Published: July 14, 2021
Adapted by: Alessandro Ferrari
Character Studies: Igor Chimisso
Layout & Ink: Matteo Piana
Clean up & Ink: Andrea Parisi
Paint (Background & Settings): Davide Turotti
Paint (Characters): Kawaii Creative Studio
Cover Artist: Chryssy Cheung
Peace reigns in the Galaxy, guarded by the thousand-years-old Jedi Order. But dark forces plot in the shadows to restore the power of the Sith, long believed gone. Unaware of this evil plan, two Jedi Knights rescue Queen Amidala of Naboo and discover a young boy who could forever change the fate of the universe.
Capturing the galaxy-spanning action of The Phantom Menace, experience Episode I as a beautiful graphic novel combining the epic wonder of Star Wars with streamlined, young-reader friendly designs. This all-ages graphic novel is a must-read for longtime fans and a great introduction for young newcomers!
When it comes to The Phantom Menace there are a lot of good movie posters, some of which are still completely iconic today, but it’s good to see the original being used here, with a young Anakin Skywalker taking centre stage whilst the glowing Sith yellow eyes of Darth Maul penetrates from the background. Cryssy Cheung’s signature style gives a fresh take on each character, but the cheeky, smiling Jar Jar Binks in one corner is a highlight.
One of the hardest parts of adapting The Phantom Menace, whether into a novel or a graphic novel, is the action sequences. The original movie was action packed and there’s not enough space for it all. Including it all can also become tedious to read without the visual effects and music that a movie can integrate. So, Ferrari has focused this adaptation on Anakin and Padmé, which makes sense as these are the characters that younger readers will gravitate to.
While this is a great choice it does mean that there are parts missing from this adaptation in order for it to all fit. The Boonta Eve classic pod-race is cut down to only four pages, even though it takes over fifteen minutes of the run time in the film. Similarly, Qui Gon’s duel with Darth Maul is shortened, removing the iconic standoff where the Jedi Master patiently waits behind the energy-shield. This is not a criticism of the adaptation, but for fans who know the film, then these missing story beats are quite obvious.
What is important though is that Anakin and Padmé’s struggles are always at the forefront. Ferrari still includes the messy politics that Padmé has to navigate, emphasising her worry and selflessness towards protecting her people. The scenes between her and Jar Jar are particularly poignant, as the young queen begins to foster a friendship with a people she had previously overlooked. Anakin’s zeal is so heartwarming to read as he helps the Jedi and the Naboo. Whilst most of his snappy quick responses are present in the speech bubbles, such as “I’m a person. And my name is Anakin,” unfortunately “Now this is pod-racing” hasn’t been included in his dialogue.
Bringing these characters to life is the amazing artwork by Chimisso. For fans who have read the other IDW adaptations, then they will recognise the slightly caricatured artwork, which really puts emphasis on the eyes and faces of every character. It really works well for Padmé and Anakin, emphasising their youthfulness, and the details on Padmé’s ostentatious wardrobe are amazing. Yoda is also so expressive, stealing the few scenes he’s briefly in. Chimisso has drawn so many different expressions, helping to carry the story even when there’s no dialogue. It’s also exciting to see how he’s changed the angle or composition of some scenes, which makes this story refreshingly different from the film.
Not to mention all the battle droids! The Battle of Naboo looks amazing in the comic panels, with rows upon rows of the droids – not that they’re any less destructible on page than in the film. Fans of all ages will enjoy this artwork, only made more cinematic by Turotti’s detailed backgrounds.
While fans have had many adaptations for The Phantom Menace, this one by IDW is still the perfect comic book fix. Young readers will plough through the story, which is fast paced, flitting from location to location, interspersed with thrilling action. Meanwhile older readers might take their time to dissect the politics and morals behind the story. Alessandro Ferrari, Igor Chimisso, Davide Turotti and the rest of the team at IDW have gone back to the beginning with this Star Wars graphic novel and the choice of quote at the back “He is the Chosen One, you must see it” is the Qui Gon wisdom all readers should try and channel.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace – Graphic Novel Adaptation was published July 14, 2021 by IDW Publishing. This comic is available from all good comic book stores in the USA and from Forbidden Planet in the UK. This issue retails at $7.99.
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