Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel #39-44: The Empire Strikes Back Adaptation

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I feel like I am doing my readers a disservice with this review. I mean, I just reviewed the novel last week and this week I am reviewing the same story. The only difference being is the storytelling format. When I reviewed the A New Hope book and comic adaptations at least I had Splinter of the Mind’s Eye between them instead of practically repeating myself two weeks in a row. Oh, well, the best I can do to justify this review is to point out that in this adaptation there are some noticeable differences between itself and the film and novelisation that pose some merits to reviewing it.

The story is the same of course and as Star Wars fans we do not need a summary of the plot of The Empire Strikes Back so I won’t insult the intelligence of the reader by going over it.

One thing that can be said is that the artwork in this adaptation is excellent. The artists are Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon. Al Williamson is noted for also contributing to many of the Star Wars comic strips that were popular in the late 70’s and early 80’s which will be reviewed at a later date, but for now we get a taste of his talents in these issues. It’s beautiful stuff and the characters and vehicles are true to their film counterparts. The art is not too cartoon-y or unrealistic. It’s some of the finest stuff to be found in the Classic Marvel run.

The differences between itself and the film are not as extreme as they are in the novelisation, but some are still noteworthy. Some of the scenes I complained about having their dialogue altered in my last review are now missing completely! There is no death of Captain Needa and no scene where C3PO comments on the stability of the asteroid the Millennium Falcon landed in. I am not sure how I feel about this since I understand the comics need for brevity and those scenes are, of course, not crucial. But I felt that the alterations were better than just nothing! And yet, the same poor dialogue between Han and Leia in the carbon freezing chamber is sadly the same as it is in the book. However, in the comic adaptation’s defence I can say that I am pleased to see Yoda is his usually green self rather than the blue abomination we got in the novel.
Another bit of dialogue alteration in the comics that I found amusing is between Darth Vader and Luke on Cloud City. Everyone with a better-fan-than-thou complex loves pointing out how often the famous “No, I am your father” line is misquoted. It is not uncommon for many fans to erroneously quote it as “Luke, I am your father” and while that is a seemingly minor point many correctionists and quote-Nazis have had a field day with it. However, in the comic adaptation we get the perfect compromise. Here Darth Vader says “No, Luke, I am your father.” This gets a chuckle out of me every time I read it. Now that everyone is right can we move on now? Either that or we can take solace in telling people that “Beam me up, Scotty” is never said in the Star Trek Original Series. There will also be some nitpicking to do in any part of the fictional universes we love and share.

Otherwise there is not much to say. We have all seen the movie. And if you haven’t I seriously question your presence on this blog. Really, the only thing this comic adaptation contributes to the Expanded Universe is allowing the comics to seamlessly integrate the story into their expansion of the saga without having to indicate where the film takes place between one issue and the next. I suppose the same could be said for the book as well. The Expanded Universe novels include the films within their canon obviously so why not have a book version to keep the timeline of novels consistent? It’s theoretically possible I suppose to simply skip the films and just read through the EU novels or comics thanks to these adaptations making that possible. I’m not sure why anyone would do that, but it certainly makes it easier instead of switching to the films and then back to the books or comics if you just wanted to read through the Star Wars EU mythos. Either way, for us fans these are not essential reading to comprehend the EU. They serve as nice curiosities when the differences come into play, but there is little else to it.

Check next week for my review of the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Atari game and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews: The Empire Strikes Back Novelization

5

Like the A New Hope novelisation this book offers just enough differences to make it an interesting curiosity, but not a necessity for EU readers who already know the film. In fact this book has less differences than the A New Hope novelisation did. For the most part Donald F. Glut’s adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back is virtually identical to the film aside from very minor differences.

Since the story of The Empire Strikes Back is known to all reading this review (or at least it should be) I feel that I have very little to review story-wise that would be beneficial. As I had pointed it is for the most part identical to the film. So in this review what I am simply going to do is point out and discuss some of the notable differences featured in the book in an organised, numbered fashion and let reader know my thoughts on them.

  1. The dialogue.Like in Alan Dean Foster’s adaptation the dialogue is the main difference. However, in this case most of the dialogue is only slightly different and is in no way as jarring as it is in A New Hope.
    That being said, I have had some sad disappointments with the differences here and there. Many classic lines that I loved in the movie are missing here or altered significantly. My favourite Darth Vader quote, “Apology accepted, Captain Needa” is completely absent and replaced with a scene where it is implied that Vader had the unlucky officer executed rather than killing him himself. Also Han Solo’s snappy and hilarious, “Chewie, take the professor and plug him into the hyperdrive!” is also missing. He doesn’t say it. I felt cheated.
    And worst of all in the carbon freezing chamber the famous “I love you; I know” dialogue is gone! Instead we get this pathetic rubbish:

    Leia: I love you. I couldn’t tell you before, but it’s true.
    Han: Just remember that, because I’ll be back.

    Effing terrible!

  2. Yoda is Blue!That’s right. Our beloved little Jedi master is blue not green. Blue is not worse than green per se, but we are so used to the iconic green skin that it is impossible to picture him in any other colour.

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    It’s just not doing it for me, I’m sorry.
  3. Enhanced Jedi TrainingUnder Yoda’s tutelage in the book Luke fights remote controlled orbs with his lightsaber. Lifting rocks is one thing, but this is totally different. I don’t know why this scene is not in the film, but I suppose it is for the best since the training did him little good anyway when you consider the objects Darth Vader hurled at him on Cloud City and Luke’s attempts at blocking them. I guess Luke never did comprehend Han Solo’s wisdom in pointing out that good against remotes is one thing while good against the living is something else. Maybe Han Solo should have trained Luke. He has been handier with a lightsaber than Luke has been so far.

 

There are other differences of course. But these are the ones that stood out the most. As a final statement I found this book to be an interesting and easy read, but as far as delving into the EU goes all you really need is the film. There are no exclusive references in here to my knowledge that make it necessary to read it to understand the rest of the EU books and comics. It’s an interesting curiosity, but nothing vital.

Check in next time for my review of Classic Marvel #39-44: The Empire Strikes Back comic adaptation.

Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel #38 Riders in the Void

5

Despite the fact that the last issue set up The Empire Strikes Back and even promised it would be the next issue this story was published instead. This was all thanks to a production delay at Marvel which left some fans disappointed that another month had to be waited for the Empire Strikes Back adaptation. While not a bad issue in and of itself it is made up entirely of science fiction elements and cliches that have been used multiple times throughout sci-fi history making it a rather forgettable and unimportant contribution to the Star Wars lore.

Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia are flying medical supplies for the Rebel Alliance that they purchased from smugglers. Unfortunately the Empire was tipped off by the greedy scoundrels and our two heroes soon find themselves being attacked by an Imperial Star Destroyer. Luke jumps their ship into hyperspace, but not before taking heavy damage from their Imperial attackers. The hyperdive malfunctions and their ship gets plunged millions of light years into another galaxy in a sector known as the Void. It’s called the Void because of the absence of stars making the area a sheer black space with no light. They are given very little time to bemoan their predicament before a massive and very strange space-ship made of organic bio-mechanical material approaches them and sucks them inside itself.
Inside the ship they see that all the machinery is made up of organic matter almost as if the ship was a living thing. A droid suddenly appears and attacks Luke with a lightsaber. The droid is under the delusion that Luke is not a living person but non-sentient swordfighting opponent in a game it is playing. Luke destroys the droid and the computer which controls the bio-ship realises that Luke must be real since none of the fighting partners were ever programmed to lose. The bio-ship immediately sounds the intruder alert and a hole rips open on the wall which begins sucking Luke and Leia out into space. Luke grabs Leia’s hand attempting to rescue her and the tear closes instantaneously saving their lives. Apparently, the mind controlling the bio-ship has not seen compassion and love in many years and decided not to kill the two humans for showing it. The ship reveals itself to be a former soldier in a war thousands of years ago from another galaxy whose people nearly wiped each other out. He fled the war-torn galaxy he came from and he eventually merged his mind and body with that of his ship creating an organic bio-mechanical vessel coexisting symbiotically. In layman’s terms he became one with his ship.
The bio-ship returns the two rebels home to their galaxy where they run into the same Star Destroyer that tried to destroy them earlier. The Imperials begin to attack the bio-ship for really no reason at all which does not pan out in their favour at all. The bio-ship launches anti-matter missiles which obliterate the Star Destroyer on contact.
Luke and Leia are returned to their ship and the organic vessel that saved their lives returns to the void where there is no war which is where it prefers to be.

Riders in the Void, while not a bad story, came at a bad time. The last issue promised a comic adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back to come next and delays in production led to this issue being published instead. It isn’t terrible, but it is a far cry from The Empire Strikes Back and it makes too much use of classic sci-fi cliches like men being merged with their ships, ancient wars from other galaxies, alien entities that haven’t had any personal contact with anyone for years, and so on. There are a lot of sci-fi stories like this one which makes it lack any uniqueness or originality. Compound that with being a sorry excuse for a replacement of Empire Strikes Back and you have a real disappointment for fans. This little issue might have been more likeable if it came a little earlier or a little later than it did. But as it is it came at the wrong time.

Check in next time for my review of The Empire Strikes back novelization and may the Force be with you.