To prepare yourself for the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi (like you need more hype), Marvel is releasing the paperback volume of their adaptation of The Force Awakens. Marvel’s other Star Wars series have been fairly successful, but a movie adaptation can be challenging. Is it good?
Regardless of the quality of this novel, its release is significant because it was this film that truly rejuvenated Marvel’s Star Wars Lineup. In addition to the handful of current ongoing series, Marvel has successfully put out a multitude of additional one-shots which have brought life to old and new characters alike. You have to give them a lot of credit for putting top-notch creative teams on these series to elevate the Star Wars literary universe in its return to Marvel. Unfortunately, this novel is not evidence of its success.
Successful movie to graphic novel adaptations, especially one that belongs to such a celebrated franchise, are few and far between. There are no guidelines outlining how far creators should deviate from the original, nor how similar the script should be. A successful novel is able to evoke the feelings as the film, but create enough new perspectives to make it feel like an original work. Wendig opted to take a more direct approach by copying the script word for word and it doesn’t pay off.
Wendig’s writing, or rather his selective copying, attempts to replicate as much of the original script as possible which really bogs down the storyline. Each issue is text heavy and some pages include multiple conversations and minutes of dialogue crammed into a single panel. The result is a story with awkward sequencing and stilted language due to lack of context, which not only ruins the story for those familiar with the film, but newcomers as well (although I’m sure the latter are few and far between).
Luke Ross does a decent job with the art, but nothing that can make up for the recycled writing. Ross’s faces get awkward up close with an exaggeration of facial lines, yet some panels would kill for half of the lines featured on Han Solo’s craggily face. What I can say is that there’s a balance between essential scenes replicated in the film and original panels and arrangements that enhance the story, including the infamous death scene.
Is It Good?
I was excited to see what the creative team could do to with the story to infuse some original perspectives, and capture the magic that Abrams was able to create. Instead, we’re given a recycled and identical script that tries to incorporate too much of the film rather than focus on the essentials. With the art simply mediocre, there’s no salvation for the novel. Remember folks, sometimes less is more.