Slowly but surely Marvel Comics is working their way through the Star Wars tales originally published by Dark Horse Comics. Out today is the fifth volume of their “The Empire” Legends line and the focus is nearly exclusively on the two most famous droids in the entire galaxy. C-3PO and R2-D2’s six part miniseries Star Wars: Droids from 1994 and the 1995 series by the same name are published here. Plus, additional stories from Star Wars Galaxy Magazine #1.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Artoo and Threepio steal the spotlight! Even before joining the rebellion, everyone’s favorite droids had plenty of exciting adventures. With the Empire on the march, the squabbling duo fi nd themselves right in the middle of trouble in the Kalarba system – but is Corellian rogue Jace Forno friend or foe? On the smuggler planet of Nar Shaddaa, con artist Olag Greck has a brush with the law – the newly deputized droids! Then, with a new Ithorian master to follow, Artoo is laid low by a computer virus! And thrill to planet-saving action co-written by C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels! Plus, pirates, bounty hunters, rock monsters – and Artoo’s day out!
Why does this matter?
If 480 pages of droid action sounds appealing to you, buy this as soon as possible! For collectors, this is the fifth installment in Marvel’s release of unbroken Star Wars stories. That allows readers to get a reading experience for this topic like the original fans did 20 or so years ago.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This book starts with the two runs on Star Wars: Droids the first being six issues and the second being eight. Both runs give readers an all-ages reading experience with both characters acting as you might expect. These adventures occur prior to A New Hope, but after Revenge of the Sith as their memories have been wiped. You’re essentially getting their personalities as they explore strange worlds and have amazing adventures. Some highlights include the droids encountering a C-3PO lookalike who is a killing machine bounty hunter. In other stories, C-3PO’s ability to communicate with rare alien races comes in handy. Plus at one point R2-D2 holds people up with a blaster!
It’s also worth noting cover artist Dan Thorsland gave each issue not only a beautiful and artistic preview of what is inside but did so with great detail and imagination. These covers sold the book very well, especially when you consider how cartoony and simplistic the art can be. There are however incredibly creative droid designs throughout.
Speaking of art, The Protocol Offensive, drawn by Igor Kordey and co-written by Anthony Daniels (yes, THE Anthony Daniels) and Ryder Windham is a stand-alone work that’s visually amazing. It’s all painted, but done so in a realistic way similar to what Alex Ross might produce. It helps put you in the action and it feels like a lost Star Wars tale. It gets at the heart of how C-3PO is quite clever and how R2-D2 is always hungry for adventure. Originally published in 1997 it’s a story that leans into horror and never forgets the voice of these beloved characters.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
Wrapping up the book is Star Wars Tales #16 and #20, one of which uses real photos of the original cast and the other is very much like a newspaper cartoon. They don’t really fit in with the rest of the book, but completists will love it. That said, the photo art is jarring and looks a bit fuzzy. I think the artist painted over stills, but it’s distracting and awkward.
Generally speaking, much of the stories here are so light it’s hard to care about what is going on. Familiar faces are few and far between and new droid characters tend to be cute rather than compelling. The dynamic of C-3PO always complaining can grow a bit tiresome, too.
Is it good?
I had fun with this collection even if it can grow a bit tiresome. The all-ages approach is perfect for the younger set, but older readers might find a good chunk of this collection run of the mill. That said, Anthony Daniels’ contribution, as well as the incredible cover art that’s breathtakingly good, makes this a must look at the very least.