Storied Jedi-Bendu General Luke Skywalker and his motley crew finally arrive at the Gordon spaceport in hopes of escaping Imperial controlled Aquilae. There, they must outsmart Knight of the Sith Prince Valorum if they are to get Princess Leia and her two brothers to safety.
What a mess.
The Star Wars #5 is a nonsensical, by the numbers, uninspired mess of an issue that seems set on making the worst qualities of the prequel trilogy seem like the quintessence of good storytelling.
Characters falling in love without any real connection being forged between them? Check.
Flat, clichéd interactions between characters you're supposed to care about? Check.
Unnecessary elements seemingly forced into the story for fan service? Check.
The prequels had a point to them, a purpose, one that elevated the material (which is much better than it generally gets credit for) and caused it to become much more than the sum of its parts. Without such a reason for existing (aside from being the rough draft to Star Wars), The Star Wars can't afford to coast on the strength of its premise.
But that's what it's primarily been doing since the second issue, and this issue is no different. Absolutely nothing remarkable or interesting happens. Good guys walk into a trap, good guys escape, two good guys fall in love, bad guys come after the good guys, cliffhanger, the end.
I want to like this series, I really do. But it's impossible when this is the quality of storytelling we get. It didn't have to be this way.
Thank the Force for the art, starting with an epic cover by Nick Runge. It's a thing of beauty, juxtaposing elements of the Star Wars saga we've come to know (Drew Struzan's Attack of the Clones movie poster) with the saga unfolding in this series (a seriously badass General Luke Skywalker in a lightsaber fight with Imperial Stormtroopers). It perfectly captures what this series SHOULD be; a fantastic fusion of old and new to become something rewarding.
Mike Mayhew takes the ball from there and doesn't put it down until you've closed the issue. In each panel, Mayhew combines the look and feel of Star Wars with a Flash Gordon vibe in a dynamically cinematic way. It's a testament to his talent that even in the most cringe worthy moments of the story, you enjoy seeing it all unfold.
As a work of sequential art, The Star Wars has been a rousing success. Mike Mayhew has brilliantly created a (stylistically) energetic and immersive new galaxy from the DNA of the old one. I've never been let down by the visual presentation of this series.
Unfortunately, the story has struggled to establish itself as anything other than a rough draft of a superior work. While it may seem obvious that this would be the case (after all, it IS based on the rough draft of a superior work), I believe it represents a massive missed opportunity to create something truly unique, worthwhile, and transcendent.
My disappointment with this series is nothing readers of my reviews haven't heard before. I've struggled to find anything redeeming about the story as presented and have made my criticisms known since its debut last year. But through it all, I've held out hope; hope that we'd move past the clumsy dialogue, hope that the compelling ideas and interesting twists on characters and locations would be matched with a story of significance, hope that this project I'd been ridiculously excited for since it was announced (I was in the room at WonderCon when Dark Horse Editor Randy Stradley first broke the news and actually, literally gasped with anticipation) would embrace its potential and deliver a work deserving of the name Star Wars.
From a story perspective, The Star Wars has been a colossal failure.
If you're the kind of comic book reader who takes the time to appreciate each issue's art panel by panel, then by all means buy this issue and marvel at the amazing work of Mike Mayhew. But if you buy comics for an enjoyable fusion of art and prose in service of an engaging (and coherent) story…
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