Sunday, May 14, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Dark Force Rising

In the earlier years of Dark Horse's tenure with the Star Wars license, they adapted the first original Star Wars books, Splinter of the Mind's Eye and Han Solo at Stars' End to comic books.  They also adapted the first books of the new era, Timothy Zahn's The Thrawn Trilogy.  The first 6-part mini-series was based on Heir to the Empire and every issue was the top selling Star Wars comic for the month they were published.  Even more impressive, each issue was in the top 25 comics sold the month they were released!  With these strong numbers, it only made sense that the second book was adapted as well.  Also a 6-part mini-series, Dark Force Rising #1 was published in May 1997.  Despite being the top selling Star Wars title for the months it was published, Dark Force Rising never cracked the top 25 list.

The cover art is provided by Mathieu Lauffray who also did the cover art for the first mini-series.  But, instead of using the original French artists for the interiors, the artwork was penciled by Terry Dodson.  Dodson should be familiar to modern Marvel comic fans, as he provided the artwork for the Princess Leia mini-series as well as numerous variant covers for the Star Wars line.  Heir to the Empire has very stylized European art whereas Dodson brought a more traditional U.S. comic style to Dark Force Rising.  If you are reading the mini-series back-to-back, the change in art style can be jarring.

Star Wars: Dark Force Rising #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (May 1997)
Star Wars: Dark Force Rising #2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 1997)
Star Wars: Dark Force Rising #3a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 1997)
Star Wars: Dark Force Rising #4a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (August 1997)
Star Wars: Dark Force Rising #5a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (September 1997)
Star Wars: Dark Force Rising #6a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (October 1997)
One thing I miss from these stories was the maturation and use of Lando Calrissian who is shown on the first cover for this mini-series.  He isn't just a background character in the Thrawn Trilogy, he is an integral member of the original trilogy characters, just as important to the stories as Han Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, or Chewbacca.  It is unfortunate he did not make an appearance in The Force Awakens and I'm happy to hear he will be appearing in the upcoming Han Solo movie.

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