Is Marvel’s Star Wars #1 worth the cover price?

We are, by no means, avid comic book collectors nor appraisers of fine comics but Marvel’s Star Wars #1 does boast a few “firsts”.

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Cover art of Marvel's Star Wars #1 by John Cassaday. Image: Marvel (Entertainment Weekly)

Cover art of Marvel’s Star Wars #1 by John Cassaday. Image: Marvel (Entertainment Weekly)

It is the first of the Star Wars franchise to return to Marvel after the company handled official adaptations and held a Star Wars series along with the original trilogy.

It is the opening salvo to what is shaping up to be a year of Star Wars, with planned release of comics, events (Star Wars half marathon anyone?) and the most anticipated movie of the year, The Force Awakens.

It is the first comic to be held under the watchful eyes of the LucasFilm Story Group, a new order of librarians likened to the Librarian’s Assembly, who oversaw operations of the Jedi Temple Library. The order has declared all previous Expanded Universe as fictitious and undertaken the gargantuan task of resetting the Star Wars canon.

It is also a reboot of Marvel’s original Star Wars series which ran from 1977 to 1986.

According to Forbes, it (already) boasts a record 1 million copies sold, the first since Batman #500, where the Bat had his back broken by Bane and Jean-Paul Valley steps in for the Dark Knight. This was in 1993, the golden era of specialty printings, collectible variants and the rise of indie publishers.

Marvel's Sara Pichelli's Star Wars #1 variant edition. 1/20.

Marvel’s Sara Pichelli’s Star Wars #1 variant edition. Availability ratio: 1:20.

And, for collectors, there are a multitude of variant covers for Star Wars #1, with art done by Alex Ross, Scott J Campbell, Sara Pichelli amongst others. These covers range in value depending on the clout of the artist and their rarity. Some have limited runs of 20, 100 or 500, with no restock unlike the regular covers. See Star Wars fansite RebelScum’s exhaustive (U.S) list.

Of course, as any fan would know, value for Star Wars merchandise tend to appreciate. Especially when Disney is cultivating a new generation of wide-eyed space wanderers with its Star Wars Rebels series and the awesome Star Tours in Disneyland.

But is the comic itself worth the cover price?

The story is set after the heroes ceremony on Yavin 4 in Episode IV: A New Hope and before the rebel base on Hoth was attacked by Imperial forces (AT-AT walkers!), seen in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

Fresh off the destruction of the Galactic Empire’s greatest weapon, the Death Star, Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, R2 and C3PO — in the “trusty” Millennium Falcon —are on a mission to disable the Empire’s biggest weapons factory located on a moon.

So, as you can expect, there will not be any major twists coming up in this series (at least, not in #1). You know, whatever happens, our heroes will be found on Hoth. Darth Vader and The Emperor will be thwarted, and the heroes may get another medal at the end of it.

A page from Marvel's Star Wars #1. Image: John Cassady, Laura Martin (Entertainment Weekly)

A page from Marvel’s Star Wars #1. Image: John Cassady, Laura Martin (Entertainment Weekly)

However, it would answer some questions we had about how Luke advanced in his path to be a Jedi. Does he face Darth Vader before the iconic scene in Empire Strikes Back? Does Han and Leia’s romance blossom here (Leia did seem a little more worried about Han when he went out after Luke on Hoth)? Will C3PO ever shut up (answer: no).

As mentioned at the beginning, we’re not avid comic collectors. Our first collections were manga such as Akira, Xenon, Nausicaa: The Valley of Wind and Crying Freeman. We’d then moved on to Batman graphic novels with special interest in Frank Miller’s work. We had been spoilt by the rich detail that Japanese illustrators such as Katsuhiro Otomo and Hayao Miyazaki delivered, so John Cassaday’s art — while impressive (especially in likeness of Han, Luke and Leia) — did nothing for us.

The plot was not exciting as well, since we knew there won’t be any potential big twists or reveals but writer Jason Aaron’s masterful rendering of dialogue brought the characters to life. As we studied and pored over the panels, we could hear Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher’s voices in our heads. The personalities of our heroes also shone through effortlessly. Han’s reckless charm, Leia’s steely defiance and Luke’s innocence and bravado were as when we’d watched A New Hope for the first time. C3PO wasn’t as naggy as we’d remembered but possibly because he appears as a disembodied voice in this issue. You don’t need to be a Jedi to foresee a cliffhanger at the end of the book but it is a good one. We may not continue collecting hardcopy issues of this series, but wouldn’t rule out subscribing to digital versions on Marvel’s Digital Comic Shop. [Update: All Star Wars #1 regular cover comics come with a free digital copy, redeemable at Marvel.com/redeem]

Darth Bearbrick approves of Star Wars #1.

Darth Bearbrick approves of Star Wars #1.

So to answer the title question: Is the comic worth the cover price? Yes, but only if it’s the indicated US$4.99 value.

Fortunately, Atom Comics will offer #1 for S$4.99 as part of its launch party on Jan 17, 2015 (1-day only). Events begin at 12pm at its Handy Road (The Cathay) premises. Look out for the local 501st legion, who will make an appearance between 3 to 4pm. Regular retail price of the comic is at S$9 for non-members. Prices for variant covers start from S$15. The shop will also launch their loot box service with a special Star Wars themed one today.

Absolute Comics sells the regular cover #1 for S$12, with variant covers going at S$39.90. Retail for regular covers at G&B Comics is at S$8.50. They’ve sold out their variant editions.

Digital editions are US$3.99 at Marvel Digital Comic Shop.

This list is by no means exhaustive so if you know of any deals or comic stores in Singapore bundling variant editions or special buys, do let us know in the comments.

Variant edition hunters can also head to Amazon to order (a top-end Joe Quesada sketch variant cover is going for US$400!); or if you’re an Alex Ross fan, you could preorder a special autographed set that includes Star Wars #1, Darth Vader #1 and Princess Leia #1 covers only available on its online store [Update: Alex Ross has replied; they do ship to Singapore for US$36 – calculations will be made at checkout].

Will you get a variant edition or a regular issue? Tell us in comments.

BONUS: Get previews to Star Wars: Darth Vader and Princess Leia comics at the back of the book.

Preview of Star Wars: Darth Vader #1.

Preview of Star Wars: Darth Vader #1.

Preview splash page of Star Wars: Darth Vader.

Preview splash page of Star Wars: Darth Vader.

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