Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: Infinities Volume 1 (various makers)

Infinities collection Volume 1 is Star Wars in a way like you've never seen it before. The first three stories it has, cover the three original movies, giving them a twist: in the New Hope Luke fires at the Death Star but doesn't destroy it, causing empire to capture Leia and allowing Darth Vader and the Emperor to start corrupting her to the dark side. In the Empire Strikes Back, Luke dies in hypothermia at planet Hoth, which leads Leia to be trained to be balance the force needs and finally in the Return of the Jedi destruction of C-3PO puts a dent in the rescue operation of Han Solo, which escalates into Han losing his sight and Yoda dying before Luke gets back to Dagobah.

While the first three stories are interesting, none of them is particularly amazing. They're not bad, and all of them have some solid ideas in them, but they don't manage to rise above a notion of "well, that's a cute idea". What really makes the collection worthwhile is the adaptation of George Lucas's first complete draft for Star Wars, simply titled as The Star Wars. This really is Star Wars like you've never seen it before, having both familiarity and alienity about it that separates it from the original movie so much, that it makes it a story of its own.

In The Star Wars, an older Jedi Bindu-order warrior Kane Starkiller loses his younger son after a warrior of the rivalling Knights of the Sith order attacks them. Starkiller and his family have been in the hiding since the Sith have destroyed most of the Jedi and the empire has taken over most of the galaxy. Tired of running he goes to his old friend, Jedi General Luke Skywalker, whom he entrusts his older son Anikin Starkiller as a Jedi Padawan trainee.

Anikin Starkiller is already a competent warrior and a veteran of several battles. Skywalker accepts him as he senses, that he has the makings of a great warrior in him.  The planet Aquilae, the last free planet system in the galaxy, is about to enter into war with the empire, led by general Darth Vader, who with governor Hoedaack, is leading a huge, spherical battle station to Aquilae in order to conquer it. A huge difference here with Vader of the movies, as he's just a general, not a powerful Sith Lord.

During the first battle, two robots, Threepio and Artwo, who look almost like their counterparts in the movie, escape the imperial space station, as they're afraid of being destroyed in the combat, as the Aquilaen fighters do manage to cause some damage to the huge ship. The big differences in these two are, that Artwo speaks as well and has a bit of a similar mentality with Threepio, instead of the more adventurous one he has in the movies.

The royal couple of Aquilae is afraid of the safety of their children in the upcoming invasion, so Skywalker entrusts Starkiller to go and get Princess Leia from her school and keep her safe. He also enlists the help of his old friend, Han Solo, to help them find a way to get Leia and her twin brothers out of the planet. Oh, and this time Han Solo is a green, swamp thing looking alien instead of human.

At this point both of the robots have joined Starkiller and Skywalker, who keep the imperial droids around because they're convinced that they have important information about the station itself, considering that's where they're from.

The imperial forces, led by Darth Vader, Hoedaack and Sith knight prince Valorum, conquer Aquilae, but the royal children, Starkiller and Skywalker do manage to escape to a different planet, Yavin, where they meet huge, savage race of wookies, whom they enlist in helping to get rid of the battle station and the empire in the Aquilae. These wookies are a primitive race, but they'll soon get the hang of how to fly imperial fighters. There's also Chewbacca here, but as he's more primitive, he fields no energy crossbow. He also befriends Starkiller before he even sees Han Solo.

The wookie squadron and Skywalker manage to wipe out the defences of the battle station and the invasion of Aquilae ends with the station blowing up, taking Vader with it. As a twist, the Sith knight prince Valorum decides to jump on the side of Starkiller, whom he meets while the young man is rescuing the princess from the battle station. Valorum states, that the Imperials have no honour and from the looks of it he prefers things how they used to be before the Imperium.

After all, is said and done, the heroes, including the robots and Chewbacca the wookie, get medals, Starkiller gets the girl (as you know, no relations in this one) and is at the same time named as lord protector of Aquilae. All rejoice in the victory and the dent made to the empire.

Among the other interesting differences in The Star Wars is, that the force isn't a mystical power the Jedi and the Sith field. It's more clearly an aspect of an old religion, and the good luck wish "May the Force of the Others be with you" is presented as a commonly known and used phrase, that feels like it's coming from an old prayer. The Jedi and the Sith are both presented as warrior orders, who are very good at what they do, but they both lack the monk-like presentation that was attached to them in the movies.

The main weapon of the Jedi and the Sith alike, the lightsaber, is in this universe more commonly used a weapon, that is fielded by regular people as well as the imperial soldiers. And speaking of imperial soldiers, as a whole the imperial forces, even the stormtroopers, feel much more ruthless and sinister in this version of the tale. Also, the emperor, who has a small role in the story is more of a cunning and ruthless politician, not a scheming Sith lord.

The artwork of the story is based on the old sketches that were made for the movies, but that wasn't always the version that ended up on the screen. A lot of the design also draws from the movies, combining elements of familiar design into something different.  Also, the characters are very different and in the movies, the characters are clearly mixed from several characters from this draft, like the movie Darth Vader is a mix of the general Vader and the Sith Knight Valorum and the movie version of Han Solo has a lot of traits taken from Anikin Starkiller.

The art itself comes from the pen of Mike Mayhew and he's managed to create a stunning looking story from J.W. Rinzlers script. While the narrative itself is at places a bit too simplistic, at least it always looks great, no matter what is going on. But, then again, it's not like the New Hope was an overly complex tale.

The Star Wars is definitely an interesting story. It's pretty rough at places, but at the same time, it's an interesting look at how Star Wars we know today could have been like. At the same time it also is one of the more interesting Star Wars comics I've read largely thanks to the fact that it's showing something familiar in a bit of a different light, but still, it's something that was created by the original creator of the franchise. And that, I think, makes it feel somehow more legit.

Also, if you were wondering, this draft proves that writing romances were never a particular forte for George Lucas. Here the romance of Anikin and Leia is presented in such a hamfisted way, that it makes the prequel trilogy romance look like great writing.

But yeah, now I'd actually want to see this one turned into a movie.

You can get Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: Infinities Volume 1 from stocked comic stores or from ecomic retailers, like Comixology.

While those What If? stories based on the original movies weren't super great, they did, at least, offer Pimp Vader to the world. So thanks for that.