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UNION

A graphic novel by Michael A. Stackpole and Robert Teranishi (2000, Dark Horse Comics)
19 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Disaster threatens to strike as Luke and Mara prepare for marriage.

 

 

3+ stars

Read on November 22nd, 2004 for the second time  
    While I still liked this book the second time around, I didn't find it nearly as good as I implied below. I disagree with my statements that the artwork is amazing, and that everything flowed so nicely.

In fact, I didn't think the artwork had much at all to recommend it. There are a few places where Mara stands out, most particularly when she puts on her wedding dress for the first time. Other than those few places, the details were barely there. Nobody had much in the way of facial features, and often I couldn't tell who was in the frame just by looking at them. I wonder if my tastes have changed since seeing the incredible stuff at the beginning of The Defense of Kamino!

One of the things that I really did like was the way we weren't' given introductions to the people right away. We heard them talk about their spouses and ways of life, and could infer who they were from that. Later, we get their actual names, confirming, or redirecting, their identities.

The best thing about this graphic novel has to be the cast. Taken from all the heroes from the books published up to this point, the cast of Luke and Mara's friends is quite large. As of the time this book was published, each of these people had only marginal page-time; many of them were really fleshed out in the New Jedi Order. The only ones I think were drawn really well, however, were Talon Karrde and Booster Terrick, who looked especially awesome in their tuxedos. Where was Corran's beard? At least one line of Corran's dialog was actually given to Kam Solusar, during their initial sparring, leading to even more confusion.

When I had read this book for the first time, I had not yet read Starfighters of Adumar, which is where Wedge and Qui Xux broke up, and he started seeing Iella again. That takes place seven years before this, which explains how they can have two daughters the ages presented here.

I also liked the depiction of Jacen, Jaina and Anakin Solo, even though they don't get much screen time. The banter between the kids was a highlight, but not as much as the constant banter between the adults. I laughed many times at their nearly acerbic comments.

I don't have much to say about the Imperial Threat, non-existent as it was, because I could have done without the whole thing. The way Luke talks the assassin into passivity was really pathetic. This part of the book, as well as some of the wedding preparations, dragged on slowly. I didn't understand the purpose of the bar fight being shown without any dialog, just ham-faced fist-fighters. What happened to using the Force?

On the whole, though, I did enjoy the book, which had more good points than bad ones. It is definitely not among the best of the graphic novels, however, in terms of story or artwork.

 

 

Read on June 24th, 2001  
    Probably not for everybody, but I liked it. It was mostly simple banter and worries leading up to the wedding, but it felt real.  The Imperial Threat could have been omitted, but it gave the Rogues something to do.

The first thing I want to note is the drawing. Vibrant colors, combined with accurate depictions of how our heroes would likely look in twenty years really amazed me, and had me looking at the art long after I had read the pages. Toward the end, Luke's face seemed to be distorted, but for the most part, it was really nice to see.

The depictions of the others was also very well done. The only problem I had with it was the number of characters that I couldn't identify. I knew them all, but I couldn't tell who was who. There were several exceptions, however. Leia was always identifiable, but she looked the same as she was in Return of the Jedi. Wedge was also easily identified on most pages. Aside from the movie characters, Talon Karrde looked dashing, and Booster was easy to distinguish. I didn't recognize most of the Rogues and the Jedi, however, as Gavin, Kam, Corran, and the others seemed to merge together. It was nice to see Mirax and Iella (finally - but she seems to be married to Wedge; is Qui Xux no longer in the picture?). I wondered where Winter was. One of the characters seemed to be her (mentioning Tycho, her husband), but she didn't fit Winter's description.

Most magnificent of all, however, was Mara. She was drawn with absolute perfection. She was described by Timothy Zahn in Heir to the Empire as stunningly beautiful, and here, she is all that, and more. Her fiery red hair, piercing green eyes, and beautiful smile made watching her across the pages more than worth opening the book. And when she was revealed in her wedding gown... well maybe I'm still sappy over my own wedding three years ago. I just loved it!

Most of the book is spent either with Mara and the girls, Luke and the guys, or Luke and Mara alone. Alone, they worry together, because their marriage is being seen across the New Republic as a marriage of the Rebellion and the Empire, the healing of long-festering wounds. But they have passion together, passion that works incredibly; so well, in fact, that based on what we see here, nobody could say these two people don't belong together. They both have dreams of foreboding, and take it as nervousness over the wedding.  

Mara is taken in by the group of women led by Leia, and including a bunch of married folks like Iella, Mirax, possibly Winter, and Tionne, wife of Kam Solusar (when did that happen?). They all talk of how to enjoy marriage, joke about their men, and offer all kinds of advice to Mara. They take a spa treatment (drawn wonderfully, I might add -but the artists are men, so what can I say?), and beat a group of pilots at springball. They get fit for their dresses, and seem to have a lot of fun.

Of course, fun for the guys means getting into a brawl, right?  The bachelor party consists of Han, Lando, Wedge and the Rogues going to a bar where somebody picks a fight with Luke. They end the brawl, and then leave. When getting fitted for their suits (which looked amazing at the actual wedding), they trade banter back and forth, which made it feel just right.  Stackpole really knows how to write pilot banter, especially among the best of friends. C3P0 and R2D2 were well used, especially since their parts were kept short  -I loved C3P0 boring the newscasters so they would be forced to leave!

But there is a small plot against their lives by an ex-Imperial, who isn't too happy about the peace that was created in Vision of the Future. Once they come to Coruscant, one attacks Mara in the guise of an Imperial Royal Guard, while the others plan to attack the ceremony. I didn't like the way the wife of the ex-Moff so quickly found Mara's dressmaker -her logic was flawed.  

I did like the way the Rogues got some action by defending the wedding grounds from speeders and swoops. Even Chewie got some action in that part. When everybody except the leader is captured (in part because one of his agents turned them in), he disguises himself and threatens to tear the New Republic apart. I get really tired of hearing that threat, and it could have ruined the book, except that it was revealed that he was no threat at all -the New Republic had measures in place to prevent what he claimed he could do. So it turned out more funny than anything else. But his conversion at Luke's words was very strange, and I wonder if there could have been another way to do this. But it did show that Luke is tired of killing, and is ready to start accepting people for who they are.

So there it goes. I wonder if people are going to have a fit if they discover that Luke and Mara were already married by the time their ceremony took place on Coruscant. They were married in a Jedi ceremony at the Jedi Academy beforehand.  Both ceremonies were great, and the bride looked terrific in both cases.  

Aside from the few moments that kept me in doubt along the way, such as the Imperial stuff, mostly, this was a nice break from the complex battles and manipulations we've seen in the past Star Wars stories. It was so nice to see everybody relaxed and ready to have a celebration, with no worries about the future. Wonderfully touching, but not for those who want huge battles.

 
   

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