Comicscape: The Star Wars #1, Superior Spider-Man #17 (

By:Joel Rickenbach
Date: Thursday, September 05, 2013

Welcome to Comicscape! Each week we'll be taking a look at a few of the week's new books in hopes of informing your comic shop purchases, or at the very least giving you 4-color thrills and chills. Read on!

The Star Wars #1 (by J. W. Rinzler, Mike Mayhew and Rain Beredo): Now this is cool. Dark Horse Comics and some of the Lucasfilm intelligentsia have taken George Lucas’ early draft of A New Hope, and adapted it for the world of panels and word balloons. This could easily be just a fun look at what could have been, but instead, thanks to an extreme amount of care and talent, The Star Wars is an instant must read for any Star Wars fan. This is soul of the Star Wars universe we all know and love, but looked at from some alternate dimension where Luke Skywalker is a grizzled “Jedi-Bendu” general, and Annikin is his would be Padawan. 
This isn’t just a rearranging of characters and ideas, this early take on the Star Wars universe has a life all its own. We open on Kane Starkiller and his two sons, Annikin and Deak, hiding out on the fourth moon of Utapau. Kane, one of the few remaining Jedi, is teaching his sons the ways of the force, but they are interrupted by a Sith who has tracked Kane to this remote system. The Sith, replete with black robes, a red lightsaber and an Asian-style demonic mask, is an instantly striking and memorable figure- a Star Wars hallmark to be sure. The ensuing fight holds some surprises, as does the rest of this issue. It’s fascinating to see the elements George Lucas has always incorporated into his stories present in this book, and how you can connect them to the original and prequel trilogies. Including people getting cut in half, someone who is more "machine than man" and boggy political intrigue involving trade routes and rebellions, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
I don’t know how much of what’s present is the work of a young Lucas, and what has been filled in by writer J. W. Rinzler, but it is undeniably a Star Wars tale, it has that “feel” if you know what I mean (and I’m betting you do). Even outside the Star Wars wrapper this would be engaging Sci-Fi in the 70's era/future primitive sense. Artist Mike Mayhew and Colorist Rain Beredo deserve a great deal of praise. The art is gorgeous, and values a realistic and very Ralph McQuarrie inspired feel, which helps sell the fantasy of an alternate Star Wars. The character work uses real life references, and you can almost feel actors inhabiting the roles. The whole package has a living, breathing quality, and after one issue I would be ecstatic to see more stories, beyond this series, in this alternate take on our beloved universe.
I’m an unabashed Star Wars fan, it would take far more than the problematic prequels to get me out of Lucas’ sandbox, and The Star Wars #1 is a great example of why I continue to play in it- there's always something to see.

Superior Spider-Man #17 (by Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman): There are still legions of irked Spider-Man fans that refuse to buy what Dan Slott is selling, and that's a shame. Slott has not only managed to make Spider-Man engaging again, but he's made it fun again. Take the big brouhaha surrounding this issue's fanboy reveal- Spider-Man 2099 dropping in for a present day appearance. It seems the fabric of Marvel's space-time continuum really is broken thanks to Wolverine's joyrides, so Miguel O'Hara (the Spidey of 2099) hops back to present day for some answers. What makes this all work is Slott's meticulous research into the Spider-Man 2099 mythology, and how he's woven plot points and ancestors into his present day Superior Spider-Man. It keeps the "crossover" from being a gimmick, and actually makes the meeting of the "Men" matter. Hell, he even pick up the 2099 slang, such as "What the shock?" and "Jammit". 

If you haven't guessed by now, Slott is in this for the long haul, and if he keeps spinning his web of ideas (even if they can feel a bit goofy at times) with the kind of glee and nostalgia he's displayed over the past year plus, then Superior Spidey is aces in my book. I can't wait for the Spider-Ock/2099 showdown next month.

Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him onTwitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.