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Meant to be a companion to the 3D re-release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, this comic will remind fans of all the good parts of the first of the prequel trilogies. The theatrical release in the U.S. for the 3D adapation is set for early February 2012. With a flair for the dramatic not unlike the film, the characters leap off the page as memories of these film characters clash against the imagination of the Star Wars fans. Expectations from fans are well-met, as the first Star Wars film is given life on beautifully colored pages.
Written by Henry Gilroy with penciling by Rodolfo Damaggio, the storyline and character models are accurate down to some of the most memorable lines in Star Wars history. Inking was done by Al Williamson, while Dave Nestelle and Harold MacKinnon handled colors. Ravenwood is the cover artist.
Unlike the film, however, the comic book medium does hold different challenges for writers and artists. A film is much longer in length than a comic, and thus, certain scenes from the movie have been removed for the sake of saving page space, which is a shame. You will still get the focused story you would expect, but scaled down to book size, so that it is a portable read, rather than a lengthy movie.
Still, the writers of this comic have been able to instill the very essence of these beloved heroes onto the page. Authenticity has never been a problem with Star Wars comics, and this is true here as well.
The challenge comes from trying to give life to sound and sight, from having to swing a lightsaber or deflect a blaster bolt. There is only so much that words on a page can do, so it is up to the fans to fill in some of the necessary blanks. The hum of a lightsaber as it swings through the air is an iconic sound many fans will remember, so this memory is helpful when reading these comics.
Unlike many Star Wars comics, the ones based on the films themselves have always had a somewhat mixed reaction amongst fans. Usually a comic fills the void where a movie does not yet exist. When there is a movie that exists, how does a comic compete? The answer is that it does not compete.
Instead the comics are meant to be an enticement to get you back into the movie. You will remember the sound of Obi-Wan’s cry as Qui-Gon is struck for the final time, but can only read the words off the pages.
In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the characters, rather than being immortalized on film, are immortalized in comic book art forms that will last a lifetime. All the comic has to do is exist on a shelf and remind fans that the comic is good, but the movie will be even better. Master Yoda in this comic is drawn with such care that he appears both younger than in the movies and also more expressive. It makes you want to go back into the films just to see if the comic image is better than the movie version.
There have been many comic book newcomers that have been confused with the 2D Clone Wars titles and the CGI Clone Wars titles. Thankfully, unlike many other Star Wars Comics that have come out, The Phantom Menace is a fairly unique title and storyline that has not been wedged into the confusing mass of Clone Wars titles that pervade comic book store shelves. When you pick up Phantom Menace, there is never a doubt that you will be talking about Episode I that was 2D with real people.
Thus, a perfect tie-in does exist for comic book fans, where you will not only be able to read the lines that the actors spoke, but also how things could have been different. Not caught up in the fast pace of a movie, this comic will make you think more about why each element of the movie already exists and a deeper appreciation for Episode I may surprise fans. This comic is available through Dark Horse Comics here for pre-order.