Writer: Dave Land
Artists: Davide Fabbri (p), Christaina Dalla Vecchia (i)
Publisher: Dark Horse
What If... Luke Was Killed At The Start of The Empire Strikes Back? It's old Marvel riffs once again as Dark Horse supposes a divergent 'reality' for Empire with no Luke...except it's same old, same old (at the moment...).
The intrinsic problem with a series like this is that issue one almost by definition has to be all setup for the rest of the series. Whereas Marvel had the Watcher who could pop up and in one page lay out the new scenario for the rest of an issue to follow, in these enlightened modern times this one-page is replaced by one issue!
So, the first few pages are devoted to Luke being attacked by a Wampa and its mate, Han finding Luke but just too late to save his life - but not too late to have a Wrath of Khan moment as Luke orders Han to find Yoda on Dagobah and train as a Jedi. Next - as in the film - the Empire attack the icebase of the Rebels...except unlike the film they send in Tie Fighters to sweep away the Snow-Speeders first. With no Snow-Speeders, the AT-ATs break through to the base very quickly, before the transports get away - all hell breaks loose, and the implication is that the Rebellion is in deep doggy-doo.
The Millenium Falcon escapes as in the movie and heads for Bespin for repairs - except no Darth Vader awaits them there, instead it's...well, that would be telling. Although the final page surprise is given away four pages before the end, rendering a splash page as the last page a little superfluous - an astute reader knows who will be there, so why waste the space? A more subtle hint earlier in the book would justify it, but this depiction was rather blatant, I feel.
The art works well throughout, although the hardware is depicted more true-to-movies than the characters, almost as if the artists have over-compensated in that area, knowing that ships etc would be hard to get right, so they spent too much time there and not enough on the likenesses of, say, Harrison Ford.
A steady, dependable although not over-exciting or imaginative, kick-off to this four-part series. Here's hoping it really kicks loose in the next three issues...
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