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.

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