October 2, 2008

Comics Worth Reading -- Star Wars: Vector

Okay, so the Clone Wars movie didn't excite me much. At all. Although I hear rumors the television series is better than the movie . . .

But here's something that got me excited about Star Wars again.

It's called "Vector" and it's a miniseries that crosses over a number of different Star Wars comics from Dark Horse. The different series all take place in different time periods, and that's what initially attracted me to the story. From a purely analytical POV, I wanted to see how they went about doing it.

But I stopped reading from an analytical POV with the first issue.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #25
Vector Part 1, written by John Jackson Miller

I looked at that first cover and I saw Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and two dudes I'd never heard of (although I assumed one of them is Luke's ancestor, because I at least knew enough about Star Wars: Legacy, one of the titles the crossover went into, to know it was about the grandson or grand-nephew or whatever of Luke).

In this first issue, we're introduced to a bunch of characters that have been established in this series: Knights of the Old Republic, which takes place generations (I think) before the movies. But the writer does a fairly good job of introducing the characters to new readers (like me).

But what gets me excited in this issue is the opening prophetic dream that has Luke, Darth, and the new Skywalker . . . and makes it known that something terrible is going to happen.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #26
Vector Part 2, written by John Jackson Miller

And something terrible DOES happen. It's a plague, and it has something to do with the force, and I'm not going to get into the details too much because I recommend people read the series and enjoy and experience it for themselves.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #27
Vector Part 3, written by John Jackson Miller

Now, other than the initial prophetic dream sequence, the characters I know and love don't appear in these first three issues of this story. And that's okay. The characters who DO appear are likable, and the story itself is intriguing.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #28
Vector Part 4, written by John Jackson Miller

The first four issues of the "Vector" story make for a great first act. I really enjoyed it. I'm curious about the further adventures of those characters, and I'm curious about earlier adventures as well. The old pocket book may not let me actually read them, but I was pretty happy/satisfied with the story. And I was ready to get into some of the characters I DO know . . .

Star Wars: Dark Times #11
Vector Part 5, written by Mick Harrison

"Dark Times" is Dark Horse's Star Wars comic series about Darth Vader, during the time between Episode III (when he is "created") and the original Star Wars movie (still can't bring myself to call it Episode IV).

Again, I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but generations have gone by and Darth finds the ancient plague . . . and some other ancient evils . . .

Star Wars: Dark Times #12
Vector Part 6, written by Mick Harrison

. . . and we get to see Darth in some good old fashioned Jedi fighting.

There's much more to it than that. Again, I don't want to give too much away. But the writers of this crossover series do a nice job of finding a natural device, that makes sense in the context of the story, to move the action (and even some characters -- again, don't want to give too much away) generations ahead in time.

But as cool as it is to see Darth in action, he's not who I was waiting for.

Star Wars: Rebellion #15
Vector Part 7, written by Rob Williams

I was a pretty big fan of the Star Wars comics when they were being published by Marvel. In those days, we didn't have a VCR, so the Star Wars comics were all I had to fuel my Star Wars excitement between movies. As a result, I did get pretty fond of and attached to the original trilogy characters. (And I still think, as I said in my Clone Wars movie review, an animated series featuring those characters would be fun, but I'm biased.)

Star Wars: Rebellion #16
Vector Part 8, written by Rob Williams

Again, a nice, natural device is used to move the story from Darth's early years to Darth's later years is utilized. And it works. Putting on my analysts hat, this is one of the better crafted crossovers I've seen, and not a lot of absurd concepts have to be put into play to make it work. The Rebellion chapters and the Dark Times chapters flow together so seamlessly, you almsot don't notice it's two different titles the story just passed through.

Getting away from looking "under the hood" as a writer, and switching over to being a reader and a fan, I'm just enjoying seeing Luke and Leia in action again.

Sadly, Luke's chapter in the story is only two issues long out of the twelve. So far, that's my only complaint about the crossover.

Star Wars: Legacy #28
Vector Part 9, written by Rob Williams

What will the future bring? That's my only concern. Like the first four chapters, which dropped me into a series revolving around characters I know nothing about, these final four chapters are about the future "Legacy" of the Skywalker family -- and again, these are characters I don't know about.

Will the story sustain itself? I don't know.

But man, I've not gotten excited about reading a new Star Wars story in a while.

Ah, but here's the difference:

With Clone Wars, it felt like they were just doing a story with the Star Wars label and expecting you to like it because it's called "Star Wars", it has lightsabers, spaceships, and explosions.

With "Vector", it feels like they're trying to tell a good story and using Star Wars characters to do it. And they succeeded.

Dark Horse, and those four writers plus whatever editors and story consultants worked on this story have done a great job. This is how a crossover should be done.

~ Ben