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Star Wars: Visionaries
Written by Robert E. Barnes, Ryan Church, Warren Fu, Alex Jaeger, Sang Jun Lee, Stephan Martiniere, Aaron McBride, Michael Murnane, M. Zachary Sherman, Derek Thompson, Erik Tiemens, Feng Zhu - Art by Robert E. Barnes, Ryan Church, Warren Fu, Alex Jaeger, Sang Jun Lee, Stephan Martiniere, Aaron McBride, Michael Murnane, Derek Thompson, Erik Tiemens, Feng Zhu - Published by Dark Horse (US), Titan Books (UK) - First published 2005
Anthologies of short stories based around movies can often seem half hearted: part of a marketing machine designed to extract more money from the fan while a movie's still 'hot', with scant regard for the quality of the final product. Thankfully, this is not one such anthology. Despite being released close to the hype surrounding Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and including stories based around some of Episode III's characters, it's impossible to walk away from this book with the feeling that most of its creators have thrown the thing together.
For starters, there's the pedigree of the people involved. The artists on this book are the art department of Skywalker Ranch: the people who helped George Lucas come up with the visual concepts behind almost everything we see in Revenge of the Sith. These guys don't just care about the Star Wars universe - they live it. What's even better is that they've been offered the opportunity to explore any corner of the Star Wars mythology that takes their fancy. Some have predictably chosen to expand on characters and concepts that appear in the third prequel, others have disappeared into other times and places, focussing on elements from the other films.
With artistic curriculum vitae's like these, you expect the art to be good, and it is. But their story-telling, plotting and scripting isn't half bad either. Being an anthology it's no surprise to find some elements that aren't going to appeal to all types of reader, but there are a handful of stories here that hit the mark so well it's worth putting up with the odd bit of disappointment.
When it comes to the crunch, this is attractive eye-candy offering some nice background reading for Star Wars fans. If you want something more substantial it's certainly worth opting for the recently published Clone Wars or Empire storylines instead. But that's not the point of this - it's light, airy, sometimes poignant and comes from the desks of the people who are closest to the whole Star Wars thing. That alone should make it near-essential reading for hardcore Star Wars fans.
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