Review roundup: Brian Wood’s Star Wars #1

SW-1-excerptIt’s been only a little more than a week since the first issue of Brian Wood’s Star Wars series came and flew off the shelves. With the second printing of issue #1 expected in stores on February 6, and issue #2 (introducing Boba Fett) coming out on February 13, let’s see what people are thinking about the start of the series promoted as “This is Star Wars as you remember it . . . and as you have never seen it before” – are they fussing or are they loving it?

Really, it seems to boil down to whether you like Wood’s style or not.

I think everyone is pleased (or is not displeased) with the art of Carlos D’Anda. As one of the reviews points out, Brian Wood is an unusual pairing for a blockbuster title like Star Wars. While I know of his work, I’ve never really explored it, and in Star Wars, he definitely brings more introspection to the characters as opposed to action to push the plot at breakneck speeds. I can’t think of any other Star Wars titles that spend the first chunk of the story with a more somber “What’s on your mind?” “Oh, pretty much everyone I know just died and I don’t know what I’m doing.” “Same here.” That sets a tone: this is not just about lightsabers and blasters – it’s about getting into their heads.

Star Wars #1 (Dark Horse)It has been a long time since we’ve had a comic that even has focused on the main Original Trilogy heroes – maybe nothing since Empire? We’ve had some cameos in Agent of the Empire and their older versions in Crimson Empire III and Invasion, and by then, they are very different people. So getting into their heads is good for a character-driven story, but is it Star Wars? Let’s see what comic book reviewers have to say:

  • Comics Alliance says: “It just might be the most Star Wars-y comic I’ve ever read.” but needs better sound effects (for Chewie, Artoo, and Threepio).
  • SF Signal gives it 2.5/5 and has an issue with it being “stylistically out of place among the Dark Horse books, where stories are chock-a-block with trademark intrigue, pursuits, escapes, and revelations. Wood, inversely, goes to great lengths to show us protagonists who are physically and emotionally exhausted from the events of the movie.”
  • Bleeding Cool points out what Leia does when no one is watching, and says “this first issue manages to combine the best elements of the franchise with some of Wood’s strongest talents as a writer.”
  • Robot6 at Comic Book Resources points out how having someone like Wood is unusual for Star Wars and he “offers a new take on a 35-year-old franchise, with a distinct tone that makes it seem of our time as much as something from our collective childhood.”
  • ScienceFiction.com gives it 3.5/5 and says “Brian Wood has done a good job in making the reader forget about the rest of the Trilogy momentarily so that we can take in his new tale.”
  • Doug Zawiswa goes 4/5 at Comic Book Resources and points out: “With plenty of panel time for Leia, and a fair amount of reflection and adaptation for Luke, Wood sets these characters, who readers all know and love, up for episodic growth.”
  • Futile Position: “[Wood's] vision of Star Wars is a more grounded one. The characters have real concerns about things they should be concerned about, there is resentment in their ranks and there are still doubts that they can accomplish what they have set out to do. It’s the original Star Wars, only brought one step closer to reality.”
  • Cosmic Book News says: “It was the first time I’ve read something new from the franchise and actually felt like a kid again, watching Star Wars on VHS over and over.”

While most of the sites above are comics and general sci-fi sites, what about the Star Wars reviewers?

  • Paul at EUCantina gives it high marks: 4.5/5, with ” classic Star Wars action, fun and heart”
  • Brian at Tosche Station goes 3/5, calling it a little “exposition heavy” and has reservations about Leia.
  • Mark at Jedi News calls it: “A solid start for the new series”. But later cautions “too much introspection could soon wear thin.”
  • Skuldren and Synlah at RooqooDepot agree with 5/5 with: “There’s a perfect mix of all the iconic characters, a bit of action, a bit of plot setup, and some nice character focus.”
  • Bryan Young and I share what we liked (Vader’s characterization) and didn’t like in it (where’s Artoo?) over at Big Shiny Robot.

6 thoughts on “Review roundup: Brian Wood’s Star Wars #1

  1. Mark Newbold

    Good round up James, thanks for the mention. Enjoyed the comic a lot, hopeful for the direction of the title but aware there are NUMEROUS pitfalls it could fall into.
    As a SW and Dark Horse fan, this couldn’t have hit big at a better time.

  2. Dom

    As much as I didn’t like Leia’s characterization in the comic, I just want to say I was extremely excited to see Mon Mothma in the comic. She was an underused character in the EU and it’s nice to see her in this comic taking on the full mantle of leadership.

  3. Doyle

    Thanks for the review roundup, James. I’m really looking forward to reading this someday soon, even if my only local comic shop sold out immediately and (for some reason they won’t explain) refuses to order copies of the second printing.

  4. Doyle

    I could probably try hitting up the local Barnes & Noble to see if they have any copies, but I’m not sure that they have a distribution deal with Dark Horse. Sadly, the comic shop that I went into is the only one for fifty miles or more in any direction. Might just see about getting it on Amazon, though I’ve never ordered a single issue from them.

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