Remember those really cool (but sometimes tacky) What If comics series from Marvel? Yeah, me too – I loved “˜em. I was a huge fan of the concept of exploring alternative outcomes in a universe in which a single choice can change fate and destiny. Well, my fellow geeks, that’s where the concept of Star Wars Infinities comes in, as far as the Star Wars Expanded Universe is concerned.
Back when Infinities was first released, I can recall some of the uncompromising purists among the Star Wars geeks being infuriated at the mere thought of proposing a continuity that was alternate to the three movies of the Original Trilogy. Some were critical because, to them, they felt it "reduced" the saga for them.
How wrong they were!
The three story arcs of Star Wars Infinities turned out to be quite popular, especially among the EU enthusiasts – and not so much for the alternate paths of events depicted, but instead chiefly for the reason that many of the moments in the Star Wars are made up of singular choices that would, if taken any other road than shown, change the entire path of the galaxy.
Take as a case in point, the gunners in the Star Destroyer who choose not to fire on the escape pod with the droids in A New Hope. How might have events panned out if they did destroy the pod? Or how about Han Solo deciding to stick with Leia in The Empire Strikes Back, rather than heading back to repay Jabba the Hutt as initially intended? Or what would the outcome be if Luke had chosen to stay on Dagobah across Episodes V and VI as opposed to rushing off to make a mess of things on Cloud City?
Each of these examples highlights that then entire series would have ended up completely differently if different choices were made. It’s a cornerstone element of the Star Wars saga, and is present within the confines of the Prequel Trilogy as well.
In the Star Wars Omnibus of Infinities, we have three adventures that take a "What If" glimpse at each installment of the Original Trilogy. For the section of Episode IV, we examine what would have happened across the trilogy if Luke’s torpedo had not destroyed the Death Star. Episode V eyes the outcome of Han Solo unable to rescue Luke after his tangle with the Wampa on Hoth. And the final chapter on Episode VI examines what would have followed if Leia’s thermal detonator had obliterated Jabba’s Palace before Luke arrives.
Throughout the Omnibus, the writing is fairly solid, with A New Hope being the strongest of all three. The first chapter, while shaky at first, follows through to a strong and exciting conclusion that still stays close to the foundations of the Original Trilogy, with much care paid to the relationships between our heroes. The artwork in A New Hope is as solid as its narrative, with much care taken to dedicate a fine balance between the likenesses of characters and places with the mood of the setting. The colors pop where needed, and complement the outlines and writing meticulously.
The Infinities of The Empire Strikes Back is less sturdy than its preceding chapter, though it is interesting following Leia’s passage to becoming a Jedi as opposed to Luke; with a wonderful cameo from much-loved EU comic character Villie in one spot. The art in Empire, however, is a little less unifying. While the pencils and inks are excellent, the colors feel off in most places, particularly with Dagobah SCREAMING as a colorful swamp rather than dank and dim.
The final chapter takes more creative liberties than the first two episodes, but the uttermost achievement of the Return of the Jedi Infinities installment is in its conclusion, and what ultimately happens to one of the main characters of the series may be surprising to some! Return of the Jedi is a little more of a return to form, but the artwork doesn’t truly pay off until the conclusion of the story, with the emergence of that surprising character’s “new” costume.
The colors function well in the third installment, though the penciling and inking fall flat, with many of the likenesses falling into disproportionate renderings. Leia is perhaps the best rendered character across all three episodes, and while the early portion of Jedi shows some flawless likeness with her appearance, the disproportions become more apparent and rushed as the story progresses.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Star Wars Infinites, and lot of it is in my veneration towards those who think out the "What If" scenarios in the universe. However, I have often wondered why Dark Horse never continued with versions of the Prequels. Revenge of the Sith, in particular, possesses the most potential: what if Anakin chose NOT to turn to the dark side?
How would the era of the Original Trilogy pan out? It’s such a fertile ground for exploring the alternate paths that could have been chosen from Episode III and beyond. Some of us are still waiting, Dark Horse! Bring it on!
My hopeless wishing aside, the collection of Infinities is a must-have for hardcore Star Wars fans. It’s an entertaining read, and has high entertainment value when you revisit them. It also encourages the imagination, making you wonder and ponder of the possible outcomes of OTHER alternative choices from the movies as well. Sci-Fi fans will definitely want to have a look at Infinities if they have not seen them before; and the casual comic fan interested in Marvel’s What If series and DC’s Elseworlds series will find this collection to be an absolute delight.
It’s a damn worthy read but also a hell of a lot of fun. And Dark Horse? Bring on those Prequel Trilogy Infinities. We’re still waiting!