Later this year, George Lucas‘ original, unused concepts for what became Star Wars are to be published in a new, Dark Horse comics adaptation. But what was this abandoned story actually about?
Well, it depends on which draft you’re looking at. It seems like Dark Horse are working from Lucas’ very early, undeveloped ideas, not the more complete Adventures of the Starkiller script.
You can read an “edited” draft of this later screenplay at the Jedi Bendu site. I can’t tell you quite how it was edited, but the work was done by one Brendon Wahlberg, the author of a fan-fiction follow-up, Princess of Ondos.
Much of the script hems pretty closely to scenes from Star Wars as eventually filmed. There are two droids, Threepio and Artwo, and they end up on a desert planet, fleeing the Sith Lord Darth Vader. The droids team up with a character called Luke, and then head to Mos Eisley Spaceport and recruit the assistance of one Han Solo. Chewbacca comes along for the ride on their long distance mission. Ultimately, Luke flies a rebel spaceship towards a giant Imperial space station, The Death Star, and destroys it with a well-targeted shot on the exhaust port.
But there’s an awful lot that’s very, very different too.
No Princess to be rescued. No Obi Wan Kenobi or, really, any direct analog.
The key MacGuffin is a small gem, The Kiber Crystal, that amplifies the force for whoever is using it. Luke carries this in his belt, and it often tips the balance of power in favour of the good guys. Without the Kiber Crystal, the final run on the Death Star wouldn’t work.
It’s disappointing to see the Force tied to something as banal as a crystal, denied its more “spiritual” dimensions. See also: midichlorians.
Vader’s superiors are Valorum and The Emperor Cos Dashit. Yes, Cos Dashit. Why? Cos Dashit.
There’s precisely no indication that Luke and Vader are at all related – indeed, Luke’s elder brother, Deak Starkiller, is a key player too and it’s crucial that Luke is part of a different family line. This story’s family dynamics are completely different. Still, those family dynamics changed film to film anyway as Lucas changed his mind and cooked up new, crazy twists.
Lucas employed Ralph McQuarrie to draw up some concept art for this iteration, and it was now that some of the visuals we still think of as Star Wars were developed. It’s some of this imagery that I’ve spread about this post.
But – again, to make it clear – it doesn’t look like Dark Horse are working from this almost-there version, but going back to the 1974 version, the so-called Rough Draft.
This time there was a Luke Skywalker, but he was older, and a general and not the lead character. That would Annikin Starkiller, son of Kane, brother of Deak. The final attack is not on a space station but on a fortress that the Empire have taken over during the story. And this attack is executed by Wookees in ships – no i in Wookees this time – while Annikin is inside rescuing Princess Leia.
I’m sure the comics might be fun and could give the script that little bit of work that would make the story really click but if you’re looking for an insight into Lucas’ creative processes, you’d be better of reading what bits and pieces of his documents can be found online.
I’ll point you at a PDF of the Rough Draft. As I said, this particular version is likely the basis for the comics, with the same plot points and characters.
Right then. Enough of this looking backwards. Back to staring at the horizon, looking for glimpse or glimmer of Episode VII…
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