Darths & Droids
Ongoing, 2007 – present
Updates Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday
It goes without saying that Star Wars is hands down one of the best known and most revisited film series in popular culture. Similar to the various sci-fi adventure fiction it drew from, Star Wars has gone on to not only all of modern speculative fiction and how it’s viewed but also has been thickly ingrained within the imaginations within three, going on four, whole generations of film goers. At this point in time, R2-D2 and Darth Vader are as iconic as Superman or Elvis Presley. The films have been examined and re-examined so that everything from minute plot holes to over-arching themes have been drawn out and analyzed.
As such, it’s why Star Wars loans itself so well to the humor style of the regular web comic, Darths & Droids. The set up and story is about as simple as simple gets. The comic is the entirety of Star Wars played out as a tabletop role playing game. That is to say the major characters in the films are actually the player characters of a group of unseen players. The characters in story (initially) act and behave similar to their cinematic counterparts however the characterization and motivation is little more than a bunch of nerds rolling funky shaped dice and having a fun time. This isn’t an uncommon genre as many web comics share it, most notably the series DM of the Rings. However thanks to Star Wars being such a massive cross generational force, it plays out much better than the rest of the lot. The audience already knows what these characters are meant to do and say, and watching pull off feats only possible with the contradictory logic of a paper and pen RPG is what turns it into such a riot.
The series begins with Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace with a nameless Game Master who has planned an epic sweeping plot which immediately gets ruined by Jim (playing Qui-Gon Jinn) trying to steal everything not nailed down in the middle of a conference room and the well-meaning Ben (playing Obi-Wan Kenobi). From there on the pickup other players who fill out the cast: the “hard core” gamer Pete, Ben’s little sister Sally, and the serious role-player Alice, who embark on their constant misadventures and mistaken heroics. Chances are if one’s familiar with table top gaming or has even played a single game of Dungeons & Dragons, the characters and their play styles will undoubtedly draw up familiar real world examples. Thankfully that’s not where Darths & Droids stops as it develops its players as their relationships change and as they grow with time. They experience puberty, budding love, failed aspirations, new friendships, and introspection. Even some light world building takes place as the group inhabits a universe where Star Wars never existed as a multi-media franchise. There’s also some humos and insightful comments to be found below each page which provide useful information on roleplaying and extra details to the story.
Darths and Droids might not be the most original concept but its execution certainly is. A comic like this could have easily sailed by just sticking to formula and make easy punch Star Wars jokes. Instead what can be found is a funny, smart, and frustrating comic that gives a major effort, and it shows.