The community of Star Wars fans in the nonChinese-speaking part of the world owes Mr Nick Stember a huge round of applause for his translation of this bootleg illustrated novelized version of Star Wars IV that he discovered in China.
And even if it is in a different language it is easy to follow the story of Episode IV: A New Hope. Oh, wait…
Below, I’ve selected a representative sampling but after skimming these I suggest you visit the comic on his site and read the whole amazing thing. The italics in the captions are my comments. (And yes, I know that some of these are out of sequence but this post has taken me the better part of 2 hours so screw it.)
2.However, the fight against the Empire’s rule has has never ceased. In order to put down the rebels, the Empire’s ruler, Tarkin (Tajin 塔金), puts his supporter “The Dark-Robed Lord” Vader (Heiyi Xunjue Weide 黑衣勛爵維德) in command of a transuniversal carrier ship (Star Destroyer) to seek out and suppress rebellion on every planet.
5. It looks like Princess [Leia] won’t be able to escape from Vader’s clutches. Carrying secret marching orders, rebel leader Princess Leia immediately takes the robot R2 (Atu 阿圖) to a secret storeroom and, after pressing and turning certain parts on R2, faces him with urgent agitation and begins to speak.
12. The Imperial troops search the vessel thoroughly but they can’t find the information tapes. After putting up a strong resistance, Princess Leia is finally captured. When Princess Leia is brought before Vader she doesn’t show any fear, and instead spits contemptuously in his direction.
14. In the heat of the battle, R2 and C-3PO run this way and that, eventually sneaking into an (NASA Gemini capsule) escape pod. R2 presses a sequence of buttons [on the control panel] in front of the pilot’s seat and after a thunderous crash the escape pod carries them away from the wrecked spacecraft.
17.R2 and C-3PO split up and one heads into the mountains while the other heads into the dunes in search of civilization. Unfortunately they are both discovered by the Jawas (Jiawa 賈瓦) who look like people, but aren’t. Thinking they are abandoned trash, the Jawas put the robots into an enormous (ATV) sand crawler (shadi pache 沙地爬車).
20. “You guys clean yourselves up, and recharge your batteries, and don’t get into any trouble, you hear?” After Luke finishes talking to the two robots he walks toward a two-seated land-repelling kind of spacecraft (his Boeing 727 land speeder) parked in the hanger and prepares to repair the already damaged port-side wing.
29. Back at Ben’s groovy 70s pad Luke wants to see the entire message, and R2 tells him that if he removes his control bolt he can probably play back the contents of the entire message. But after removing the bolt, the image disappears and does not come back. It looks like R2 has been scheming to protect his secret.
31. Luke brings up leaving the farm again, but Owen still doesn’t nod his head. Once Luke leaves, Aunt Beru says, “Luke isn’t a farmer, we should let him go. He is too much like his father.” Owen says in a worried voice, “That’s just what I’m afraid of!”
34. In the strangely re-shaped land speeder Luke and C-3PO finally catch up with R2 near the Western Lake.
35. Standing next to the again re-shaped land speeder… Just as they are about to start blaming R2 [for running off], R2 suddenly jumps up and starts to make a mad symphony of whistling, sirens, and electronic alarm sounds; at the same time his chassis twists and turns. C-3PO also starts to look around nervously.
39. The WTF?!! Sand People of the Sand Planet are not organic lifeforms, but they are also not entirely mechanical either. They are strong and ferocious, and specialize in the shady business of murder and plunder. C-3PO steps back in shock, and discovers there is nothing there for him to stand on, and so he falls down the sand dune. Luke finds himself momentarily stunned.
42. It is precisely at this moment that a deep rumbling roar of anger echoes up the canyon. The Sand People immediately stop their plundering to look all around.
47. They ride the speeder to Ben Kenobi’s well-hidden 1970s styled cave. Ben Kenobi immediately begins to work on R2. After only a minute, R2 begins to project the 3D image of Princess Leia from the front of his chassis. Luke again finds himself attracted to her stunning beauty.
48. In a grave tone of voice Princess Leia tells Kenobi that the Alliance to resurrect the Republic is in dire straits. Leia received orders from her father—the viceroy of the planet Alderaan—to seek out [Obi Wan] and request that he meet with her father. She was able to complete her orders, however, and so she was forced to use this backup plan to contact him.
50. After the 3D image disappears, Luke asks in astonishment, “She called you a general, and said that you served the Republic, are you…” Kenobi says, “I am a Jedi Knight (Jiedi Qishi 傑迪騎士), just like your father. We were both old biker guards of the Republic, sworn to protect and serve.”
51. After a nice stiff shot of J&B Scotch Kenobi opens a box, looking for something, saying, “I’ve saved something from your father in here. He wanted me to give this to you once you were grown. I wanted to give it to you earlier, but your uncle wouldn’t let me. He doesn’t want you to follow the same path as your father.”
53. Luke asks how his father died. Kenobi says he was murdered by Vader. Originally Vader was biker Kenobi’s brightest disciple, but he ended up using the martial skills which he learned and his own extraordinary innate powers to ride a triceratops to help the Empire destroy virtually all of the Jedi.
62. Meanwhile, Princess Leia has been sent to the Empire’s newly built military base—an enormous man-made moon called the “Death Star.” Tarkin and Vader employ a variety of ruses to force Leia to reveal the location of the Rebel base, but they are all unsuccessful. (the comic skips over the destruction of Alderaan)
66. Just as predicted, soon after the (B-50) vessel enters hyper-speed they shake the five Imperial warships.
67. During their flight, Kenobi teaches the way of the light saber to Luke. In order to get revenge and oppose the Empire, Luke immerses himself in training and quickly masters the art of the light saber.
71. Solo tails the Imperial battleship (!?!), which is flying towards a moon which grows ever brighter, with light appearing to be produced from within. Solo admits that Empire must have a base here after all, despite the fact that on the star map Alderaan doesn’t have any moons.
81. The scanning technicians have only just entered the ship when a loud roar sounds from inside, causing the two guards to run inside as well. But as soon as they enter, the ape-man Chewbacca (!?!?) with Luke and the others make short work of them.
93. The officer says that nobody notified him, and turns to consult his instrument panel. After a quick glance at Luke, Solo unlocks Chewbacca’s manacles and says something to him under his breath. Straight away, Chewbacca roars and grabs Solo’s gun.
75. Meanwhile, in the meeting room of the Death Star (at the fucking Kennedy Space Center!), Vader is staring fixedly at star map. Fascinatingly enough, even after the largest device of mass destruction ever—the “Death Star”—destroyed the planet Alderaan, this star map looks the same as always. Indeed, it is only after careful inspection that it becomes apparent that a tiny dot is missing [from the map].
80. At the same time, two members of the scanning team have arrived at the entrance of the ship and report to the two soldiers standing guard. The guards want them to report the results of their scan immediately, and the two [technicians] nod, lugging their heavy [scanning] equipment up the stairs and onto the (F-4 Phantom-zed Millenium Falcon) ship.
82. In a small control room near the spacecraft, a officer in charge of the tow tractors [for the docking bay] discovers that the guards are missing and calls out over the radio, “THX-1138, why have you left your station?” Just NO.
98. Donning her Supergirl outfit Princess Leia takes Luke’s gun and blasts open a small grate in the metal wall, leading everyone into the garbage chute.
96. Luke uses his laser gun to blast open the door of [Leia’s] cell. He takes off his helmet and says to the stunned Princess Leia, “I’ve come with Ben Kenobi to rescue you—we found your two robots.” Princess Leia sighs happily in her chains.
108. Luke the others take advantage of the fact that the guards defending the (WTF!? That’s supposed to be the Millennium Falcon) space craft are distracted by Kenobi and Vader’s fight to quickly make their way to the craft.
109. Kenobi looks back [to look at the ship] and Vader takes advantage of the opportunity to bring down his lightsaber. Lamentably, it is in this way Kenobi sacrifices himself.
110. When Luke sees Kenobi get cut down he wants to rush over and revenge him, but Princess Leia holds him back, saying, “This isn’t what Kenobi wanted for you. We’ll have a chance [to get revenge] later. What we need to do now is leave here right away!” Only after hearing this can Luke be convinced to board the space craft.
112. Despite the enemy’s [best efforts to] intercept and attack their space craft, they manage to shake them, swiftly arriving at the secret [Rebel] base (at Teotihuacan) on the fourth moon of the faraway planet of Yavin (Yawen 亞文).
117. Based on this information, the Rebels quickly develop a plan of attack and put it into action immediately, hoping to destroy the “Death Star” before it destroys them. Solo and his partner Chewbacca can’t be bothered about any of this, however, having already received a generous reward which they are busily loading into their safe.
111. The vessel rises quickly into the air. Luke sits down, despondent over Kenobi’s death. Princess watches him silently for a time, and then takes off her cloak and drapes it softly over Luke’s shoulders.
120. The F-104 X-wing fighters take to the air. Luke belongs to Blue Squadron (lanse zhongdui 藍色中隊) which is tasked with defending Red Squadron during their attack on the Death Star exhaust vent, and, if necessary, step in to take their place.
125. Vader orders all of his fighters (the flat thing with 2 lasers is a TIE fighter, I guess) out to meet the attack, the two sides pitching into a fierce battle to the death. Luke destroys two enemy ships, but his own ship is damaged in the process. Agitated, he tells R2 to begin repairs.
126. Meanwhile, Red Leader (hongse zhongdui zhang 紅色中隊長) has led two ships into a long trench full of cables where they plan to attack the exhaust vent.
129. The three (F-18 X-wing) ships on Red Squadron find themselves in dire straits, and are soon completely destroyed.
128. Suddenly, three enemy ships (2 TIEs and the USS Missouri) appear behind them, led by Vader himself. The three Red Squadron ships are forced deeper into the trench. In such narrow circumstances, there is simply no way for them to use their formidable [flying] skills to full effect.
131. Blue Squadron immediately replaces Red Squadron, with [Blue] Leader personally leading the first flight, and Luke leading the second flight as backup. Ultimately, the responsibility to destroy the Graf Zeppelin/Death Star falls to Luke’s flight.
132. Luke’s two squadron-mates soon sacrifice themselves along with their fighters. Tears streaming down his face, Luke is filled with determination to revenge Uncle Owen, Aunt Beru, Kenobi, and his squadron-mates.
133. Vader commands the two (TIE?) craft escorting him to follow Luke. He is only moments away from certain death when one of the vessels explodes in a ball of fire. The crew of the other vessel looks around in fright for the source of the attack only to find themselves likewise engulfed in flames only seconds later.
134. A (F-104) space craft appears above the trench, swooping down to attack to attack Vader’s fighter. Vader is completely unprepared, and his ship receives a direct hit. Losing control of the vessel, Vader and his craft spiral out into the endless expanse of space.
135. “I’ve cleared the way, Luke old buddy. Now go blow up the damn thing so we can all go home!” Upon hearing Solo’s voice, Luke looks up through the Honda Civic’s sunroof at Solo’s space craft and smiles.
138. The Death Star explodes! It sends out a flash that is brighter than the stars in the distance, so bright that it is difficult to look at directly. A split second later, the air is filled with a hundred million shards of metal, a fitting memorial to the Empire.
140. Princess Leia comes forward to welcome them. She (creepily, knowing what we know) falls into Luke’s arms, hugging him tightly and only then turning to Solo. Likewise, C3PO welcomes R2 back and the Rebel base is filled with joy.
142. Luke feels as if his entire heart and soul have come under the sway of the Princess. Noticing his unrestrained gaze, she smiles incestuously.
Nick Stember [http://stemtostem.com] is a Chinese to English translator of Chinese comics /manhua/ and speculative fiction. His work has been featured on the websites of The Comics Journal, Paper Republic, Danwei, Frog in a Well, FluentU, Optical Sloth, Tor, Boing Boing, iO9, Rolling Stone, the BBC World Service, and the South China Morning Post. He has worked as a consultant for Stone Bridge Press, Storycom, and Books from Taiwan.
Currently a Masters student in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, Nick lives in Vancouver, BC. In 2013 he spent 3 months living in Blaine, WA, commuting across the border on a 10-speed bicycle.
This blog is part of a larger project to build the world’s first English language encyclopedia of Chinese comics and animation, the Encyclopædia Manhuannica 漫畫百科. Along with his wife, Ding, Nick also does freelance translation and graphic design.