I was privy to reading a Star Wars manga that focused on different perspectives of the original Star Wars in regards to not only how the movies went but adding some ideas from the expanded universe as well. Tales of Luke Skywalker is filled with short stories of varying degrees of quality that focus on the everyday beings of the Star Wars Universe. The perspective is refreshing in that it’s not any of the main Star Wars characters sharing their story but many background characters who would have been extras in the original trilogy. The manga is written and drawn by Japanese creatives in order to make it a true manga.
“The Starship Graveyard”
This first story is the weakest in the manga. Written by Akira Fukaya and Takashi Kisaki, the story sees an Imperial gunner crash land on a planet with Luke Skywalker as his only savior. The story is the longest of the manga and highlights how the gunner’s opinions of Luke Skywalker change over time. Luke’s identity remains hidden to the gunner throughout the story until the end. As such, much of the story is the Imperial gunner complaining about how Luke Skywalker and the Rebels are evil and the empire is far superior. These chants become tiresome after a while which lessens the entertainment value. It also, in my opinion, has the weakest art direction of the four stories. Thankfully the stories get better from her.
The second story, “I Droid,” written by Haruichi, focuses on a maintenance droid turned security droid. Thematically, the story deals with giving machines a soul. It is the shortest of the four, but that works to its advantage. The story quickly shows droid abuse and slavery with robots performing grueling work in an acidic mine for a valuable resource. This story provides entertainment with action between the droids revolting and a cameo from R2-D2 – a mainstay of the Star Wars movies. However, what makes the story even better is its “ghost in the machine” concept by showing the array of emotions and thoughts that the droids go through.
“The Tale of the Lugubrious Mote”
The third story, written by Subaru, is absolutely hilarious. The story is the most aligned with the original trilogy of movies. At the same time, it takes the perspective of a tiny mote who helps Leia and Luke Skywalker while they’re in Jabba the Hutt’s palace. For Leia, the tiny mote is a source of companionship during her time in service to Jabba. As for Luke, he thinks it is the force compelling him to fight and agrees with the mote’s assistance absent-mindedly. The style of the artwork reminds me of Pokemon at times and it is the most lighthearted of the four stories. Overall, I enjoyed this story the most and it had an air of humor to go along with several tense scenes from the movie.
Written by Akira Himekawa, this story has some of the best artwork of all four tales. The art style is a mature take that looks like a seinen(mature male) or josei (mature female) manga title. The story is one of awe and exploration as Luke and a scientist end up in the belly of a huge space worm. As the characters navigate the labyrinth of the worm they find relics, ruins and various flora and fauna. The worm has its own biosphere and the two characters put an emphasis on exploring the ancient civilizations found in the worm. The ending is a little murky with a deus ex machina from a lost culture found in the beast, but it gives the largest sense of wonder about space from the four stories.
Overall, I enjoyed the manga. The first tale is fairly skippable, but the other three offer entertainment, a sense of awe and excitement that Star Wars was originally known for. The manga isn’t long either at about 200 pages for a quick read. If you are a Star Wars fan you’ll enjoy a different take on the universe, but if you’re not a Star Wars you might like it even more due to it being a low stakes introduction to some facets of the universe.