While I love watching Star Wars, and boy do I love watching Star Wars, I’ll take any medium I can get my hands on that showcases the galaxy I grew up watching. TV shows, video games, novels and yes, comic books. Modern audiences may not know, but when the original trilogy was hitting cinemas, Marvel was releasing an adaptation into comic form on store shelves. In fact, this run may have single handily kept Marvel in business while sales were low. Fortunately for today’s Star Wars and comic book fans alike, that original run that encapsulated the OT so well has been released in a convenient paperback compilation.
Apparently I can recite the original trilogy word for word. I now know this because the very subtle differences between the comic adaptation and the film versions are so glaring to someone who has seen the movies as many times as I have. While the adventure and wording don’t stray far what we’d expect, those discrepancies are a part of what makes reading this so fun. This rings especially true for the first of the three, because A New Hope was mostly based on early drafts of the screenplay, resulting in some fun oddities making the page that weren’t part of the movie. One such example is Leia’s father being known as “Bail Antilles” and Jabba the Hutt depicted as a blue humanoid with…mutton chops? However, as the series goes on these changes are tightened up and become fewer and further between. It’s an interesting insight into what George Lucas originally had planned for the films and gives The Special Edition changes a bit more credence. My favorite is that Chewie was always meant to get a medal of his own off screen and that Han clearly shoots first.
While solid from the get-go, the artwork is something that continues to advance over the course of the full original trilogy. The details improve, the illustrations become more definitively “Star Wars” and the character depictions go from a general likeness to spot on. I don’t fault the early issues for being so wildly different — this was the ’70s, after all, and they had very little source material to work with. Once you hit Empire Strikes Back and you see Han and Leia it’s a world of difference. I have a hard time reading most Silver Era comics, but for some reason that style worked really well for Star Wars.
The only thing that makes me cringe is a series of added moments where Luke and Leia kiss. You know those early script moments that were removed that I mentioned? Yeah, these are those and are left in. Knowing what we know now makes that relationship even more uncomfortable and frankly a little too close.
Looking past that, Star Wars: The Original Trilogy is a fantastic adaptation into a comic book series and does a great job of pulling you into the story in a unique way. As I read through I felt like I was experiencing this for the first time despite knowing anything and everything that was going to take place. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be a little kid and reading this issue by issue as the movies were freshly released in the theater. I could see this being a great way to get a young Star Wars fan further into reading and comic books but would also sit fantastically on any fans’ shelf.