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Comics Review

Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back

Commander Skywalker, do you copy? This is Rogue Two.

Rogue Two, this is Commander Solo. Come in, Rogue Two.

Commander Solo, I read you load and clear. Are you okay, Commander?

Affirmative, Rogue Two. But Luke . . . Luke is dead.

Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back is an adventurous and thought-provoking “What if?” tale by writer Dave Land and artist Davidé Fabbri. It begins in tandem with the original The Empire Strikes Back script, but when a hero of the Rebellion dies before he can fulfill his destiny, history is forever altered.

The stage is lit, the curtain rises, and the battle for the galaxy begins as we are all too familiar with. But, what is familiar can become unfamiliar in the the blink of an eye. You see, the future is made possible through a series of events, like a chain whose links are defined by the laws of action and reaction. Alter a single link, and the overall position of the chain is altered. Like the position of the chain, the future can be altered by simply altering one of the events that led to it.

On the desolate ice planet of Hoth, Luke Skywalker patrols the frozen tundra surrounding Echo Base for signs of an Imperial invasion, but little does he know that his own problems are more immediate. A hungry wampa has been following Luke. It suddenly rises before him, severely injuring him and killing his tauntaun. Held captive in the wampa’s cave, Luke manages to free his lightsaber and make a daring escape into the frozen wasteland outside.

Alarmed by Luke’s disappearance, Han Solo mounts a rescue, despite the rapidly decreasing temperature. His tauntaun freezes early on during his search, forcing him to continue the rescue on foot. After several hours, he finds Luke lying face-first in the snow, delirious and near death. Before losing consciousness, Luke orders Han to go to the Dagobah system, find master Yoda, and train as a Jedi Knight. He does not live through the night.

Events begin to spin wildly out of control as a glitch in Echo Base’s shield allows a squadron of TIE fighters to accompany the Imperial invasion force and decimate Rogue Squadron.

Han Solo escapes with Princess Leia Organa, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2. His perilous journey to Dagobah will result in the death of Boba Fett, the destruction of Cloud City, a fateful reunion between C-3PO and his maker, the revelation of Luke Skywalker’s twin, and a final confrontation between father and daughter.

Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back will introduce you to a Star Wars that you never knew and never thought possible. Dave Land’s intricate story immediately departs from George Lucas’s script as he begins to ingeniously focus on a series of small events whose alterations will have a profound effect on the original course of history.

The “What if?” concept has been explored by almost every comic series to date. It gives us a way to experience familiar characters and familiar settings in an unfamiliar way. Has the Empire crushed the Rebellion? Will Han become a Jedi Knight? Does he have the strength needed to save the galaxy from the Empire, or will he bow before it? The possibilities are endless.

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This review was previously published on Splash Panel on September 23, 2006.

Categories
Comics Review

Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope

The torpedoes detonated prematurely, your Highness. I only hope enough damage was done to buy us some time. Princess, you must get to a transport immediately! The future of the Rebellion depends on your safety!

Future? I’ve seen what that battle station can do, General. The Rebellion has no future.

Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope is an adventurous and thought-provoking “What if?” tale by writer Chris Warner and artists Drew Johnson and Al Rio. It begins in tandem with the original A New Hope script, but when a key opportunity for the Rebellion is lost, history is forever altered.

The stage is lit, the curtain rises, and the battle for the galaxy begins as we are all too familiar with. But, what is familiar can become unfamiliar in the the blink of an eye. You see, the future is made possible through a series of events, like a chain whose links are defined by the laws of action and reaction. Alter a single link, and the overall position of the chain is altered. Like the position of the chain, the future can be altered by simply altering one of the events that led to it.

The Death Star looms like the harbinger of death over the Rebel base on Yavin IV. In its equatorial trench, Luke Skywalker begins his finial attack run. He fires his proton torpedoes and retreats to a safe distance with Han Solo and the remaining Rebel fighters, but the expected explosion never comes. The torpedoes had detonated just short of the reactor and the Death Star is still operational.

The Death Star retaliates by firing its primary weapon on Yavin IV, but the Imperial super weapon had sustained some damage from the premature detonation of the torpedoes and only fires with enough power to severely damage the Rebel base. Princess Leia Organa and the remaining Rebels retreat to their transports, but are taken prisoner by Darth Vader.

Luke, distracted by a dogfight on the opposite side of Yavin, believes that the Death Star’s first salvo had destroyed Yavin IV, thus murdering Leia and the rest of the Rebels. Luke and Han escape to Dagobah to find Master Yoda and complete Luke’s training as a Jedi Knight.

Meanwhile, under the care and tutelage of Darth Vader, Leia is appointed to a position as senator in the newly formed Imperial Senate, which she believes will place the Empire on a path to peace. Luke’s destiny as a Jedi and Leia’s place beside Vader will eventually lead to a final confrontation between both brother and sister.

Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope will introduce you to a Star Wars that you never knew and never thought possible. Chris Warner’s story immediately departs from George Lucas’s script into a tale that is just as intricate and captivating as the original.

The “What if?” concept has been explored by almost every comic series to date. It gives us a way to experience familiar characters and familiar settings in an unfamiliar way. Has the Rebellion been destroyed? Will the Empire prevail? Will Luke become a Jedi Knight? Will he save the galaxy, or destroy it? The possibilities are endless.

Related Reviews:

This review was previously published on Splash Panel on September 17, 2006.

Categories
Nostalgia Video

Star Wars: A Better Order

sworderIf you’re a Star Wars fan like me, or even just coming to know Star Wars, you’re probably planning to watch the films now that they’re all available digitally. After being inspired by The Machete Order, we decided to try our own take on the reorganized saga: I, IV, V, II, III, and VI. Except for my usual annoyance with Episode II, the new order was a much better experience than watching all six straight through, and here are some thoughts on why.

First, let’s get one thing out of the way, Star Wars is the story of Anakin Skywalker, not Luke Skywalker. Luke is in only three films, Anakin is in all six, it’s that simple. Now, what does that have to do with the new order? Everything. (spoilers below)

When watched in sequence from I to VI, the conclusion of Episode III completely robs the cliffhanger reveal in Episode V of all its meaning and shock value. “No, I am your father!” Vader, I know, we confirmed that two whole films ago. “No, that’s not true, that’s impossible!” Oh, it’s true, I saw it with my own eyes. “Search your feelings,” no need for that, I just re-watched the 1:16:40 mark of Episode III, it’s indeed true. This is what bothers me the most about the prequels, even more than Jar Jar Binks. “I am your father,” was one of the most profound reveals in cinema, but when watched with the prequels first, it’s not shocking at all, it’s expected.

When watched in my new preferred order (I, IV, V, II, III, VI), the “I am your father” reveal is still first and still shocking. We begin with Episode I to learn about the naive young Anakin Skywalker, who is swept up into something he can never hope to understand (Your complaints about this episode aside, you can’t have a meaningful story about Anakin Skywalker’s fall and redemption without the chapter on this naive young boy). We flash forward 32 years for Episode IV to see that things aren’t so well for the galaxy, and that we have a new hero in Luke Skywalker, who is apparently Anakin’s son. We continue the story in Episode V where we learn that Darth Vader is indeed Anakin, and we’re just as devastated as Luke. We flash back 25 years for Episodes II and III where we learn exactly how that naive young boy fell so far and became the terrifying Darth Vader. Finally, we return to the “present” timeline in Episode VI, to finish the saga and witness Anakin’s redemption.

The order restores the impact of the “I am your father” reveal, forms a much more solid narrative around Anakin Skywalker by introducing both distinct phases of his life in the first two films, and also takes advantage of the larger than usual time spans between Episodes I and II and Episodes V and VI to support the flash forward/back structure.

Above all, Star Wars is a great saga that you deserve to enjoy however you want to. I personally prefer this new order, but you don’t have to take my word for it.

Edit: Here’s a revised order including the new films: I, Rogue One, IV, V, II, III, VI, VII, and VIII. Solo doesn’t really have a perfect spot, I recommend watching it any time after IV.

Categories
Nostalgia

Star Wars: Attack of the Pacing

swatotpAfter all these years, I’m finally aware of what bothers me so much about Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. It’s the pacing. To put it simply, a completely different film slaps you across the face about half-way through, even more so than any of the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit films.

Attack of the Clones follows two sets of characters on their own plots until they somehow get together for the very end. In the beginning, Anakin and Padmé are on a journey to find love from Coruscant to Naboo, while Obi-Wan is tracking a bounty hunter and slowly unraveling a conspiracy from Coruscant to Kamino (and confronting villain #1). Suddenly, an hour in at almost the same moment, Anakin and Padmé are on a quest to find Anakin’s mother on Tatooine while Obi-wan is on a quest to get to the bottom of a droid army on Geonosis (and confronting villain #2).

Do you see what happened there? We’re still following the same characters, but both their purposes and their settings pivoted simultaneously. It just robs the whole film of its flow. A wonderful reason for maintaining two parallel plots is that you can keep one flowing to bridge the gap while the other pivots. You should never pivot both plots at the same time. Yes, in a film where the chemistry between Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman sparkles like the murky swamps of Dagobah, this is what bothers me the most, the fact that the film comes to a screeching halt and pivots in the span of one transition.

Every time I watch this film, I stop about an hour in and continue the next day. I could certainly watch another hour, but I can never seem to find the energy to invest in a set of new plots without some sort of break. Future filmmakers take note, Attack of the Clones would have been one of the better prequels if it had just maintained its flow. Always stagger the pivoting of your parallel plots to hold the audience’s attention.

Categories
Nostalgia Video

Star Wars Anime

Have you ever wanted to see a Star Wars anime? We’ll probably never see an official one now that Disney owns the franchise, but this short film fills the void quite well, and all I want now is more. For more info, see the coverage at The Verge and the short film’s companion PDF.