The Force is strong with this trade. (Couldn’t resist!)
What They Say:
Collected here are three different tales where one thing happens differently than it did in the original trilogy of Star Wars films. The familiar players—Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Darth Vader—are launched onto new trajectories that send them toward dire consequences and unexpected futures! Collects Star Wars: Infinities—A New Hope; The Empire Strikes Back; and Return of the Jedi.
A New Hope:
Writer: Chris Warner
Artists: Drew Johnson and Al Rio
Inks: Ray Snyder and Neil Nelson
Colors: Dave McCaig and Helen Bach
Lettering: Steve Dutro
Empire Strikes Back:
Writer: Dave Land
Artist: Davide Fabri
Inks: Christian Daila Vecchia
Colors: Dan Jackson
Lettering: Steve Dutro
Return of the Jedi:
Writer: Adam Gallardo
Artists: Ryan Benjamin with Dan Norton and Juvaun Kirby
Inks: Saleem Crawford with Ryan Benjamin
Colors: Joel Benjamin
Lettering: Michael David Thomas
I’ve always been a fan of “What If?” stories. Back in the day Marvel used to run a monthly series by that name where writers would postulate what would happen if Gwen Stacey hadn’t died, or if the Avengers lost the Evolutionary War. It was a fun bit of imagining that allowed the writers and artists to play with these characters and do things that they would not normally be able to do in the regular comics.
Star Wars Infinities works along the same line. There are three stories here—A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi—told from a different point of view stemming from simple “What If?” questions. What if the original Death Star hadn’t exploded? What if Luke died on Hoth? What if Han Solo had not been taken to Jabba’s palace? Like ripples in a pond, or the beat of a butterfly’s wings for you chaos theorists out there, the aftereffects of these changes the entire story, and it’s that combination of the new with the familiar that makes this such a fun read.
Revisiting characters and plots from beloved franchises is like revisiting old friends. We know the stories they are going to tell or the jokes they’re going to make, but we still laugh and enjoy because we have such affection for the person. That’s why so many people can rewatch the Star Wars movies (for example) again and again and again. It’s like catching up with an old friend.
What makes Infinities so much fun, though, is that we get to see those old friends in new and different situations. The characters may change, such as Leia becoming a Jedi instead of Luke (I know that she does become a Jedi in the expanded universe of books and comics, but I’m keeping my references to the original trilogy because that’s the source text from which Infinities draw), but she is still Leia. She reacts the way that we would expect her to, maintaining the core of her character. That faithfulness to the characters is where Infinities really shines and why it works so well. Han Solo sounds like Han Solo, and I completely believe that this is him in these familiar-yet-new situations.
On top of that, there are just some really cool moments in this trade, such as Yoda using the Jedi Mind Trick on Grand Moff Tarkin to turn the Death Star on the Imperial fleet and eventually crashing it into Coruscant. The sense of play and a general attitude that anything can happen make this fun to read the first time around, but it also holds up on multiple readings because of the quality of the writing and the art.
Each artist possesses a different art style, which helps differentiate the stories and provide different visual experiences for the reader. Drew Johnson and Al Rio have a nice, clean style reminiscent of Neil Adams or the Kuberts. Davide Fabri’s art is a bit more stylized and expressive while Ryan Benjamin, Dan Norton and Juvaun Kirby’s style is an interesting mix of photorealism and the stylized and it is greatly enhanced by Joel Benjamin’s colors and the inking of Ryan Benjamin and Saleem Crawford. There are some beautiful panels where the artists play with light and shadow to enhance the mood, making it the most visually appealing of the three stories.
With all the hype lately about Star Wars, it’s nice to return to the characters from the original trilogy. I’m not going to get into the debate on which trilogy was better, but I will say that I grew up with Luke, Han, and Leia, and I have deep affection for them as characters. It was great fun seeing them in new situations and witnessing how these artists change these once-familiar stories. The writing was solid, the characters true to themselves, and the art was consistently good throughout with Return of the Jedi being the most innovative and interesting. Fans should definitely check this out. Highly recommended.