Thursday, March 13, 2014

Star Wars: Legacy, Book 1


Around the time that Yoda first mentioned "Midichlorians", and culminating with the wooden performance of Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, I began to lose interest in STAR WARS. When George Lucas had Darth Vader cry "NOOOOOOOO! like some little bitch, I walked away in disgust, never looking back. My decades-long love of all things (OK, a lot of things...maybe not ALL.) STAR WARS was over.

 Then my son Mikey came along. He's going to be five in a few weeks, and he adores STAR WARS. I've passed along my few remaining toys to him, we watch the movies together, and we've had to do the ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios more times than I care to admit. Seeing the STAR WARS worlds and characters through Mikey's eyes has (Somewhat...) softened my distaste towards the franchise. I'm actually excited about the prospect of taking my son to see a new live-action STAR WARS film in 2015. So, in the vein of giving a seriously flawed franchise a second chance, I decided to pick up Dark Horse's chunky STAR WARS: LEGACY, BOOK 1 hardcover and give John Ostrander & Jan Duursema's expanded universe epic one more shot to win me over.

 I'm a huge fan of John Ostrander's, going all the way back to his 1980's work for First Comics. His SUICIDE SQUAD run is legendary. So legendary that the comic can still coast by on the fumes of Ostrander's nearly three-decade-old run. (Which I wish DC would get off their asses and collect in full, already!!!) I picked up the first few issues of STAR WARS: LEGACY when it was first released, and I found it too dense to get through, so I quickly dropped it.

 Having a huge chunk of it in front of me helped to overcome that brain-fry that I initially felt. It's still a complex book with a huge learning curve, but sticking with it was definitely worthwhile.

 STAR WARS: LEGACY is the story of Cade Skywalker,  last descendant of Luke Skywalker. Cade is not the most reader-friendly lead character that Ostrander could have chosen for this book....A drug-addicted pirate, bounty hunter, and all-around unrepentant scumbag, Cade does his best to drown out his memories of being a Jedi with copious consumption of "Death Sticks", which block his connection to The Force, and keep him from being nagged by the pesky Force Ghosts of Luke and Anakin Skywalker. (I hate it when that happens.)

 Cade is going on his merry way, being a scumbag, when forces (Ha ha...I didn't even mean to do that!) conspire to draw him back into the "Evil Empire/Downtrodden Jedi" game that we all know so well. (Which brings me to another reason why I stopped giving a shit about STAR WARS...For a group that's supposed to be the be-all/end-all of The Galaxy, The Jedi are really a lazy, talky, easily duped/defeated/killed bunch. They just drop like flies in those prequel films! That really lowered their stock, in my opinion. Things are no different 126 years after Darth Vader killed Emperor Palpatine....The Jedi have been hunted down and killed, sent into exile, yadda yadda yadda...)

 There's a lot of espionage and intrigue here, which Ostrander handles fairly deftly, but all of it reminds me of the endless talk of Trade Federations and embargoes and shipping route blockades, and Zzzzzz....uh! What?? Sorry...I dozed off for a minute. There's The broken and scattered Jedi Order, the remnants of The Galactic Alliance, the "Bad Empire" (Led by Darth Krayt, a truly fearsome Sith Lord...The book really comes to life when Krayt is on-screen.), a "Kinda Good Empire", smugglers, pirates, pilots, warrior-priests, The Yuuzhan Vong (I skipped all of the billion novels that told their story, so I was left scratching my head about a lot of their stuff in this book...)...there's a lot to take in, and it does get boring and dry at times.The book is dominated by HUUUGE blocks of text and word balloons that clutter up Jan Duursema's gorgeous art.

 I found myself getting swept up in Ostrander's story, despite my total disconnect with 90% of the characters in the series. Cade, after nearly 500 pages, still hasn't grown on me. He needs to be bitch-slapped. Darth Krayt, and his Sith sidekicks, for that matter, are phenomenal villains, and my interest really perked up when he was front-and-center. The revelation of his identity is a true shock, but the reveal will probably fall flat for most readers, since he was a minor character in another Ostrander STAR WARS book that most people probably haven't read. Luckily, some of the supporting cast captured my attention, and kept me interested.

 Another big selling point is the art, by Jan Duursema. She doesn't draw the whole book (Some issues are illustrated by Adam Dekraker and Colin Wilson, both decent artists.), but man, when she's not handling the art, the book takes a huge hit. She's definitely one of the most underrated comic-book artists ever.

 STAR WARS: LEGACY, BOOK 1 is a smaller-than-standard-comic-book-size hardcover, and it's a square little chunk of a book. The small size was a detriment to my bifocal-needing old ass, since the tons and tons of word balloons were so small that reading them was difficult and migraine-inducing. The book doesn't lie flat when it's open, and after a few days of on-and-off reading, it now has a serious case of spine-lean, which drives my OCD collector-mania nuts. It's an attractive package, however, and it lured me in enough to make me glad that I've already purchased the second volume. The book contains STAR WARS: LEGACY issues 0 1/2-19. (Seriously...? Zero issues aren't bad enough...0 1/2??? Really...?) As usual, Dark Horse has covers all over the place, with no issue #'s attached, so I have no idea if all of the covers are accounted for.