Star Wars 3 – That’s no moon

sw3

So, there’s been a bit of a longer break over the Summer, but here we are back with some more Star Wars goodness, before we had back into the MU proper.

Synopsis

The issue begins with a view of Alderaan from the bridge of the Death Star.  Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader are present, as is a visibly concerned Princess Leia. After much thought, Leia reluctantly gives up Dantooine as the location of the rebel base. However, despite this revelation, Tarkin orders the destruction of Alderaan to go ahead. With a massive explosion, what was once a planet full of people is no more. Tarkin then informs Leia that the rebels will be next.

Meanwhile, aboard the Millenium Falcon, Ben Kenobi shudders in pain and takes a seat.Ben explains that he felt a “great ebbing in the forcelike the cry of a billion beings – stopping all at once!” At this point, Han appears to inform everyone that they have managed to shake of the Imperial starships that were following them. But he doesn’t get the enthusiastic response he was expecting. He then turns to R2-D2 and Chewbacca, who are engaged in a game of holochess. R2 appears to be winning, much to Chewie’s anger. He swipes the board, sending the pieces flying. C-3PO initially tries to intervene, but Han suggests he thinks twice, as “wookies have been known to [rip people’s arms out of their sockets]“. 3PO considers this momentarily, then turns to R2 and declares, “I suggest a new strategy Artoo, let the Wookie win!

Luke is conentrating on a hovering spherical ball, holding his new light-sabre. Ben suggests he continues his training, after which the “remote” starts to fly about shooting at Luke.  He fails to deflect any of the shots using the light-sabre. Ben then suggests he covers his eyes with a mask and tries again, this time feeling “the force flowing from him“. Luke then, amazingly, manages to block the remote’s shots whilst blindfolded.

Han interrupts the suggestion, suggesting that “hocus-pocus religions and ancient weapons are no substitute for a good blaster“. Ben tells Luke to ignore him, before Han announces that they are approaching Alderaan.  However, there is no planet in sight, just flying debris. The crew are confused as to why there is no planet on their screens, when Han spots a TIE-Fighter flying away.  But there is no Imperial base nerby? They decide to follow it. After a while, they notice it is heading for what appears to be a small moon. Ben disagrees, “That’s no moon, Mr. Solo, it’s a space station“.

The space station continues to grow impossibly in size on their screen, leading 3PO to state, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this“. They decide to turn away, but before they can, they are caught by the tractor beam of the station. With his choices diminishing by the second, Han prepares himself for battle.  But Ben reminds him that there are always alternatives to fighting.

We then switch back to the Death Star. Tarking and Vader receive news that a scout ship has found evidence of a rebel base on Dantooine, but that it has been deserted for some time. Vader and Tarkin debate whether they should keep Leia alive. Tarkin still believes he can get the location from Leia. Vader then informs Tarkin that they have captured the Corellian fighter that hey saw fleeing Mos Eisley.

On board the Falcon, the crew are in once of Han’s smuggling hideaways. The party of stormtroopers find no evidence of them, and so leave the Falcon. This lets the crew emerge and they debate what to do next. They realise they need to deactivate the tractor beam and Ben volunteers for this. Han calls him a “damn fool” and Ben responds dryly, “who is the more foolish, the foll or the man who follows him?

The stormtroopers return with scanning equipment. One of the troopers indicates he has a bad transmitter, and the office goes to investigate. He is soon met by the mountainous Chewbacca. They overpower the stormtroopers and Han and Luke both don the stormtroopers armour. R2 plugs into a computer terminal and informs Ben where the tractor beam is coupled to the main reactor. Ben says he needs to go alone to complete this mission. Luke wants to go with Ben, but Han is happy to stay behind. R2 then announces (via 3PO’s translation) that Princess Leia is on board. Luke says they should go and rescure her, whilst Han confusedly asks who she is. Han is unmoved by Luke’s pleas to rescue her, until Luke casually throws in that “she’s rich“. Han is tempted and then asks Luke for his plan. Luke approaches Chewie, who reacts angrily. Han then realises what he has in mind and reassures Chewie. Han and Lukje then both put on their stromtrooper helmets and walk alongside Chewie, as if he is their prisoner.

They approach the location where Princess Leia is being held. An officer angrily informs them that  he was not notified of any prisoner transfer. As he investigates, Chewie lashes out they all manage to take out the the stormtroopers on the deck. In doing so, they also manage to destroy all the equipment at the terminals, with Luke impressing Han with his blaster skills. Han tells Luke to go and find the Princess, whilst he tries to deal with the messages coming in over the speakers. Unable to do so, Han then fires at the speaking, declaring it “a boring conversation, anyway“.

Luke meanwhile, find the cell where Leia is being held. He blasts it open and finds Leia inside. Luke stammers, “y-you’re even more beautiful than I…”, but cannot finish his sentence as Leia retorts disinterestedly, “aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” Luke then remembers he is dressed as a stormtrooper and takes hi helmet off. He then tells Leia, “I’ve come to rescue you! Ben Kenobi is with me!” This captures Leia’s interest. They run out and meet with Han and Chewie, but there are more stormtroopers blocking their way out. This does not impress Leia, and Han is even less impressed with Leia’s displeasure. How will they escape? Find out in issue 4 soon!

Comment

Another great issue, with wonderful Chaykin artwork and more one-liners perfectly captured by Roy Thomas. The scene is beautifully set for some momentous battles, now that all the moving parts have come together on the Death Star. You also really get a feel for Han’s character in this issue, along with Luke’s naiveness.

Details

Writer – Roy Thomas

Artist – Howard Chaykin

Cover date – September 1977

Financials

Cover Price – 30c

At the time of writing, the most expensive listing for this issue on eBay is a seemingly bargain price of £14.99. Get it now!

Coming next

Fantastic Four 6

Strange Tales 101

Journey into Mystery 85

ComicRetrospective 2016

@comicretrospect

Star Wars 2

star wars 2

It’s time to revisit that galaxy far, far away. We take another detour from superheroes to look at issue 2 of the 1977 Star Wars series by Marvel. We last left Luke, C-3PO and R2-D2 in the deserts of Tatooine, about to be attacked by the Sandpeople. The next installment is called “Six against the Galaxy”.

Synopsis

The issue opens with the sandpeople triumphant over a fallen Luke Skywalker. But their celebrations are cut short, when a figure approaches them. The sandpeople flee as if they have seen a monster, but R2 knows better. The figure is an elderly man, and none other than Ben Kenobi.

Ben asks Luke what brings him out so far into the desert, and Luke explains that R2 claims to be the property of “Obi-Wan Kenobi“. Ben responds by saying, “Obi-Wan?! Now that is a name I haven’t heard in a long while“. Luke adds that his uncle thinks Obi-Wan may be dead. Ben responds that this cannot be, as he is Obi-Wan! Nut he cannot ever remember owning R2. It’s only then that Luke remembers that 3PO had also accompanies him.

Luke soons finds a “dented and tangled” 3PO nearby, with one arm broken off. 3PO cannot recall what happened, but Ben cuts him off when he hears movement. It’s time for them to move.

They make their way back to Ben’s “homely hovel“, and R2 plays the full message for Ben. Luke finds the woman “terrific” and also notices that she refers to Ben as “General“. Ben then explains that he fought in the Clone Wars and was a Jedi Knight, just like Luke’s father. Ben sees from Luke’s surprise at this that Luke’s uncle has never told him the full truth about his father.

Ben then remembers that he has something for Luke, from his father. It is his lightsabre, the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Luke asks how hos father dies, and Ben explains that “he was betrayed and murdered bu a young Jedi named Darth Vader“.

Ben further explains to Luke about the power of the “force” and how it was this power that Darth Vader used to kill his father, and hunt down all the remaining Jedi. Ben tells Luke that he must learn the ways of the force, and he will teach him, if Luke accompanies him to Alderaan. Luke quickly replies that he cannot go to Alderaan, but Ben says that “he is getting too old for this sort of thing“. Luke says that he will take Ben as far as Anchorhead.

In a brief interlude, we see Darth Vader enter the cell of the woman he captured, and asks her to tell him “the location of the hidden rebel base“. The cell door then closes and we her the woman scream.

Back on Tatooine, Luke is taking Ben to the Anchorhead in his land-speeder. On the way they spot the sandcrawler of the jawas, who sold the droids to Luke’s uncle. Or what’s left of the sandcrawler as smoke billows out of it. All the Jawas have been killed, and Luke thinks it is the work of the sandpeople, although he has never know them to hit anything so big before.

Ben explains to Luke that the sandpeople didn’t attack the Jawas, but we are supposed to think they did. Ben points to scorch marks and comments that only Imperial Stormtroopers are this precise. Luke then realises that the Stortroopers were looking for the droids, and if they managed to track them to here, their next stop will be … “home!“.

Luke rushes off in his land-speeder, leaving Ben and the droids behind. He soon spots black smoke rising from his home and shouts out “Aunt Beru…Uncle Ben“. Quick note here, this is what is said in the comic, but it should of course read “Uncle Owen“. He gets no response and then he sees, laying on the ground, “two smouldering piles which once had been human beings…“.

Back aboard the spaceship, we see Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin standing side by side in discussion. It is explained that Tarkin is the “regional governor of this portion of space“. It is explained to the two men that “all systems are operational” and that they now need to decide on a course. Vader explains that he has yet to extract the whereabouts of the rebel base from the prisoner. Tarkin suggests that “Princess Leia” may be susceptible to another form of persuasion, and suggests they set course for Alderaan.

On Tatooine, Luke returns to Ben and the droids. Ben expresses his grief but also explains that the force is with him, as if he had been with his uncle and aunt, he would also be dead and the droids would now be in the hands of the Empire. Luke replies by saying he wants to go with Ben to Alderaan. There is nothing left for him on Tatooine and he wants Ben to teach him the ways of the force to become a Jedi, like his father.

They continue on Luke’s land-speeder to the Mos-Eisley Spaceport. Ben explains to Luke that he will “not find a more wretched hive of villainy!“. Some stormtroopers approach them and begin to question them about their droid passengers. But Ben responds in a “strangely controlled voice” that Luke doesn’t need to show his registration, he can go on about his business and that “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for“.  After each itterance, the stormtroopers repeat Ben’s exact words, as if in a trance. Ben then explains to Luke that the force is a powerful ally.

They enter a cantina and Luke queries the chances of them finding a pilot who can take them to Alderaan in there.  Ben explains that many good pilots frequent the cantina, but it can get rough. It doesn’t take long for Luke to find out for himself. Two patrons, a tall alien and a human want to pick a fight with Luke. Ben intervenes, but they push Luke over. Ben instantly turns on his lightsabre and sends the pair scrambling into different sections of the cantina floor.

Ben switches off his lightsabre and appears to relax again, Ben then introduces Luke to a tall hairy looking creature called Chewbacca, a Wookie.Luke has heard abaout Wookies but never seen one before. Ben then explains that Chewbacca is first mate on a ship that might suit their needs. The droids have been left outside the cantina and they notice a patron come out and talk to two stormtroopers. This causes 3PO to say “I don’t like the looks of this Artoo“.

Back inside, Chewbacca leads Ben and Luke to a secluded corner where a man is sitting at the table. He says, “you’re pretty handy with the sabre, old man. I’m Han Solo, captain of the Millenium Falcon“. Ben asks the man if the ship is fast. Han responds incredulously, “fast ship? You mean you’ve never heard of the Millenium Falcon? It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 Par-Secs!“. Han asks what the cargo will be, and Ben explains it is just himself, Luke, two droids and no questions. Han asks if they are in any trouble, and Ben explains that they want to avoid any Imperial Troopers. Han says it will cost 10,000 in advance.

Luke balks at the cost, and says they could buy their own ship for that much. Han sardonically asks who would fly it? Luke responds that he could. Ben cools Luke down and says he can pay 2,000 now and 15,000 on reaching Alderaan. They agree and Han tells them to meet him in docking bay 94. At that point the two stormtroopers from outside come into the cantina and ask the bar man something. He responds by pointing to the corner table, but there are only two people there, Chewbacca and Han Solo.

Outside, Ben tells Luke that he will have to sell his land-speeder. Luke is fine with his as he doesn think he will ever come back to this planet anyway. Back inside, the stormtroopers have moved on and Han is just about to get up from the table when he hears someone address him. “Going somewhere Solo?” Han sits back down and responds by saying he was going to visit the green alien’s boss, Jabba. The alien is not impressed, having clearly heard this before. The alien asks for the money now and Han explains he doesn’t have it with him. The alien responds by saying Jabba will take his ship instead. “Over my dead body“, responds Han and the alien draws his blaster. Nonplussed, Han shoots the alien and casually walks out of the cantina, tossing the bar man a coin on the way.

Meanwhile, Luke and Ben have raised enough funds form the sale of the land-speeder and make their way to the docking bay. But they are being followed by the same alien that spoke to the stormtroopers outside the cantina. At the docking bay, Han has some visitors, three aliens. Han speaks to Jabba, saying he has been waiting for him. Jabba responds (in Basic) that he is disappointed that Han hasn’t paid him, and questions why he had to “fry poor Greedo“, referring to to the green alien back at the cantina. Han tells Jabba he should have come to see him himself.

jabba1-620x922

Jabba is upset that Han dumped a shipment that was due to him. Han explains that he has a new charter, and will pay Jabba back, but he just needs more time. Jaba instructs his men to put their blasters down and address Han again, “Han, my boy. I’m only doing this because you’re the best, and I need you. But if you disappoint me again, I’ll put a price on your head so large…that you won’t be able to go near a civilized system again for the rest of your life“. Han assures Jabba that he will pay him.

Back on the Death Star, an officer informs Vader that they have started to search the space port and it is only a matter of time before the droids are found. Vader tells him to send in more troops, as finding the droids is the key to unlocking the location of the rebel base from their prisoner. At the moment, Vader’s instructions are already being carried out, and stormtroopers begin to advance on the Millenium Falcon. They open fire, and Han rushes his approaching passengers inside, whist firing back. He then runs inside and instructs “Chewie” to get them out of there. They manage to take off from the space port, but once in orbit around Tatooine, they are surrounded by three Starsdestroyers. The ships begin to fire on the Falcon, and Han tells his passengers to strap in and stay sharp as they are about to make the jump to lightspeed. The ship rocks violently, sending the passengers flying, but they have managed to escape the stardestroyers. For now…

Comment

So, that’s quite a long blog! But there are so many classic lines in this issue. We also get the introduction of Ben Kenobi, Han Solo and Chewbacca, as well as the first references to Princess Leia (despite having seen her in issue 1), the force and lightsabres. Not only that, but there is also the extra scene with Jabba. Now as you can tell from the image above, he looks a bit different to the Jabba we know and love. For those of you who have seen the special edition of Star Wars, you will know that this scene has been reinserted, but with (terrible) CGI for Jabba. Get ready for some space action in the next issue.

Details

Writer – Roy Thomas

Artist – Howard Chaykin

Cover date – August 1977

Financials

Cover Price – 30c

At the time of writing, the most expensive listing for this issue on eBay is a seemingly bargain price of £26.90.

Coming next

Fantastic Four 6

The Incredible Hulk 3

Journey into Mystery 84

ComicRetrospective 2016

@comicretrospect

Star Wars 1 (1977)

star wars 1

We take a little detour from our look at the introduction of Marvel’s superheroes in the 60s, and into a galaxy far, far away.  As previously mentioned, we will be reviewing the entirety of Marvel’s 1977 Star Wars series.  This will include the movie adaptations as well as the remaining stories in the 107 issue run.  Despite including movie adaptations, all issues are labelled as “Legends” meaning they are no longer considered cannon in the new Disney universe.

Synopsis

It may not be the now synonymous screen crawl, but the first page neatly sets the scene as follows:

“It is a period of CIVIL WAR in the galaxy.

A brave alliance of UNDERGROUND FREEDOM FIGHTERS has challenged the tyranny and oppression of the awesome GALACTIC EMPIRE.

To CRUSH the rebellion once and for all, the EMPIRE is constructing a sinister new BATTLE STATION. Powerful enough to destroy an entire planet, its COMPLETION will spell CERTAIN DOOM for the champions of freedom.

Striking from a fortress hidden among the billion stars of the galaxy, REBEL SPACESHIPS have won their first victory in a battle with the powerful IMPERIAL STARFLEET. The Empire fears that ANOTHER defeat could bring a THOUSAND MORE solar systems into the rebellion, and IMPERIAL CONTROL over the galaxy would be LOST FOREVER.”

The background image is of a battle in space taking place above a planet called Tatooine. We are told that a “gigantic” Imperial Starship is pursuing a rebel spacecraft. The rebel ship is soon caught in the grappling rays of the Imperials, and following an explosion, Imperial troops come pouring through into the rebel ship.

We are introduced to C-3PO and R2-D2, two droids who are trying to avoid the shots being fired whilst C-3PO is naturally blaming R2 for their predicament.

In the first shift from the narrative of the film, we are then taking to the ground on Tatooine, where Luke Skywalker catches a bright sparkle in the sky.  Luke then jumps into his Landspeeder, and heads for town called Anchorhead.

Meanwhile, on the ship above, Darth Vader makes his entrance. He is looking for information, but is told that the rebel ship has had its information retrieval system wiped clean. Despite interrogating a rebel officer, Darth Vader does not receive the answer he is is looking for and does not hesitate in killing the officer.  He orders his troops to search the vessel and find the passengers on board.

Nearby, we see 3PO and R2 again. R2 is with an unknown girl, who soon disappears. 3PO askes R2 why he vanished earlier, and what they are going to. Unperturbed, R2 moves away, as if he has somewhere he has to be. He mentions a “mission” to 3PO via a series of beeps that whilst 3PO can translate, he cannot understand what this mission refers to. As the explosions get nearer, R2 heads to an escape pod. 3PO is initially reluctant to go inside but changes his mind on hearing another explosion. The pod ejects from the ship and heads towards the planet below. Still on the ship, the unknown woman is captured by the Imperial troopers and shot with a paralysis ray.

In another scene not in the film, we are taking back to Anchorhead where Luke bumps into his old friend Biggs Darklighter.  Biggs tells Luke that he has been commissioned on board the Rand Ecliptic. Luke tells Biggs that he thinks he saw a battle in the sky but Biggs dismisses this, suggesting it is just a freighter refueling.

Meanwhile, the unknown woman is taken to Darth Vader and instantly recognsises him. She claims that Darth Vader has attacked a diplomatic vessel, but he instead accuses her of passing through a restricted system, receiving transmissions from spies and of being a traitor. Darth Vader turns to his officer once the woman is taking away and explains that he will keep her alive as she is his only link to finding the hidden rebel fortress. In the meantime, he instructs a distress signal to be sent, before the rebel ship is destroyed. They will call it a meteorite storm. The woman’s father and the senate will be informed that all aboard were killed. Lastly, Darth Vader informs the officer of the escape pod, and instructs him to send a detachment to find it, without attracting attention.

The escape pod has landed in a desert called “Jundland”. 3PO is complaining again about their situation and the two argue and go their separate ways.  We then see R2 attacked by mysterious figures in brown robes.

We cut to a conversation between Luke and Biggs (again not shown in the film). Biggs explains to Luke that whilst at the academy, he made some friends.  When his frigate passes through a central system, he and his group of friends will jump ship and join the Rebellion! Luke is amazed and skeptical, saying that Biggs may never find the Rebels. Biggs agrees but says he has to try and he has a friend of a friend on Bestine, who will help them make contact.

In a conference room back on the station, a group of Imperial officers are talking about Darth Vader’s recent actions and how dangerous the rebel alliance is. They are interrupted as Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin enter the room.  Tarkin informs the officers that he has just received word from the Emperor that he has dissolved the Imperial Senate – permanently.  Admiral Motti, one of the Imperial officers in the room asks how the Emperor intends to maintain control.  Tarkin replies by using fear and the presence of the battle station they are on.  Darth Vader adds that the data the rebels were able to obtain will soon be retrieved.  Another of the officers proclaims that any attack on the battle station would be a useless gesture.  Vader reminds him not to be too proud, and when the officer attempts to reply by criticising Vader’s belief in an “ancient religion“, he begins to struggle to breath.  Vader mutters, “I find your lack of faith disturbing“, before Tarkin orders him to release the officer.

Back on Tatooine, we see that both R2 and 3PO have been captured by the robed figures, known as Jawas.  They are being held in a sandcrawler, which comes to a halt and the droids are ordered outside. The droids are lined up for inspection by potential customers, one of which is Luke, accompanied by his uncle Owen.  Luke’s uncle chooses an R2-unit but refers to R2-D2 as junk.  He then questions whether 3PO can speak Bocce, amongst other languages. Satisfied with the response, he chooses him too. As they walk off, the R2 unit blows a motivator, causing Owen (at 3PO’s suggestion) to replace him with R2-D2. 3PO doesn’t waste time in making it clear to R2 that he should be grateful for his intervention.

Luke takes the droids to be cleaned up, and whilst doing so is complaining to them about Biggs. As Luke cleans R2, an image appears of the woman from the rebel ship. “Obi Wan Kenobi…help me! You’re my only ho…” says the woman in the image before the message is repeated. Luke asks R2 who the beautiful woman is, but 3PO states that R2 is malfunctioning. R2 then states that he is the property of Obi Wan Kenobi, and it is a private message for him. Luke states that he doesn’t know any Obi Wan Kenobi, but there is an old Ben Kenobi who lives out in the dunes. He then notices a restraining bolt on R2 and when he tries to remove it, the image disappears.

Luke leaves the droids to have dinner with his uncle and aunt. Luke suggests that R2 may be stolen, due to the message and Obi Wan Kenobi. His uncle responds angrily that Luke should stay away from that “old wizard”. Luke wonders what will happen if Obi Wan came looking for the droid. His uncle responds by saying that he won’t, as he died at the same time as his father. Luke is excited to hear about his father and asks whether Obi Wan knew him. Owen shuts him down. Luke then explains that if the droids work out, he would like to submit his application to the academy. Owen tells Luke that he can apply next term, after the harvest. Luke storms off and his aunt tells his uncle that he cannot keep him here forever, as he’s got “too much of his father in him“. Owen explains “that’s what I am afraid of!

Back with the droids, 3PO is startled by Luke’s appearance and claims it “wasn’t his fault“. When Luke asks him what he is talking about, 3PO explains that R2 has left to complete his mission. It is nightfall now on Tatooine, so Luke rises at first light to go and look for him, with 3PO in tow. Whilst Luke and 3PO are looking for R2, Imperial troopers have landed on Tatooine and found the escape pod. On closer inspection, they also find evidence of droids.

Luke and 3PO find R2 and R2 explains that there are savages close by. Luke fears they may be Sandpeople and tells the droids to hurry, but the Sandpeople spring a surprise attack. And that brings to an end, the first of the six part movie adaption.

Comments

Other than the scenes with Biggs, the first issue is a very close adaption of the film, with numerous lines taken directly from it. Even the Biggs scenes where part of George Lucas’ script, so there are no major surprises here. In the last scene with Biggs, mention is made of a planet called Bestine, which does not sound familiar, and may be an early alteration of Bespin. There is also a nice little plot summary at the end of the issue, for those not familiar with the movie.

Details

Writer – Roy Thomas

Artist – Howard Chaykin

Cover date – July 1977

Financials and further rerading

Cover price – 30c (although there are also rare 35c version available)

At the time of publishing, the most expensive listing for Star Wars 1 on eBay was $2,499.99 (this is the 30c version).

The comic can be read digitally at Marvel.com here or on Comixology here. If you prefer your reading a little heavier, you can get the Marvel omnibus which collects the first 44 issues of the series. Link to Amazon UK here, but if you are in the US, InstockTrades offer better value.

Coming next

The next reviews in our chronological look at the Marvel superheroes will be:

Fantastic Four 5

The Incredible Hulk 2

Journey into Mystery 83

Plus a look at Star Wars 2

And perhaps some more detours…

ComicRetrospective 2016

@comictretrospect