Tuesday, December 1, 2015

ANTICIPATING NEW STAR WARS: the best Star Wars comic you’ve never read

Born in 1972, I was five when Star Wars [no, not “A New Hope”] hit theaters, where I saw it like most everyone else on the planet at that time.  Stating I was blown away is an understatement.  From the “Holiday Special” to the action figures to the trading cards and the storybook adaptations, I was all in.  That trilogy – the only Star Wars trilogy, to my mind – was the be-all and end-all for many, many years.    

It’s now December, 2015, and we are just weeks away from the new Star Wars film, “The Force Awakens.”  All signs point to this will be good, and with all the excitement surrounding this new chapter, my mind has trailed back to some of my fondest Star Wars memories.  Here’s one . . .

The Marvel iteration of the Star Wars comics was fun, if a bit hamstrung by the need to tread lightly around film continuity, and the subsequent Dark Horse books expanded greatly on the bedrock laid by those films.  But one of the best Star Wars comics ever was published in 1987—the 10th anniversary of the original film—by Blackthorne Publishing, and I imagine there are many Star Wars fans who’ve never read this story.

Written by Len Wein, with art from Glen Johnson & Jim Nelson, this story takes place almost directly after the end of Star Wars.  The story follows Luke, Han, Chewbacca, and C-3PO as they travel in the Millennium Falcon back to Tattooine.  With the unplanned flight from his home planet, as Imperials hotly pursued them, Luke did not have the opportunity to see to his deceased aunt and uncle’s affairs, most importantly the question of who would take over their moisture farm.  Following the Force, the quarter end up at the Mos Eisley cantina where Luke offers the farm to the large alien, Throgg, who looks like he would be more comfortable ripping the arms off a Gundark than working moisture vaporators.  He refuses.  Then things go from bad to worse, as Han is recognized by one of the patrons. 

A healthy brawl ensues, followed by the Rebels escaping through the crowded streets of Mos Eisley, pursued once again by Imperial Stormtroopers, which they easily dispatch.  Back in the dunes, Jawas have found the Falcon, but Han has a few surprises and manages to scatter the desert scavengers as the four board the ship and blast off from that arid dustball, even as we, the readers, discover that Throgg has decided to take over the Lars’ homestead and return to his life as a moisture farmer. 

Published in Blackthorne’s 3-D series, as a Tenth Anniversary Special, this Star Wars tale has a lot going for it.  Len Wein gives us [some] of our favorite characters from the movies in a moving, action-packed story that evokes the tone and feel of Star Wars, perfectly.  It suffers, in places, from over-explanation and exposition.  But this aspect, still common for comic books at this time, does not detract overmuch from the narrative.  The art is competent enough, telling the story in a clean manner.  Certainly, reading this without the blue/red 3-D glasses is a bit of a pain, but if you’re a big Star Wars fan, it is well worth the effort.  And if you find it in the Dark Horse omnibus collection, “Wild Space,” you’ll be able to read it without the 3-D effects.  Seek it out; utilize your library, if need be; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.


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