With a backlog of recorded episodes and episodes to record very soon, Star Wars Beyond the Films‘ Nathan P. Butler is now posting short, non-spoiler reviews for many new releases. Spoiler-filled discussion will often follow in the weeks thereafter on the podcast. (In the case of minor releases, that discussion may be kept for a Year in Review series of episodes.)
The Original Trilogy: A Graphic Novel by Alessandro Ferrari (hardcover, 2016)
Star Wars film adaptations are a dime a dozen, and over the decades, these attempts to recreate the Star Wars films in other media have been of highly variable quality. Some have been brilliant, such as Matthew Stover’s novelization of Revenge of the Sith, while others have made us wonder whether the writer had actually seen the films (or done so while on drugs), such as a certain recent The Empire Strikes Back adaptation.
When word came that a trilogy of Brazilian comic acaptations of the Original Trilogy was set to be translated into English and released as a single hardcover volume in the United States, I was not at all excited. Did we really need yet another adaptation of the films?
It turns out that in some respects, the answer is actually . . . yes.
Bare Bones But Beautiful
Star Wars: The Original Trilogy: A Graphic Novel is a “pure” adaptation of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. It follows the films almost exactly with dialogue mostly intact (barring editing needs for space). Those with an eye toward detail will also notice that these adaptations actually use the newer cuts of the films, such as Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker Force ghost.
The story is carried by artwork that feels a little bit cartoony (which makes sense, given a younger target audience) and reminiscent (at least to my eye) of manga. The color work in particular really stands out, bringing a flourish to the artwork that the actual Star Wars manga adaptations (reprinted by Dark Horse beginning nearly two decades ago) never managed with their black and white format.
The only real downside to the work is that, as noted, it is an almost exact adaptation of the films, which means a lack of extra (or deleted) scenes or new information to provide what I’ve referred to as the “Stover Effect.” What you see in the films is what you get here.
There is little that I can really say about Star Wars: The Original Trilogy: A Graphic Novel. It is a stylized but beautiful adaptation that breaks no new ground. It gets the films right, which is a step above many of the earlier adaptations like those from Marvel around the films’ theatrical releases, but it does not add anything substantial to the experience.
If you are looking for a solid, accurate adaptation of the Original Trilogy, this is definitely one to pick up. If you are looking for something new or original amid the pages of film adaptations, this is one you can skip, though you will be missing out one some nice artwork in doing so.
Recommended for: Those looking for a mostly accurate comic adaptation of the Original Trilogy.
Not recommended for: Those looking for new tidbits in such a comic adaptation.
A copy of this book was received from Disney Press for review purposes.