Steam Punk Doesn't Work With Everything
I've never been someone to pick up on the steam punk craze. It's never been something overly appealing, as I don't feel the style change makes much sense or works with a variety of the ideas or mediums that it is applied to. So, when I stumbled across this on Free Comic Book Day, I couldn't resist picking up just to see how ridiculous this thing really is.
A7 Entertainment is a lesser known comic book company that seems to have a thing with adapting almost anything into Steam Punk. At least, that's the impression that the ads at the back of the book gave me, which included Steampunk Red Riding Hood, Steampunk Snow White, How to Draw Steampunk, and Time Lincoln, who is, surprise surprise, Steampunk-ified. Admittedly, some of their franchises do not feature this, but it's hard not to notice the glaring theme.
Now, when first viewing it, I was a little confused by the subject matter; what with Disney buying out George Lucas of all his popular franchises, wouldn't they have the rights to this? Well, apparently this series was written a little while back, seemingly just around the same time as the buy-out occured. Because of this, or the absurd subject matter, the series looks to have only lasted 4 issues. So, with not much else to provide, it seems that A7 just decided to rerelease this "beauty" rather than come up with anything new for Free Comic Book Day.
The story should be pretty self-explanatory; Star Wars with the steampunk aesthetic, right? Well, not exactly. Rather than rehashing the same story, A7 decided to sort of rework the tale, perhaps to fit the new setting. And while I'm generally okay with these re-imaginings, I feel like there needs to be some sort of purpose for the changes made for it to be okay. Here, it generally feels pretty nonsensical.
We start the story with the classic beginning of Episode 4, with Darth Vader and his troops attempting to capture Princess Leia, who is called the Duchess, using their Star Destroyer... blimps. The designs for the Storm Troopers and Rebels, for me, don't really synch up, as they feel like they come from two very separate time periods. The Rebels look like British troops and the Storm Troopers more like samurai.
This, however, is when the story gets a little wonky. It seems here that Han Solo, named Hansel Lowe, has been working with the Rebels for some time, but with no interaction with the Duchess. She's brought on board what we are to assume is the Millenium Falcon, where we face some of the worst interpretations of these characters in this book. C-3PO, called Clees for some reason, is a fanciful, British robot that has a metal pipe permanently attached to his mouth and a cup of wine. He is also displayed as calm, witty, and a bit cocky, much like the Han Solo of the films. Chewie, named Smokey of all things, is a bear with robotic hand-like cuffs attached to his paws, having little to no personality beyond the fact that he's a bear. These two, while having the right color schemes, resemble nothing of what the original series was aiming for. While Hansel does look a bit like a dumb cowboy stereotype, this does fit his original character well. Leia looks almost exactly like herself from the films, but loses a little personality later on.
Vader is known as Lord Baron, dressed like a ship captain all in red, and seems to have some sort of pyrotechnic ability to see into the heads of people and divulge secrets only to set their heads on fire. He dies seem somewhat like the source material, and for me is the least questionable of the changes. The only thing that seems a little odd to me is that he looks more like the head of the Rebels than he does the samurai-esque Storm Troopers.
There's a brief section when the Troopers are chasing our protagonists and Leia takes the place of Luke in learning how to shoot out of the turrets on the ship. However, she has very little confidence, but hits everything she sees. However, she talks about it incessantly, allowing for the enemy to get a hit on the ship. This feels so unlike the Leia we know, who is confident on most things, even when captured by the enemy, and never talks about herself like a little girl. Here, she is made to seem weaker as a person, even if she has a lot of "good luck".
Eventually, they crash land on Tatoonine, and Leia is separated from the group, who all seem to be fighters (even Clees, who totes a huge Gatling gun). She does so because she clumsily drops her satchel, which has the secrets she is keeping safe in them (again, reducing her character ti something less than stellar). Something that is really noticeable at this point is that she has been given nerdy glasses to emphasize her eyes a lot more, resulting in her seeming less than competent, reducing her to a nerd stereotype. She is quickly captured, only to be saved by Luke, who is called.... Bo, or Beauregard Baron. Why such a silly name? I'm not sure. He also wields the storm foil, which is a sword surrounded by lightening which can be shot out of the sword.
Why exactly is he wielding a sword already, and acting more like Obi-Wan rather than the padiwan that was Luke Skywalker? In the last moments of the book, he reveals that he knows he is the son of the Baron, seemingly trained by his dad. This, to me, is a huge miss. While everyone knows that Vader is Luke's son when going into the source material now, it still is an effective means of developing certain characters and creating some drama and tension later on. Here, it just kind of falls flat, leaving me with an empty feeling.
The art is okay as a whole, but doesn't add much to the experience. There are certain color palettes that are used for the different factions in the book (and not just the uniforms, but the backgrounds and panels as a whole), which, while a nice touch, removes some of the creative potential.
As a whole, this book isn't anything special, or particularly good. If you need a Star Wars fix, I'd suggest looking elsewhere