The World of ‘What If?’

Hey everyone!

You may remember that I mentioned, a few blogs back, that I’m currently in the middle of (re)reading a lot of the Star Wars literature from the original trilogy chronologically. Well, I’ve taken a brief break from that today to read the three Star Wars: Infinities comics, and thought I’d share my thoughts with you all!

Star Wars Infinities

The basic premise of these comics is to take one event from each film, and imagine that it went just a little bit differently, then spin the story out in a whole different direction. The result is something of a mixed bag.

Let’s start with A New Hope. Luke is making the trench run, Vader is about to shoot him down when Han swoops in and provides enough covering fire for Luke to dump his proton torpedoes and make his getaway. However, due to a malfunction in one of those torpedoes, they detonate early and the Death Star is not destroyed. The rebels manage to escape from Yavin IV before it is destroyed, but they don’t escape the system. Luke and Han fly off, but Leia and the rest of the command are taken captive. Ben appears to Luke and tells him to go train with Yoda on Dagobah, so Han drops him off before going off to try to clear his debt with Jabba. Meanwhile, Leia is indoctrinated by the Empire and, five years later, Han sees her in the thick of the Imperial celebrations of five years of peace, so he heads off to find Luke. Now a Jedi, Luke is concerned by the news that Leia survived, only to have become an Imperial agent, so heads off to Coruscant with Han – and Yoda! – to confront her. The Death Star – newly renamed the Justice Star – is to become the roving capital of the Empire when Yoda is dropped off there, Han and Luke evading the Imperial fleet to land on the surface. They infiltrate the Emperor’s Palace (formerly the Jedi Temple), confront Leia, Vader and Palpatine, and in the ensuing fight Vader is redeemed as he dies by Palpatine’s hand, but Luke, Han and Leia manage to escape before Yoda crashes the Death Star into the planet, wiping out the Emperor. Years later, more celebrations commemorate Leia as the first Chancellor of the Republic on Naboo.

For The Empire Strikes Back, the pivotal moment comes when Luke dies out in the tundra on Hoth. Yes, that’s right kids, Luke dies! With his dying breath, he seems to instruct Han to go to the Dagobah system and train with Yoda. The Imperials arrive on Hoth in the middle of Luke’s memorial service, and the rebels barely manage to escape. Han heads to Bespin’s Cloud City, where Lando agrees to repair the Millennium Falcon, but Boba Fett shows up and demands Lando turn Han over to him. In the ensuing fight, Chewie knocks Fett out, and Lando encases him in carbonite, using the block as a new desk. With the hyperdrive fixed, Han and Leia head off for Dagobah, just as Vader arrives in-system, demanding the rebels be turned over to him. When Lando tells him they’ve escaped, the Empire bombards Cloud City. Han and Leia arrive on Dagobah and Yoda reveals it is Leia who must train to be a Jedi, not Han. Han and Chewie leave to try to work off their debt to Jabba, but when they arrive on Tatooine after months spent collecting the money, they’re captured and turned over to the Hutt anyway. They manage to escape, setting Jabba’s pet nexu loose throughout the palace. They leave just as Vader arrives, and while he doesn’t get Han or Chewie, he does collect C-3PO from the Hutt’s palace. Revealing it was he who created the droid, Vader discovers the location of Leia from Threepio’s memory banks. Leia has been training hard on Dagobah, and is on the brink of knighthood. Yoda dispatches her into the swamps to get a crystal for her lightsaber, shortly before Vader arrives. In the ensuing battle, Vader’s demons are brought to the fore in a psychic battle of wits, but just as he is about to overcome the torment and kill Yoda, Leia returns and the two battle. Vader tries to tempt Leia into joining him, but she resists and, as he is about to move in for the kill, Han and Chewie arrive and blast him. With his dying breath, Vader is redeemed. Yoda, also dying, bids Leia begin a new generation of Jedi.

Return of the Jedi begins with Leia’s negotiations with Jabba, but it all goes wrong when Threepio is knocked aside and so unable to translate the exchange. Leia brings out her thermal detonator trump-card, and in the confusion the grenade is knocked around the throne room. Boba Fett escapes with Han still frozen in carbonite, and Leia and Lando are forced to flee the palace before it explodes. They regroup with Luke, and embark on a search of Tatooine for Fett. On Dagobah, Yoda dies while Luke is searching, his death causing ripples in the Force felt by the Emperor, who dispatches Vader to the swamp world. Luke, also sensing his erstwhile mentor’s death, returns in time for the Force-ghosts of Yoda and Ben to tell him about Leia and Vader. As Luke is leaving, he is captured in orbit by Vader’s star destroyer, and barely manages to get a message to the rebel fleet. Meanwhile, Leia and Lando discover Fett’s location as the bounty hunter is trying to sell Han to the Imperials. The rebels manage to rescue him, stealing Slave I in the process, but by the time they get back to the fleet at Sullust, Han has been in carbonite for too long. When they defrost him, he is permanently blinded. Luke’s transmission is received, telling Leia of their relationship, and also warning them away from the Death Star at Endor. Leia takes Slave I and rushes off anyway, and is also captured. The Emperor orders Vader to kill her, causing the battle between father and son. Luke’s entreaties eventually break through, and Vader surrenders rather than killing his own children. On Endor, the rebels are trying to destroy the shield generator. Their activity brings them to the attention of the native Ewoks, who begin to attack both the rebels and Imperials indiscriminately. Lando, Chewie and the blind Han arrive in the Falcon and knock out the shield generator, before flying up to the Death Star while Wedge is making his attack run. Lando rescues Luke, Leia and Vader, though the Emperor has mysteriously disappeared. The Death Star explodes, and the rebels escape. Subsequently, while Luke and Leia are discussing their next moves with Mon Mothma, a now-redeemed Vader offers his insight in tracking down his former master, in new, white armour.


 

The Infinities ‘trilogy’ (the term is really fairly loose, as each installment assumes the previous film happened as-is) can be a lot of fun. I would definitely say that the quality declines with each ‘film’, however. A New Hope is really an excellent take on the whole thing, both the idea of alternative-reality within the universe, and as a genuinely entertaining story. A lot of the dialogue from subsequent films, such as the Dagobah scenes of ESB, are used, which is a nice touch. In many ways, it feels much like a truncated version of events of both ESB and RotJ. The idea of the Empire ruling a galaxy at peace, the ‘Justice Star’ under Tarkin’s command, and so many other things are really nicely executed. Particularly nice touches were the scene on Ord Mantell, where Han learns of Leia’s change of loyalty, and having Palpatine take up residence in the Jedi temple.

Infinities-Empire is a curious beast. Having Luke die in the tundra was a massive change, and I think that probably puts me off it, as Luke is perhaps my favourite character in the entire saga. However, if you’re going for alternative-reality, I suppose it doesn’t get much more alternative! The artwork is slightly cartoon-y, as is usual for the Fabbri/della Vecchia team, but I don’t really mind that, as they’ve illustrated some of my favourite stories. The Cloud City scenes were a real nice twist, as was seeing Jabba! Perhaps my absolute favourite part of this book, though, was the cameo of Vilmarh Grahrk, who Han hires to take the money to Jabba (he reasons Jabba would be so angry as to have him killed on sight), but who double-crosses him and collects the bounty as well as Han’s repayment (and the Falcon!) Fans of the Quinlan Vos storyline from the Ongoing/Republic series will no doubt be pleased to see the Devaronian in the classic era. The final battle features what seems to have become a favourite thread for comics authors at this time, bringing prequel imagery into the classic era. So Vader is assaulted by phantoms such as Qui-Gon and Mace, and eventually ends up as a child-Anakin under Yoda’s psychic assault. It is, however, nicely done, and I think the book manages to strike a really nice balance between the whimsical and the serious.

“Now with 99% fewer Ewoks!” is how Infinities-Jedi was marketed back in 2004, and there are only two panels where the furry critters appear, with what seems to be a more fearsome look than that of the film! The story is definitely the weaker of the three in my opinion, it seems to follow the course of the film too strongly when compared with the others. (What would you take as the jumping-off point? Leave a comment!) I think the ending was a bit too much – the inexplicable escape of the Emperor seemed to deprive it of any great sense of resolution, but Vader’s white armour was just too bizarre to contemplate!

Taking them as entertaining diversions and ‘what could have been’s, they are each pretty fun in their own way. I would never pass up the chance to read any, of course, but if you only get to read one, I’d recommend ANH for fantastic story, or ESB for entertaining whimsy. RotJ I’m just not that much of a fan.

As always, I love to hear what others think, so feel free to leave your own musings in the comments!

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