Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Star Wars #1

I have a confession to make. No, I’m not going to admit I have a drinking problem. I’m still quite a few hangovers away from going that far. This is a bit more important than that. So here it is. I’m a Star Wars fan. I’ll let that sink in for a moment. It’s true. I love Star Wars. Amazingly, the concept of Galactic Empires, light sabers, Jedi Knights, and Princess Leia in a chain bikini appeals to a guy like me. I’ve seen every movie, including the shitty prequels. I’ve endured Jar Jar and Hayden Christanson. And I’m damn proud of it. So I’m just as proud to finally have a chance to review a Star Wars comic.

I’m usually not on board whenever some massive media conglomerate seeks to further their goals of media domination by acquiring new properties, but I made a rare exception for Disney acquiring Star Wars. And it’s not just that they couldn’t possibly make a worse movie than The Phantom Menace. It meant that Star Wars would now be under the same umbrella as Marvel Comics. That meant the fine folks at Marvel that keep finding new ways to make killer robots and evil space titans awesome now has the ability to impart that awesome into Star Wars. That’s not to say Dark Horse didn’t do their share of awesome when they had the license, but Marvel now has the keys to the hearts of millions of galactic level nerds. I pray that the Force won’t let them fuck it up. Star Wars #1 is the first in a new era of Star Wars comics under Marvel’s wings. And if they can make a space epic involving a raccoon and a talking tree awesome, then they sure as hell should be able to make Star Wars awesome.

The first step in this process is to set the story up in a way that will ensure Storm Troopers start getting shot as soon as possible. This story does just that by introducing Cymoon, a part of the Corellian Industrial Cluster. It is basically the Empire’s version of Detroit before it went to hell, minus the rap stars and the shitty football team. It’s full of Star Destroyers and Tie Fighters so that means there are many targets worth shooting here. And someone is stupid and/or brave enough to willingly visit here knowing Darth Vader is still probably pissed off about losing the Death Star.

Just who could that someone be? How about Han fucking Solo. He’s already on Darth Vader’s shit list and the shit list of pretty much everyone who does business with Jabba the Hut. So in that sense I wouldn’t call him stupid. I would just say he’s a billion or so parsecs beyond giving a fuck.

He arrives aboard a transport ship, accompanied by two oddly masked individuals, to greet a typical Empire douche-bag named Overseer Aggadeen. He’s supposedly there on behalf of Jabba, even though one of the Empire’s goons note that he’s got a bounty on his head. For some reason, Overseer Aggadeen isn’t too worried about that. He’s either got the ego of Donald Trump, minus the shitty hair, or he knows how these negotiations are going to pan out. But his ego can’t be that huge because he demands that Han and his masked escorts turn their blasters over, which they do willingly.

At this point, it’s revealed that these aren’t the sort of negotiations that involve trade federations and gungans. Han also seems to know how these negotiations will pan out because he’s already got Chewbacca keeping an eye on them from afar with a rifle, just in case they disagree on who should be shot first. It’s abundantly clear that this shit isn’t going to involve senate hearings or political intrigue. Somebody is going to get shot by the end of this so those who hated the prequels can breathe a sigh of relief.

Han and Overseer Aggadeen at least try to keep things civil at first. The enter a factory where rows upon rows of droids toil away making Empire weapons. It’s basically one of those places that’s just begging to get blown up. And Overseer Aggadeen just keeps giving more reasons when he proves to be about as reasonable as John Boehner in negotiations. His terms are simple. A negotiator will arrive shortly, give Han the terms, and he will accept them on behalf of Jabba without question, regardless of how much it pisses Jabba off. Han might as well be negotiating with the IRS. But unlike the IRS, the Empire can’t be fought with lawyers and bribes.

This is where negotiations end and the shooting begins to the surprise of nobody in the galaxy. There will be no Han or Greedo moments here. It’s actually R2-D2 who fires the first shot in the form of lighter fluid that takes out a couple of Storm Troopers. Han and his escorts take care of the rest. It’s an effective first attack, but Overseer Aggadeen looks about as shocked anybody who just got the news that Charlie Sheen had been arrested again.

There’s also the issue of those masked escorts of his. They’re not actually hired thugs from Jabba. He’s too cheap to give anyone protection in a business deal. It’s actually Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Again, this should surprise anyone about as much as the ending to the last three Sylvester Stallone movies. It’s enough of an “Oh fuck!” moment to make Overseer Aggadeen point them in the direction of the core. So instead of getting shot, he just gets decked by Princess Leia. There are worse ways to lose a battle I suppose. There’s no shame in getting decked by a woman who looks hot in a metal bikini.

Now that they don’t have to carry on any of this negotiation bullshit, the crew makes their way through the factory towards the core, thanks to the generous contributions of the overseer. They coordinate with C-3PO, who stayed behind in the Millennium Falcon since he’s way too much of a pussy, even for negotiations. He’s supposed to keep the ship hidden in a junk yard and on standby until they’re ready to make their epic escape. It worked for the Death Star. Why can’t it work for a simple factory? They’re able to find the core easily and hope they can just get ready for the fireworks. That still depends on the Empire being lazy and inept.

While certain empires throughout history have shown a tendency to be lazy and inept, the Galactic Empire isn’t one of them. Han and Leia go to work on setting the core to blow, but Luke’s Jedi senses pick up on an unexpected complication. Even though the Empire has a legion of droids at their disposal, they also have slaves. They just don’t get the same satisfaction shooting a droid as they do shooting a slave. Go figure.

Luke finds them and encounters a lone guard who looks like an out-of-shape version of Jonah Hill. It gives Luke an opportunity to use his light saber to cut the guard’s hand off and free the slaves. He doesn’t stick around to torment the guard Django Unchained style. He understands the value of disgruntled slaves to the Rebel cause. It’s a very Jedi thing to do and it gives the Rebels some much needed manpower. It’s one thing to fight an Empire to blow up planets, but it helps to show that it’s still capable of old fashioned douche-baggery like keeping slaves and abusing them.

It promises to make for a much more crowded ship, but Han and Leia just finished wiring the core to blow so they don’t have time to discuss who will bunk with who and who gets priority over the bathroom on the ship. There’s even a nice moment between Han and Leia where Leia points out he’s not nearly the douche-bag he was when she first met him. She’s still not at the point where she’s taking the lock off her panties, but it’s a promising sign.

There’s just one major complication in their way now. Remember how the Overseer wasn’t all that worried about Han’s reputation and didn’t look all that surprised when he turned against them? Well, that’s probably because he knew he had backup coming. And aside from maybe an army of Terminators and ninjas, Darth Vader is as good as it gets. It turns out he was the negotiator that Overseer Aggadeen was talking about. But Darth Vader is a negotiator in the same way Ted Nugant is an animal rights activist. Nobody ever intended to do any negotiating here. Trade federations need not apply.

As soon as Han, Luke, and Leia get word that big bad Vader is on the scene, they know the shit is in the process of hitting the fan. Leia jumps at the chance to order Chewbacca to take him out. He tries to shoot him, but he might as well be throwing stuffed kittens at him. This is fucking Darth Vader. Nobody’s going to take him out in a way that Oliver Stone can make a shitty conspiracy movie out of. He’s got a light saber and he knows how to use it. He also has the force and plenty of expendable Storm Troopers that aren’t good for much else aside from human shields. I’m sure Vader would be yawning if he weren’t wearing his badass mask.

Chewy still attempts to take him out, but Darth Vader isn’t in the mood for dodge ball. He uses the Force to send Chewy on the run, throwing even more shit into the fan in the process. Vader then learns that the reactor has been overloaded and this place is about to get the Death Star treatment. He orders his troops accordingly, but he also senses that Luke is present. Since this is before the big reveal in Empire Strikes Back, he just sees him as the little shit who destroyed his Death Star. Even if he does know the truth, he’s ready to give his son a good spanking.

Now Han, Luke, and Leia are in an Imperial shit storm, complete with Darth Vader and the promise of a big fucking explosion. Some Star Wars fans may need to slow down at this point so that their throbbing erection can settle down. But the pace of the action does not let up, nor do additional complications to this growing clusterfuck of a mission. C-3PO, everybody’s favorite robot coward, has to get the Millennium Falcon going, but some creatures have decided to attack the ship that they think is just another piece of junk and not some ship that made the Kessel run in under 12 parsecs. That means even C-3PO has to get in on the action, meaning they’re way more screwed than they thought.

While C-3PO has to channel his inner Han Solo, the rest of the crew has to fight off Storm Troopers and protect slaves in a factory that’s about to go boom. In other words, this is just another day at the office for them. Leia is not happy with these tactics and lets Han know there’s another lock on her panties at this point, but he’s not overly discouraged. He’s got two more sequels to pick those locks. And luckily for them, they find a few AT-ATs to help clear the way. It’s like James Bond finding a tank. It’s still a shit storm, but at least they’ll get to throw their own shit into the mix.

The only remaining complication is Luke. In the same way Darth Vader sensed him, Luke sensed Darth Vader as well. He’s still young and doesn’t know the truth. He just knows this guy as the shit that murdered his father and Obi Wan Kanobi. That’s all the incentive he needs to pick a fight with him. Sure, he’s overmatched. Sure, he’s not even close to being ready and would lose way more than a hand if he tried. But that’s exactly what makes the moment so fucking satisfying. For those who still have a throbbing erection, now might be a good time to take a cold shower or call a doctor.

This book feels like the kind of Star Wars comic that fans like me have been waiting for since the Regan administration. It’s a perfectly crafted, perfectly paced continuation of Episode 4. It’s like as soon as Han, Luke, and Chewy got their metals for destroying the Death Star, they turned around and said, “That was fun. Now let’s get back to kicking some Empire ass!” It warms my heart in ways that usually takes an inordinate amount of blow or Jack Daniels to match. It couldn’t have been more awesome without Princess Leia being in a chain mail bikini.

A big part of what makes the Star Wars movies so successful is its ability to use classic themes and present them in a way that involves aliens, Storm Troopers, and lovable robots. This comic doesn’t attempt to change that formula. It doesn’t attempt to do more than the movies and why not? That’s like asking Pamela Anderson to get another boob job. It would be redundant at this point. The only real drawback here is that those not familiar with Star Wars may be a bit lost, but that crowd has no excuses. Star Wars has been around since disco and qualudes were still popular. Anyone who enjoyed those movies will find something to enjoy about this comic. The Force is undoubtably strong Star Wars #1. Marvel did everything it could to not fuck it up and, much to the delight of their Disney overlords, they succeeded. I give this book a 9 out of 10 and my highest recommendation. There’s no need for the Jedi mind trick. This comic is awesome enough on its own. Only douche-bags and ardent Star Trek fans will find something to complain about here. Nuff said!

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