Thursday, February 5, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Star Wars #2

I'm a simple man with fairly simple tastes. I enjoy cold beer, beautiful women, and lazy cops. Not every story needs to be some grand saga that reinvents the wheel, solves global warming, and inspires a cult following that later tries to sue to government to get out of paying taxes. It can be the same simple story that has been told since mankind started tripping on shrooms and telling stories about the crazy shit they saw.

It's for that very reason that Star Wars is so appealing. It doesn't try to reinvent the sci-fi genre. It just takes these themes that are as old as Ancient Egyptian ball sweat and conveys them in an awesome way. Marvel finally managed to blow enough lawyers to get the rights back to Star Wars. Now they're expanding on the movie that inspired an army of nerds and preserved the virginity of countless awkward teenagers. They're not changing the ending. They're not creating shitty new characters like Jar Jar Binks. They're just building on the awesome foundation that George Lucas laid.

Luke, Leia, and Han have a long ways to go in Star Wars #2. The ruins of the Death Star haven't stopped burning yet, but that hasn't stopped them from trying to rub sulfuric acid in the wound. Their efforts have already made for some epic moments that would make any Jedi or Sith Lord weep. But there's still room for plenty more if they can resist the urge to use Gungans in the story.

The problem for characters like Luke is that he's still a long ways away from achieving his most epic moments. He's still on the Jedi equivalent of training wheels. So when he tries to confront Darth Vader, who decided to play the part of negotiator/enforcer in this little rebel plot, it's not a fair fight. And it shouldn't be. That's what makes it work. Luke is operating solely on a rage boner while Darth Vader gets to operate on how pissed he is at the prequels. He doesn't chop off a hand yet, but he does manage to steal Luke's light sabre and make clear that he's still more badass than Hayden Christenson can ever hope to be.

There's some dramatic foreboding with Luke still blaming Darth Vader for the death of his father. Even Vader doesn't seem to sense it at this point, although he does get a clue when he recognizes the light sabre. Again, it's too early to start pick at that old wound. So for the sake of preserving the best moments of The Empire Strikes Back, this overly one-sided battle is interrupted by Han and Leia. They don't have a light sabre, but they do have a motherfucking Imperial Walker. I say motherfucking because it's as awesome as it sounds.

Now I know light sabres are supposed to be a gentleman's weapon in the Star Wars universe. But if I had to choose between that and a fucking Imperial Walker, I'd go with something that's capable of crushing cars that cut me off on the highway. It's just as capable as tipping the balance in Han, Luke, and Leia's favor. Darth Vader may have an army of Storm Troopers and a couple of light sabres, but a hijacked Imperial Walker helps make for a more even fight.

What follows is an imperial clusterfuck in the best possible way. Not only has this deal they were attempting to negotiate completely gone to shit, but now they're facing a renegade imperial walker and an army of prisoners that Luke helped free. It's not a good day to work for the Empire. But it's still a way more balanced fight this way. Han, who now has another reason for every man in the universe to envy him, is driving the walker in hopes of turning Darth Vader into a burnt stain on his boot. This allows Luke to slip away and join the escaped prisoners to help ruin the Empire's day.

However, Vader is still as calm as Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. He still commands the Stormtroopers to fight back. Plus, he's got a two light sabres now and these prisoners don't have shit. So maybe it's not as balanced a fight as it appears. That doesn't make it any less awesome.

Even with a big ass, Stormtrooper stomping piece of hardware on their side, the balance is still not to Han and Leia's liking. They can't even shoot the big ass guns on the nose that would really help fuck up the Empire's day. This leads to some heated arguing/sexual tension. They're still in that phase of their relationship. They haven't gone from wanting to hate fuck to just wanting to fuck. Like Luke being grossly overmatched against Darth Vader, it nicely depicts the state of their personality in the current context of the saga. It doesn't really add anything that we didn't already see in Star Wars: A New Hope, but it does show that Han has a long ways to go in his journey to stake his claim in the Princess' panties.

That said, not every part of this story deals with the natural progression of these characters in relation to the overall mythos. Some details are consistent from the epic triumphs of the Empire Strikes Back to the nauseating disappointments of the prequels. One of those details involves C-3PO being a total pussy. Sure, he's still lovable, but he's also a total pussy. He was tasked with keeping the Millennium Falcon ready for take-off at a moment's notice. He couldn't even get that shit right when a team of scavengers starts dismantling the ship. He has a blaster, but he ends up dropping it before he even fires a shot. Yes, he's even worse than Greedo. So he surrenders. Again, he's still lovable, but he's the last being in the universe that anyone should trust as a backup plant.

Luke Skywalker, despite being a long ways from Jedi knighthood, still shows that he can contribute in the absence of a light sabre. As Darth Vader leads the charge against the freed prisoners, he ends up having to improvise. He can't exactly rely on the Force at this point. This isn't another Death Star. But he does manage to find one of the land-speeders that will one day help him on Endor. It's not an Imperial Walker, but it's the third best thing after Boba Fett's armor.

Luke is able to use the speeder to strike back against the army of Stormtroopers. It helps alter the balance of the fight yet again in yet another awesome way. And this time, there are no lovable Disney-friendly Ewoks to distract from the moment. It's a simple yet effective way to mix up the fight and do some extra damage. It's still not bringing much new to the table, but why is that necessary in a battle that involves Darth Vader, Imperial Walkers, and land speeders? If someone can't find enjoyment out of that, then they need to lay off the Xanex.

With Luke taking care of the Stormtroopers, Han tries to go in for the finishing blow by crushing Darth Vader with the Imperial Walker. At one point, he has him under his massive boot. This sounds like one of those battles that involves a baby kitten and a hungry shark. And it is for all intents and purposes, just in the opposite direction. Han has a big fucking Imperial Walker on his side. Vader has a light sabre. That should make for a quick battle, right?

Well it does, but it's Vader who actually has the edge here. Without breaking a sweat, Darth Vader just uses the Force to cripple the Imperial Walker like a beat up old Chevy on the highway. Once again, it's as awesome and badass as it sounds. This is Darth fucking Vader here. Fucking up an Imperial Walker with only his mind is what he does on a Tuesday. It's a feat that should impress anyone, imperial and rebel alike. If only I had that kind of power at the DMV.

It's a moment that's awesome enough. The only way it could possibly be more awesome is if Leia somehow changed into a chain-mail bikini. Well we don't get that, but we do get the next best thing. R2-D2 shows that it's way more competent than C-3PO by activating the laser on the walker. This allows Han to get off a nice shot on Vader that disrupts his whole badass Force display. It doesn't kill him, but it does show that even badass Sith Lords have their limits. At this point, nobody should be surprised by the simplicity of the awesome conveyed. It just works and it helps keep the battle nicely balanced without relying on Stormtroopers.

This gives the Rebels a chance to leave with slightly bigger balls than they arrived with. The factory is destroyed, Darth Vader is down for the count, and they got to hijack an Imperial Walker. By any measure, this is a pretty good day for the Rebels. Luke even manages to recover his light sabre and make off with the land speeder. Sure, there's still the matter of C-3PO being a total pussy and letting a bunch of scavengers rip apart the Millennium Falcon. But they're on a roll now. They did what they came here to do, giving the Empire new headaches and getting in a few licks on Darth Vader. If they can get off the planet with this much going for them, then they should expect another round of metals.

However, they're not in the clear yet. Darth Vader may have had his robot nuts busted, but they're still intact. Except now he has even more reasons to be pissed. He still has plenty of Stormtroopers to throw at them. He also has a light sabre and a new rage boner for Luke Skywalker and his friends. It doesn't matter if they have an Imperial Walker. He's still Darth fucking Vader. He can still find so many ways to fuck them up and without freezing them in Carbonite. It's been a back-and-forth battle so far, but it's not over. And Vader is still intent on making Luke and his friends feel as bad and as foolish as Pete Carroll.

Simplicity is a beautiful thing. We as a civilization dedicate enough brain power to our cars, our cell phone service, and hair care products. We shouldn't have to put that much brain power into enjoying an awesome comic that follows a classic theme. And that's exactly what this book provides. Fuck the exposition. To hell with adding new twists and revelations. Just take the shit that made George Lucas a billion dollars and run with it. That's what makes this book work.

Beyond the simplicity, this book does a great job of reflecting where Han, Luke, and Leia are in their current development. Luke is a long ways away from being a Jedi knight. Han and Leia are a long way from swapping spit on Endor in a crowd of cheering Ewoks. Hell, R2-D2 has a better chance at getting into Leia's panties at this point and something about that just seems right. There's nothing here that doesn't fit perfectly into the greater Star Wars mythos. It could be argued that it doesn't bring anything that new or innovative to the table and that might be valid. However, there's no arguing that watching Darth Vader tear apart an Imperial Walker makes for a satisfying book. I give Star Wars #2 a 9 out of 10. The lessons here are clear. Keep the story simple. Stick with what's awesome. And C-3PO is still a complete pussy. It's too late to fix the prequels, but it's not too late for this be an awesome layer of frosting on the massive cake that is Star Wars. Nuff said!


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