"Star Wars: The Legends of Luke Skywalker" Manga Offers Light Side Stories for Hardcore Fans [Review]

Star Wars publishing is big business, has been since the first movie premiered back in the 1970s with the novelization and Marvel comic. Disney owns both Star Wars and Marvel Comics now, so they can create synergy with Marvel publish Star Wars comics.

One slightly overlooked offshoot of Star Wars publishing, however, is manga. Since the 1990s, publishers in Japan have licensed the rights to publish manga from Lucasfilm. Since Disney took over, Japanese publishers have licensed the rights to adapt the spinoff novels that are supposed to be canon.

Viz Media published the first English translation of these new adaptations this month. Star Wars: The Legends of Luke Skywalker adapts Science Fiction author and editor Ken Liu's short novel The Road to Star Wars: The Last Jedi – The Legends of Luke Skywalker.

The book is really an anthology of stories starring Luke Skywalker when he was with the Rebel Alliance at various stages of his development as a Jedi. Different people recount their encounters with Luke that become part of his legend as the myth of the Jedi recedes further into legend.

"The Starship Graveyard" by Akira Fukaya and Takeshi Kisaki

The first story takes the view of an idealistic young Imperial officer who fights Luke Skywalker at the peak of his Jedi powers. Luke singlehandedly crashes a Star Destroyer into the deserts of Jakku. He then helps the officer survive long enough to be rescued and changes his mind, as you would expect.

"I, Droid" by Haruichi

The second story comes from a droid stolen and forced by slavers who use droids for slave labour. Forced to become a brutal enforcer of the other captured droids working in minds, the droid meets R2-D2 and C3PO, who herald the arrival of you-know-who to to free them all.

"The Tale of Lugubrious Mote" by Fukaya

The third story is the silliest of the four. It's one of those fanfiction retcon stories that takes place in the opening of Return of the Jedi where Luke, Princess Leia and company attack Jabba the Hut's headquarters to rescue Han Solo. The narrator of this story is…an intelligent flea who gives both Leia and Luke advice while the events of the movie unfold. This story is  goofy and silly. Luke thinks the flea's advice is the voice of the Force helping him out. But then that's consistent with how dumb he could be in the early movies, so why complain?

"Big Inside" by Akira Himakawa

They saved the longest and most ambitious story for last. Akira Himakawa is the team behind the authorized Legend of Zelda manga adaptions that started in the 1990s. A biologist and Luke Skywalker get trapped inside a giant whale-like creature. They try to find their way out and solve the mystery of ancient Jedi writings inside the creature.

Star Wars has always been a good match for the unself-conscious earnestness of manga. The way manga uses a more cinematic use of montage for maximum emotionality works well for Star Wars. This collection of stories isn't necessarily essential. They make for light reading for young readers and hardcore fans. They're probably only for hardcore fans yearning for more Luke Skywalker.