Graphic Novel/Comics Review

Star Wars: Visionaries

(2005) various artists, Titan Books, 12.99, trdpbk, 136pp, ISBN 1-84576-110-3

As pre-production began on Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in early 2002, concept designers and artists were brought together to work on ideas for the new movie. Of these early ideas, some would be developed and end up in the movie, others would inspire the direction, while others would be abandoned due to time constraints or because they were just not worth considering. Such is the case in blockbuster movies, but the Episode III team felt inclined to explore these ideas further and even publish them for the fans to appreciate. Dark Horse were happy to oblige.

This book contains 9 comic stories and a selection of artwork, all written and drawn by the artists who worked on the movie. The results vary. It goes without saying that the artwork is gorgeous, and the work of Warren J Fu, Derek Thompson and Robert E Barnes is especially impressive. Those whose main interest in Visionaries is the unused ideas gloriously illustrated by top Hollywood artists will not be disappointed

The writing quality is the main flaw with this book. Star Wars should always be about adventure and excitement and, thankfully, there is nothing too cerebral about Visionaries. Standouts include Derek Thompson's "Sithisis", which manages to exude menace and intrigue despite the complete absence of dialogue; the aforementioned Warren Fu provides an interesting story covering the origins of General Grievous; and the opener, "Old Wounds" by Aaron McBride, features the action-packed return of Darth Maul.

The stories are all entertaining enough, but there are still a couple of weaker examples that disappoint somewhat. "The Artist of Nabu" is rather slow and drawn out, focusing on the art rather than the story, and "Wat Tambor and the Quest for the Sacred Eye of the Albino Cyclops" is just plain confusing.

Over all this is a nice collection with a couple of gems that would definitely deserve a place in the Star Wars fan's collection. The art itself is a joy to behold, but in some cases the writing is far from being the artists' strong point.

Peter Thorley

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