Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope
Based on a screenplay by George Lucas
Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
Artist: Howard Chaykin
Consulting Editor (1977): Archie Goodwin
Cover Artist (2015): Adi Granov
The original comic adaptation of the greatest space-fantasy film of all is remastered for the modern age! Weeks before George Lucas’ first Star Wars film hit theatres, Marvel gave fans their first look at Luke Skywalker, boldly asking: “Will he save the galaxy, or destroy it?” You may know the answer, but that doesn’t spoil the fun of seeing Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope like never before…including scenes that never made the silver screen! When Princess Leia is taken prisoner, Luke, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 ride to the rescue and take on Darth Vader in his awesome Death Star. It’s six against a galaxy – one that’s far, far away and a long time ago! May the Force be with you, in the mighty Marvel manner! – from the back cover blurb, Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope
With Star Wars’ 38th anniversary approaching and the release of Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens only seven months away, Marvel Comics is reissuing its classic 1977-1983 comic book adaptations in a trio of hardcover graphic novels.
On May 5, 2015, Disney-owned Marvel Worldwide published Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope, a 128-page volume that contains issues 1-6 of Marvel’s original 1977 Star Wars comics.
The Comics – Then and Now
Originally introduced in April of 1977, the six-issue series was scripted by a young writer named Roy Thomas and drawn by Marvel’s legendary Howard Chaykin, the artist who also created Star Wars’ first poster in 1976. Based on an early version of George Lucas’s fourth draft of the Star Wars screenplay, Thomas’s comic adaptation gave fans their first truly visual look at Star Wars nearly a month before the film’s premiere.
Though Thomas’s script adheres closely to Lucas’s finished film, the comic book adaptation tells a slightly different version of the events in Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope.
For instance, Thomas introduces Luke Skywalker in a scene that intercuts the capture of Princess Leia’s consular ship with panels of the young moisture farmer seeing the battle through his macrobinoculars. Director Lucas shot those scenes at the insistence of some of his friends who thought Luke needed to be in the movie earlier, but discarded them (as well as another scene which showed Luke and his friends in Toschi Station) because they slowed the movie’s pacing.
There are other, more subtle divergences between the comic adaptation and Lucas’s movie. In his introduction to the remastered version, actor Peter Mayhew, who plays Chewbacca the Wookiee in five of the seven Star Wars films, writes:
In the comics, Chewbacca often comes off as a barrel-chested bruiser rather than the gentle giant he was in the films. Seeing another artist’s interpretation of the characters, whether it be in comics or book form, is always fun for me.
Other minor changes include:
- Darth Vader uses the Force to summon a cup across a Death Star conference room during his confrontation with an Imperial admiral.
- Jabba the Hut (only one t in this iteration) is depicted as a vaguely humanoid alien in a scene that was filmed but deleted from the 1977 film. This sequence was restored for the 1997 Special Edition; the humanoid alien was replaced with a CGI-rendered slug-like Jabba the Hutt based on the character’s appearance in Return of the Jedi.
- The two Rebel fighter squadrons’ call signs in the comics are Blue and Red; in the film, Luke Skywalker’s X-wing squadron was Red, while the Y-wings belonged to Gold Squadron.
Marvel Comics has reissued the six issues that comprise this 2015 collection several times. In 1977, before VHS videocassettes were widely available and decades before the invention of DVD and Blu-ray discs, comic books allowed fans to relive the adventures of Luke Skywalker and his Rebel friends in a visual medium. Consequently, Marvel’s Star Wars issues #1-6 were so in demand that the publisher reprinted them in various formats, including a black-and-white trade paperback edition and a super-sized Marvel Special Edition Featuring Star Wars #3 (1978).
The 2015 remastered edition is a refined version of Marvel Special Edition Featuring Star Wars #3. It presents Star Wars issues #1-6 in one volume divided into six chapters. Each chapter break is introduced with a remastered reproduction of its corresponding comic book issue.
The six chapters are:
- Star Wars
- Six Against the Galaxy
- Death Star!
- In Battle with Darth Vader
- Lo! The Moons of Yavin!
- The Final Chapter?
The six covers by Howard Chaykin are recreated in their over-the-top 1970s style, with wildly imaginative illustrations that capture the swashbuckling spirit of the story but don’t accurately reflect the issues’ content. (On the cover for issue 36, for instance, Chaykin depicts a lightsaber duel between Luke and Vader with this breathless teaser line: See Luke Skywalker Battle Darth Vader!)
The comic books’ original artwork and most of the text have not been messed with – much. Disney-owned Marvel did not compel Thomas to rewrite his script to fit the film’s established canon, nor did Chaykin have to redraw Chewbacca so the Wookiee looks less like “a barrel chested bruiser.” Luke Skywalker is still Blue Five (instead of Red Five), and lightsabers are still referred in the text as “lightsabres.” There’s even an old uncorrected typo (“you’ry my only hope” instead of “you’re my only hope”) in one Chapter Two panel.
And for those wondering if Disney is engaging in a corporate bit of historical revisionism, there is some of that. For instance, the cover art for Issue #1 still says “Marvel’s Official Adaptation of the Monumental 20th Century Fox Movie!” However, all other references to Fox in interior pages have been removed.
The major artistic difference between the 1977 comics and their 2015 remastering (other than the format and price) is that colorist Marie Severin’s 70s Pop style color scheme was replaced by a more subtle new coloring done by artists from Chris Sotomayor’s Sotocolor. Sotocolor retouched every panel in the six issues to give them a more coherent and modern look.
In addition, Sotocolor color-corrected the energy blades of the lightsabers belonging to Star Wars’ two Jedi characters, Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, especially on the covers. In Chaykin’s 1977 art, all the lightsabers, including Darth Vader’s, were rendered in red.
However, the Star Wars films established that only Sith lords use lightsabers with crimson energy blades, so Sotocolor recolored Luke and Obi-Wan’s laser swords to the more canonic blue.
All in all, Marvel’s remastered version of Star Wars – Episode IV; A New Hope is a nice compromise that will please most fans. It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel by changing the 1977 comics text or art except as noted. The book even includes then-editor in chief Stan Lee’s introduction to Issue # 1 and Roy Thomas’s essay “The Story Behind Star Wars: The Movie and the Comic Mag.”
This slim hardcover edition, which includes a code for digital copies for Apple iOS and Android devices, makes a nice addition to any fan’s Star Wars library.
- Series: Star Wars
- Hardcover: 128 pages
- Publisher: Marvel (May 5, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0785193480
- ISBN-13: 978-0785193487