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Episode I: The Phantom Menace TPB

[Also available in Limited Edition Hardcover.]

Story: George Lucas
Script: Henry Gilroy
Pencilling: Rodolfo Damaggio
Inking: A Williamson
Coloring: Dave Nestelle
Color Separator: Harold McKinnon
Lettering: Steve Dutro
Cover: Ravenwood
Released: 05/05/1999

Reviewed by: JF Boivin (11/04/2009)

SUMMARY:

(From the back cover) The newest chapter in the STAR WARS saga comes to your bookshelf! Adapted from George Lucas' original screenplay STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE unlocks the history and events that laid the foundation for the Rebel Alliance's epic struggle against the Empire as chronicled in the original STAR WARS film trilogy.

Featuring familiar characters as never before seen and introducing new players designed to become STAR WARS icons, EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE is a must-see film experience, and this graphic novel adaptation is a must-read for all STAR WARS enthusiasts.


THE STORY

This is a review of the TPB, which came out at the same time as the first issue of the serialized version. When I first saw the movie at the theater, I wasn't a big fan of the story. But over time as I re-watched the movie and re-read the novelization, I got to appreciate it more. I learned that behind the bad acting by Jake Lloyd and the annoying Jar Jar, there lies a deep story of discovery. This was our first glimpse into the inner workings of the Republic, the Jedi Order, and the origin of beloved characters like Palpatine, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Luke's mom. This adaptation captures all the movie moments perfectly, the big action sequences shortened and the emphasis on the story and dialogue. Aside from the occasional minor mistake (Anakin referring to Gardulla the Hutt as a "he", or Qui-Gon promising something to Watto before Tatooine's "sun sets"), probably due to the unfamiliarity of this new script, this is a perfect adaptation whether it is read before or after watching the movie.

BTW, StarWars.com offered a flash animated version of the first part of the adaptation as The Phantom Menace Online Comic.


THE ART

With all aspects of this movie so familiar by now, the success of an adaptation hinges on the quality of the artwork. And it does deliver in all respects. The detailed work of Damaggio shows a lot of amazing angles which are not your typical "trace over a movie still" panels. A lot of the story is also shown through the characters' actions and expressions leaving little need for narrative balloons. On top of that, legendary artist Al Williamson (known for his work on the Star Wars newspaper strips and the amazing adaptations of ESB and RotJ from the 80's) brings his own style and quality by inking the whole thing. The collected edition has an original cover painting by Ravenwood, as well as a gallery of Hugh Fleming's amazing covers that he did for the four-issue version. The four less important photo versions of the covers are printed in small on the back cover as well. Over all, this is a visual delight well worth peering at each of the numerous panels.


CONCLUSIONS

A perfect adaptation and must-have for any Star Wars fan.

Rating: 10 / 10 Highly Recommended

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