wood captured his voice and I liked that it played on the fact that at the end of A New Hope, Han was still a wanted man. Issue two starts with Boba Fett already on his tail!

JK: Yeah, I like that Fett is introduced via his star cruiser, we don't see him right away ... Wait, is he even in the book?

GD: Yes, he's in #4 through #6.

JK: Oh ... I may have been drinking while reading the second half of the trade. We'll edit that part out! [Editor's Note: Noooooope!]

SK: Wooooooaaaaaaaf!! (That's "more fucking whiskey!" In Wookie.)

JK: Sommer's on the same page.

GD: And the dealings with the underworld on Coruscant were great. Most of that imagery comes from The Clone Wars animated show.  Wood is drawing on many sources for this, makes me feel like he really put his research time in.

JK: Another good point, and I knew Wood "would"!



How about how the first volume closed?


GD: A good start, but fails as a standalone read. But I want more, and am looking forward to the next part.

JK: I agree. I felt the same way about the end of Volume 1 as I did about issue #1: Good read, but not what I was hoping for. Maybe I had too high of expectations, I dunno. And no, it doesn't really work as a standalone, there is no real resolution to anything.

GD: So. as a die-hard Star Wars fan, I really liked it.  I dug the art and loved the attention to detail and Star Wars lore. The story lacked in a few places, but it was fun to read and makes me want to pick up the next volume. I will definitely be sticking with it as long as this spy arc is going and as long as Wood is on the book. Ideally, I would like to see it end with the establishment of the Rebel base on Hoth. Oh, last note on story ... Darth Vader. I love Vader stories, those are my favorite Star Wars comics.  I think the Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader story is so tragic and so little is told from his point of view while he is in the suit.

JK: Shakesperean.


Which character takes stood out the most, positively or negatively?


GD: Leia was awesome in this book. Strong, confident, and spot on.

JK: Speaking of Vader, I think his plight really stuck with me. You don't usually see him get to be someone else's bitch. And yes, Leia was awesome.

GD: Just remember, the thing that drives him ... the thing he hates the most, the thing that makes him so powerful, is that he hates himself.

SK: Wow, I never thought about that...

GD: Vader murdered his own pregnant wife because he lost his tempter, then tried to kill his best friends.  He hates himself. The suit is a trap.

JK: Yeah, or he's fucking nuts.

GD: No! Not nuts, not at all, just very angry...

SK: Was that in the third prequel, Revenge of The Sith?

GD: Yes. 

SK: I feel so clueless because I totally slept through Episodes II and III, so I have a huge gap in the story.

JK: I recall the prequels less than I do the originals. Actually, I think most of my Star Wars knowledge comes from references in other films...

SK: OK, "Kevmo". [Editor's Note: Sommer is referencing Kevin Smith.]

GD: Vader knows what he did was so wrong, but once he crossed that line, you just gotta stay mad.  Like when you are in a fight with someone and you know you are wrong, but fuck it, you will stay mad anyways.

JK: I never know I'm wrong, Geoff.

SK: I love that kind of story. I actually think that a lot of people reach turning points like that in their lives. Some things ... the best evil characters are just normal people who did something that they can never take back.

GD: Or they are convinced that what they are doing is "for the best".

JK: But best for whom? A true villain never sees themselves as a bad guy. Vader definitely fits that bill.

GD: Greater good. He said it himself: "I am bringing peace to my new Empire."

SK: I think they tell themselves it's for the best after they realize they can't turn back.

JK: "Well, no turning back now, may as well go full evil asshole"



Would someone who has not seen any Star Wars films be lost if they started reading this series?

GD: Yes, totally.

SK: No.


JK: I would say "yes," also. Maybe not "lost", but will certainly have lots of questions.

SK: I think that may be what Wood was struggling with: How to tell a general story with very familiar characters and very specific storytelling boundaries.

GD: Well, let met think ...  I found a lot of joy in the book from referencing how characters were both similar and different from the movies that come before and after the comic. But a reader with just a passing knowledge of what happens in Star Wars might find a different joy in just judging the characters on the page for how they are portrayed. The Luke/Prithi/Leia thing plays out well whether you know the characters or not

SK: Honestly, I didn't know what was happening most of the time and I have seen all the films. So I am guessing that if I hadn't seen the films I still wouldn't know what was going on. Hee hee.

JK: The inclusion of new characters was key for this to achieve maximum storytelling.

GD: As a huge Star Wars geek, I definitely enjoyed how the book assumed I knew what was going on.

SK: Your mother is a Wookie! Rrrroooooaaaarrrraaa!!



Final verdict: should Dark Horse have done this series? Is it worthwhile? Will you keep reading?


GD: Yes, yes, yes! 

JK: Dark Horse should definitely have done this series

GD: It's a good book with a good grasp on characters, great art, and it's bringing people in who do not normally read Star Wars comics. Smart all-around, and a great place to set a story.

JK: I haven't seen this much attention given to Star Wars comics in years. Not since the early 90's when they released the Dark Empire series, the version where Luke joins the Dark Side

SK: Yes, yes, and probably not. I will instead finish reading Northlanders. It's just not my bag, baby! I'll just watch Star Wars through Jedi 100 more times.

JK: I'm on board through Volume Two. If it doesn't pick up then, I may need to drop off for a while.



A big thank you to both our roundtable participants and Dark Horse Comics for taking part in our little discussion! It's clear that Dark Horse has a winner on its hands, pleasing fans both new and old. Congratulations to Brian Wood and Carlos D'Anda for making Star Wars top of mind again amongst the comic book community. 


Roundtable's Ratings:

Geoff D. 


Joe Kach


Sommer K.


Star Wars Volume 1: In the Shadow of Yavin is available now from Dark Horse Comics. 


What do you say, readers? Liking this new take on the Star Wars mythos? What are some of your favorite Star Wars tales from Dark Horse?


More on MightyVille:

STAR WARS Double-Shot Advance Review

The Summer of Valiant: MightyVille's Roundtable Review

BEFORE WATCHMEN - A MightyVille Roundtable Review


Comments (2)
  • bjmorga  - Not Bad, Not Great
    I'm on the fence about this series. I don't feel like it's as strong as it should be, but it is good that DH managed to get Brian Wood on-board. I feel like the talent by the Star Wars books have been very flaccid lately. Woods brings a bit of creative heft with him. DH hasn't impressed me with many of their Star Wars books in the last couple of years. It makes me wish the "Star wars is moving to Marvel" rumors were true.

    I'm not terribly impressed with Leia in this book either. I'm not a fan of the X-Wing centric take on her character. It seems a little fake to me., almost like "Let's play Princess Leia dress up!" I seem to be in the minority on that opinion. Wood is known for his strong female characters, but I'm just not buying his take on Leia.

    Plus, I don't find the space battles to be particularly interesting in comic books. The first volume felt very, very focused on space dogfights. The immediacy and tension just don't translate well to the printed page.
  • Joe_Kach
    I agree, BJ, more or less. Definitely not as blown away by this as I was hoping to be, but recognize that it is better than the majority of Star Wars comic book material.

    And, like car or plane chases in comics, space battles are even harder to pull off, at least wiuth the same level of excitement that you would get seeing it live or animated. But, D'Anda does a good job with what he has to work with.

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