The Star Wars, the graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics, is not part of the new expanded Disney universe. It is in fact a take on the original rough draft script of Star Wars Episode IV by George Lucas. It’s a really interesting look into Lucas’ initial vision for the first film of what became one of the greatest franchises ever created. Luckily for him (and for all of us who enjoy the original trilogy) this version of the script is not how the film ended up.
There are a lot of small differences in how the characters play out that I won’t go into, but they are pretty amusing to see as a Star Wars fan. There are also a lot of changes to the plot, and the story is actually quite different from the first film. There are some familiar bits from Episode IV like the Deathstar trench run or the infiltration of the Deathstar to rescue Princess Leia. There are also parts that show up in other films, like the Battle of Endor from Episode VI (though in this rendition the Ewoks are actually Wookies, which was way more badass and believable).
But outside of the plot and character changes, the biggest noticeable difference, for me, was the lack of any mythological elements and how small a role The Force played in the story. The hero’s journey that so defined the original trilogy is also not present in the story at all. It is a much more political tale about an empire encroaching on free territories of space. It is actually far more similar to Episode I than it is to Episode IV, which is why I say it’s lucky that Lucas went on to change the script.
I think that the hero’s journey and all the elements of the mono-myth that were part of the original Star Wars trilogy is what made it so compelling and longstanding. And I think the inability to use these same elements effectively is a major reason that the prequel trilogy was such a failure. However, it’s interesting to see that Lucas’ original concept was to tell more of a purely adventurous and political tale. I know that Joseph Campbell eventually became Lucas’ mentor, but I’m now curious when that was, and when Lucas decided to add all of the mythological elements that made his film series great.
Now, I think that The Star Wars is very much worth reading, especially for Star Wars fans because it provides some insight into how the whole series began. However, it is not objectively the best thing I’ve read. There is a lot of action jammed into the story, and there are parts of it that feel very rushed or clunky. For instance, the romance between Princess Leia and Annikin (who plays the apprentice role Luke ends up playing in the final film version) seemed to come out of nowhere and didn’t feel very organic.
There are also some instances that felt like they potentially didn’t translate well between mediums. For example, there is a point where a character sacrifices his life to save others, but reading it happen without much build up didn’t make it feel very impactful on an emotional level where perhaps that scene with dramatic music, good acting, and good delivery of the dialogue exchange might’ve worked better. Similarly, there were a lot of bits of dialogue that felt clunky to me but may have felt more epic or dramatic on screen.
I don’t know how much these instances occur due to the writers lifting pieces from the rough draft script that don’t quite work or simply the awkwardness of these scenes not playing out well across different mediums, or how many of these instances are due to incompetence or poor execution on the part of the comic book writers. Personally, I’m willing to give the writers the benefit of the doubt, and, despite some of the low quality in bits of dialogue or scene construction, I think The Star Wars is a good read, if for no other reason than its value as a piece of insight into Lucas’ creative process.