This is my ongoing exploration of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed where first I chronicled my playthrough of both games like a text-based Let’s Play. This time, however, I read through Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, both published by Marvel (originally published by Dark Horse).
Both graphic novels were written by the writer of the games, Haden Blackman which gives them both an air of authenticity, as far as the game canon goes if not the wider Star Wars universe. Taking art duties in the first book were Brian Ching, Bong Dazo, Wayne Nichols, and Michael Atiyeh, with letterer Michael Heisler. In the second, the art was by Omar Francia, Manuel Silva, and Diego Rodriguez, with letterer Michael Heisler returning.
The Force Unleashed starts with PROXY being repaired by Juno Eclipse after its battle with Darth Vader on Corellia. She wanted it to recount what it knew about Starkiller (the only name used for the character in these books) to Bail Organa, so a recounting of the history of the Rebellion could be a complete one. PROXY then details the events of the game up to its deactivation, where Juno picks things up. It glosses over things and ignores others, such as there being no mention of a Sarlac on the return to Felucia let alone using an elevator to go inside of it…
In all, it’s a good read and fills in a few gaps. For instance, after Darth Vader threw Starkiller out of a window, it took six months to “rebuild” him, as Vader put it. I had assumed it was a few weeks. Then, when looking for General Kota it took another six months, which didn’t come across in the game at all! Organa does bring up the question of how they tracked Kota to Bespin, and Juno basically says that it wasn’t easy and implies that Starkiller wasn’t above torturing people.
The Force Unleashed II takes a different approach, instead focusing on Boba Fett! He’s contacted after Clone Starkiller has made his escape, and while now and then we check in with the clone, for the most part it follows Fett. He finds the mostly dead giant Gorog (and kills it), though the creature is still in the arena rather than miles below it. He locates the Rebel ship Salvation through torture, and grabs Juno before taking her to Kamino. However, Vader won’t pay him until Clone Starkiller has been captured, so he does his best to facilitate that, but ultimately fails.
I had wondered why I didn’t get to fight Boba Fett after he’d kidnapped Juno, and the graphic novel explains that basically it’s because Kota stalled him. Vader promised a lucrative contract, so it’s not for lack of trying! Also, not all of the clones on Kamino were of Starkiller as I’d assumed, a bunch of them were of Boba Fett. No, not Jango Fett, Boba. I’m not quite sure what that added to the story, or whether it was feeding into something wider explored in the Dark Horse comics at the time, but hey.
Honestly, while the artwork in the second book was better, some scenes were a bit difficult to make out what was happening if you hadn’t played the games. The first book has too many weird faces that really take you out of it, though none of the art is bad. One good indicator of bad sequential art is when the artist doesn’t draw shoes, and there are plenty of shoes in both of these graphic novels.
Story-wise I enjoyed both, but if you’ve not played the games then the second graphic novel misses a lot of information. It’s much better as a companion, but the first book serves well as a complete alternative.
So, if you’re a fan of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and comic books, then you’ve probably already read these. If you’re just a Star Wars fan who hasn’t played the games, then you’ll get something out of them for sure. They’re available in physical and digital formats, so go with the one you prefer.
Join me next time (no I’m not done yet!) when I take a look at — well, it’s a surprise.