Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Okay. For the record here’s my critique on Star Wars. And what’s happened to Star Wars.

Star Wars is *%$ing awesome. It is. It always will be. Forever. At the end of the day I don’t care what you think about the new movies it’s still cool just by virtue of the fact that it IS Star Wars. This is undisputable. NOW. THAT being said why don’t people like the new movies (and some of the new comics)? Well. I have a few theories.

The first one is that the new movies just AREN’T the movies that you imagined that they were going to be. That doesn’t make them BAD MOVIES by any means. Just different. See, growing up you always kind of assumed that Anakin Skywalker was going to be like MacBeth. Like his life was going to be this epic, EPIC tragedy, of Shakespearean proportions.

The story of Anakin Skywalker, as embedded in the deep unconscious of every Star Wars fanboy’s mind by the dialogue in the original movie, went like this: Anakin Skywalker became a beacon of hope and light in the universe, helping the Jedi Knights, the literal ‘tools’ of the forces of good and fights corruption and evil at every turn. He was idealistic and strong, the kind of man that people flocked to. But, the problem was, the Dark Side was evil.

The Dark Side was so evil, actually, that it could ‘sneak in’ to your deepest darkest thoughts and feelings and begin to corrupt you. The Jedi have to always be guarded against this sort of thing as the Dark Side (and the Dark Side’s followers) would tempt them to do evil and these temptations would sound human (isn’t it only natural, to feel angry? To feel scared?). Slowly, SLOWLY, Anakin began to lose sight of what was right and wrong, until the very Republic he had helped forge plummeted into chaos. That’s just how EVIL the Dark Side is; no matter how good a Jedi you are, it can turn your best qualities against you.

Now, for better or worse. Here’s the story of Anakin Skywalker, as told by the new movies: Anakin Skywalker grew up a little too needy and dependant on his mother. He never really got over that, causing him to have severe emotional problems later in life. While he was trained to become an incredibly powerful Jedi, he never really learned to ‘rein it in’ with his feelings. And the Jedi (who, honestly, might not totally have all the answers after all and are just another political organization like any other in the universe) seem to quietly ignore this. Or at least, do little to help Anakin resolve this deep seated character flaw.

Eventually, Anakin goes off the rails and starts killing Jedi left and right rather than just &*%ing talking to someone about his anxiety issues. His former mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, seems strangely shocked and surprised when this happens (because, I mean really, who didn’t see that coming, right?). But there are some things you do that are so embarrassing and shameful, that there’s just no going back or saying you’re sorry afterwards. You gotta live with it. So Anakin decides "well- too late now". And becomes evil.

It’s not exactly Shakespeare material, is it? I mean it makes more SENSE, in a way, that someone LIKE that would BECOME so chaotic and evil. But the problem with this incarnation of Anakin is- that it’s HIS fault. A hundred years of darkness sweeps over the galaxy just because Anakin Skywalker refuses to GROW UP. It’s disappointing. We like this idea that the Dark Side did it to him, more than we like the idea that Anakin was just such a mess that it was inevitable.

Of course, there’s a few other bits and pieces where the new movies just aren’t comfortable for us, I think. I really love all the CGI and everything. I mean, there’s this whole bewildering array of just STUFF in the new movies that George Lucas wasn't capable of creating in the original trilogy (technology wasn't there). Spaceships. Aliens. Vehicles. But I don’t know; it’s like…too much, suddenly. I mean, okay, in the old movies, there’s a huge and wild array of stuff too. That’s what we loved about it. But there was this little element of culture in Star Wars. It was sort of like you knew that the X-Wing starfighter was THE starfighter that the Rebel Alliance used. And the TIE Fighter was THE starfighter that the Empire employed (cheap and expendable).

So there was this sense that the universe was a place that you could live in. Starfighters used astromech droids to navigate, protocol droids helped people speak with each other, the ‘Spice Mines of Kessel’ was a very bad place that you never, EVER wanted to end up in. It was all fantasy. So you didn’t have to know the details. But even though you didn’t get to know all there was about the universe that the characters lived in you felt like you COULD know it. Like if you were a person living in THEIR universe you WOULD have known it because in this big, galactic culture, everyone did.

But the new movies it’s like there’s just too…much…STUFF. You know? It’s off-putting. It seems unknowable to me. There’s some cool ideas, like clone troopers jumping out of Blackhawk helicopter-esque transports to run into battle against waves of droid soldiers, but something about it just doesn’t ‘hold together’ with the old movies. Doesn’t ‘feel’ like a place, to me. That and just- I don’t know.

I know the whole point of the prequels is that the Republic becomes the Empire, but there’s something about the way it happens that just makes all the fighting seem futile to me. Suddenly, all of the war in Star Wars just seems…empty to me. Meaningless. You grew up feeling like the forces of good and evil were secretly orchestrating events and fueling the conflicts that you were watching.

In the new movies you just feel like people are fighting for almost no reason. (Yes, I am aware that that’s the POINT, in regards to the Sith plot). It just leaves you feeling like the wars will just keep going. Even the conflict between the Alliance and the Empire just seems arbitrary, who ended up on what side of the line. And hey. Maybe that’s how it is, in real life...but that’s not why we loved Star Wars, right!?

Long story short? I see a lot of the same stuff in the comics. The new comics have some wild ideas and a lot of them are neat. Sometimes it feels like what I’m saying though- there’s just so much jam packed into them, so much new stuff that it makes everything in Star Wars seem ambigious. There’s too much in Star Wars for anything to feel distinct TO Star Wars, anymore. I was a huge Rogue Squadron fan. I can’t say enough good things about this comic. This, to me, is the perfect example of what a good Star Wars comic can do. It doesn’t try to add to the canon (although I love all of the Star Wars novels that were coming out in the 90’s- Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy is great). It just tries to tell you a story set in that universe. And it feels like Star Wars (to me anyway).

I don’t know of many comics set in this era of Star Wars. I do really dig Dark Times, which I’ve mentioned before and Knights of the Old Republic has sort of become the baseline Star Wars fans interest these days. I think partly because KOTR is sort of more like what the fans thought the Star Wars history should look like (that is, while KOTR is set generations before the movies, I think fans would have preferred for the prequels to have ‘felt’ like KOTR).

And, actually? After some thought I really DO think Star Wars Legacy is cool. Weird. VERY weird, but cool. It’s set generations ahead of the movies in case you’re wondering). But what can I say? I just want it back. The ‘classic’ Star Wars. Can’t someone get something going on that?