Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars Infinities - The Empire Strikes BackSummary: Take the events and characters from one of the classic Star Wars films, throw in one happenstance, mishap, or technical glitch beyond the characters’ control, and watch how that changes everything. In Dark Horse’s first foray into Infinities (A New Hope), Luke Skywalker’s valiant torpedo attack on the Death Star failed due to a faulty detonator — an event no one could have foreseen — and the Rebellion was dealt a debilitating setback. In Infinities — The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo’s desperate attempt to locate his friend Luke in the icy wastes of the planet Hoth is thwarted when the tauntaun he’s riding succumbs to the cold while Han is still a mile from Luke’s location. Han arrives too late, barely in time to hear Luke’s dying words about Jedi training and the planet Dagobah…

Thus begins an adventure far different than the one seen in the motion picture. Along the way, a famous bounty hunter is frozen in carbonite, Han and Chewie are captured on Tatooine by Jabba the Hutt, and Princess Leia and Yoda have a fateful jungle showdown with Darth Vader! Collecting the four-issue miniseries.

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Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back, by Dave Land and Davidé Fabbri 7.5

After reading the first volume of ‘Star Wars Infinities’, I was left with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the concept is AMAZEBALLS: changing a key moment in the Star Wars universe and then exploring what transpires from that point onward, exploring a “what if” scenario? Brilliant! But the dialogues seemed ill-fitting and some ideas weren’t fully fleshed out.

Still, I was very much looking forward to reading the second volume, being based on my favourite film of the trilogy!

Unlike the first one, which takes over at the end of ‘Star Wars’, ‘Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back’ jumps in at the beginning of ‘The Empire Strikes Back‘ to change Luke’s fate: in this alternate version of the tale, Han’s tauntaun dies earlier, leaving Luke to succumb from his injuries in the snow. This leaves Leia and Han to walk in his steps from there.

Woah, woah… wait a minute? Luke DIES?

Yes.

This is the Star Wars universe unfolding without his influence.

What’s interesting about this book is that many aspects of the original movie return for this iteration, but in a reshaped form: Han and Leia still go through the asteroid field, but they go to Cloud City much earlier. They also leave earlier. Dagobah features prominently as well, but Luke doesn’t receive training. There is, after all, another. As Vader will learn.

From the onset, I sat there incredulous: Han takes from Luke the message that he should go to Dagobah to train as a Jedi Knight, which left me wondering if the Force would be strong enough with this one to warrant training. It was a disaster in the making, and I hoped that the writer knew this. He did. But, for a large part of the book, I was reading with some remove.

Thankfully, Dave Land seemed to have a better grasp of the characters than his predecessor: the dialogues in no way bothered or disappointed me, and I liked the direction they took – with the exception of Han believing he’d be trained as a Jedi. It seems foolish coming from an unbeliever. Fabbri’s artwork was also more consistent than his predecessor and he turned in a slick book.

My biggest issue was the ease of Han’s escape from Jabba’s palace: As if he would survive the pit, that R2 would left to his own devices, that there wouldn’t be a greater safeguard against the escape of the wild animals, that a ship would be waiting for Han and company outside the palace, that its sole occupant would rush away at Han’s suggestion and that ALL of them would escape.

And why would Vader not raze Jabba’s palace as he did with Cloud City?

Oops. Spoiler alert.

All told, though, this was a pleasant read, if a bit actiony for my taste – more so than the original. I breezed through it twice, and I must say that I enjoyed it more the second time, my incredulity having dissipated after the first read. It doesn’t pack the punch of the original, but it’s an excellent alternate take on the tale, and I would certainly recommend it to any fan of the series.

And now to see what has been done to ‘Return of the Jedi’.

Could they have killed off all the Ewoks?

One can only hope…

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