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Manga A New Hope - Manga Volume 1
Art: Hisao Tamaki
Covers: Adam Warren
Editor: David Land

Summary

Translates and reprints a Japanese adaptation of the classic film, Star Wars: Episode 4 - A New Hope. Farmboy Luke Skywalker meets Ben Kenobi and disaster searching for his new droids.


EnsViews Comic Review
Reviewed 07/22/98

Story
As a straight-forward retelling of a story we've all seen dozens (hundreds for me) of times, there shouldn't be much to talk about writing-wise should there? There's nothing to discuss about the dialog because it's pretty much taken word for word from the movie script. The story is no surprise.

Out of interest sake, I reread DH's ANH:Special Edition adaptation created last year. Surprisingly, the issue of writing became very prominent in my opinion of this Manga adaptation. These two adaptations vary drastically in terms of detail and pacing in a way that may be a reflection of the cultures that spawned them.

The ANH:SE adaptation has a very uneven pace. I really doubt that a person who hadn't seen the film would enjoy or fully understand it. It races through the story catching only random snapshots with random significance.

This Manga adaptation is meticulous and deliberate. We don't just see the major events. We see how each scene flows from setup to action to the end, and we see how the characters think and feel. Yet, the pace is never slow... it's rich. If Lucas had made Star Wars as a comic rather than a film, this is how he'd have scripted it. I can only hope that it's not too late for Dark Horse to take a few lessons for its upcoming Episode I adaptations.

It's worth noting that there are a few panels that deviate from the film in a way that should delight the cut scene freaks out there. The story begins with Luke and Treadwell and binoculars, we see Biggs on Tatooine in a few flashback sequences, and there's a fantastic new Jawa scene that would have added more to the Special Edition than most of the changes we saw.

Art
Obviously, we all know the story of ANH. The only reason for this title to exist is for the new art. A good portion of Star Wars fans have little, if no, real experience with serious manga work (mine is limited to the film, "Ghost in the Machine"). I can't tell manga purists out there how this title fares, but in my uninformed opinion this art rates much higher than a simple change of pace.

The first item of note is that the title is in black and white. Tamaki simply could not rely on a talented colorist and expensive technology to deliver the goods. Second, the manga style itself dictates a certain level of simplicity and abstractness, so the whole thing must be conveyed keeping the lines on the page to a minimum.

Despite the cartoony style, Luke was heroic, Vader was frightening, Tarkin was evil, Ben was wise, the Jawas are a blast, and we're treated to the best depicted R2-D2 and C-3P0 I've ever seen. (The "Droids" comic series would have lasted a lot longer with art like this.) This art is deeply rich and profoundly simple all at the same time.

Reading this book made me very aware of Star Wars' status as a modern myth. Like Robin Hood or Zorro or the Knights of the Round table, this story was being retold from a different world view blending timelessness and freshness. Star Wars is very eastern in nature, and it shows here.

Conclusions
Both the story and art are fantastic, so this should be a must buy, right? Well, unfortunately the answer is no. Priced at $9.95 US per issue, this is a premium item. You already know the story, the radio drama is much better at presenting new scenes, and the novelization is much cheaper if you'd rather read than pop the tape in the VCR. This is a luxury. If you can afford it, you'll love it... but if you can't, you might want to save your money for Mara Jade and X-Wing: Mandatory Retirement. (Still, it's cheaper than buying the Japanese originals.)

8.5/10. Fantastic quality, but too expensive for a familiar story.

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"EnsViews" are copyright 1997-8 by Paul Ens. They are posted to rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc, emailed to Dark Horse Comics and archived on theForce.net. With the exception of Dark Horse Comics Inc, they may not be reprinted without permission.

Titles, Cover images, Dark Horse Comics, and the Dark Horse logo are trademarks of Dark Horse Comics Inc. and its respective Licensors.

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