May the Fourth be with you, Looters! On this very special day, as folks all over the internets are celebrating Star Wars, we wanted to deliver some memories that underline why we have loved Star Wars since our childhoods…
Marvel in recent years have resurrected their Star Wars comics line in grand fashion, with several terrific titles that are now canon Star Wars stories within the continuity of the films and TV series. Decades ago, of course, the SW volumes from Marvel served as a buffer as we eagerly awaited more films in the original trilogy to be released. Some of those (now non-canon) stories were pretty interesting; other choices, eh, not so much. One thing’s for certain though… those vintage covers were dynamic, colorful, sometimes unintentionally funny and always, always entertaining:
Star Wars #3: Right in the thick of the adaptation of the original film! (I remember having a giant size omnibus of the entire movie adaptation that was as big as a broadsheet newspaper. At five, it felt like I could barely lift it.) One thing united a lot of the early SW Marvel covers: Everyone was always really angry, and somehow they could never quite get Chewbacca’s head shape right. Bless.
Star Wars #8: We’ve now moved on from the A New Hope conclusion into uncharted territory. Which includes Han and Chewie joining a motley crew defending a moisture farmer’s village, like the Magnificent Seven in space. And lo and behold, the first appearance of Jaxxon! Yes, he’s the green rabbit guy in the not-quite-a-Rebel-jumpsuit. Yes, he’s an angry thug rabbit. At least partially inspired by Bugs Bunny. (!!!) Yes, this is notoriously odd story choice. (So much so that one of the many variant covers of Marvel’s rebooted Star Wars #1 was a big ol’ Jaxxon gag. A loving one, but still! Belly laughs.)
Star Wars #15: More swashbuckling shenanigans in the stars with our favorite Corellian captain. Here, Han is facing off with Crimson Jack, a rival smuggler, in a blaster-packed space walk outside a hovering space craft and… okay, can we actually talk about why this is incredibly cool? In all of the Star Wars content that we’ve seen so far, it’s been relatively infrequent that we’ve ever seen anyone go for space walks, for any reason let alone a crazy shootout in zero gravity. (Artoo’s repair job in The Phantom Menace is the only notable one in the films. Clone Wars had some too, I believe…) Anyway, more space walkin’ please! Looking at you, Rian Johnson.
Star Wars #19: Probably my favorite cover of the entire original run. There’s so much to digest here. Why are all of our heroes disembodied heads floating in space? (Again, all still angry. Harder to tell with Threepio, but he’s probably annoyed.) Who decided to represent “A Man Made Wheel of DEATH!” with an actual skull in the middle? (Note: This is a gambling den called The Wheel, that appears in other Star Wars texts and does not have an actual giant skull in the middle.) And who decided to dub our core Rebels “The Star-Warriors” all of the sudden? It’s all just so cheesy wonderful. *heart-eyes*
Star Wars #20: Han Solo is about to be killed by a giant, four-armed, blade-wielding muscular Sea Monkey wearing a loincloth. WHAT MORE COULD YOU POSSIBLY NEED TO SELL YOU THIS COMIC?
Star Wars #38: Okay, this has been focusing too much on all the fun Han is having. Let’s circle back to the Skywalker twins. (Well before we knew that was even a thing.) It’s possible the Marvel folks thought this was a fun call-back to the trash compactor monster in A New Hope, but in fact we prefer to think of them as inventing tentacle terror before it was cool. (And yep, that’s a golden droid who looks like Threepio’s cooler cousin wielding a lightsaber. By the way, have you noticed that Luke in the upper left on every cover has a saber that is constantly changing colors? Here they finally got it right!)
Star Wars #49: So, yeah nothing terribly weird or oddly funny about this cover. It’s actually pretty eye-catching and cool. Oh, but there’s that little detail of the fact that the issue is entitled ‘The Last Jedi’!!! So much for that one being so ground breaking. But it IS a great title, so getting more mileage out of it is fully endorsed, Lucasfilm! (Personal note: This is one of the issues of this comic that, for some reason, I vividly remember buying when it came out. At the supermarket, when you could still do that. That Imperial officer is called Zeta Traal and she’s fantastic.)
Star Wars #56: Now we’ve passed The Empire Strikes Back in continuity. I mean, it’s amusing that this cover doesn’t have a title listed at all. The first thing that springs to mind is ‘THE DAY THAT LOBOT FINALLY SNAPPED.’ (What did you do, Lando? Honestly though, he probably just needs his halo rebooted. Poor Calrissian, where’s an Ugnaught when you need one?)
Star Wars #107: And at last, we skip to the end of the original run. And what a portrait. First, the fashion: Leia’s chic off-the-shoulder green gown! Luke’s sleeveless gun show! Lando’s frilled fuchsia shirt, and exactly why is Chewie cradling him in his arms?! (This is also definitely one of Chewie’s stranger renderings, too.) Why is Artoo missing a lot of the lenses on his head? Who is the beret-wearing insect guy who is totally photobombing this shot?! (Note: He’s from a race called the Hiromi. Who don’t appear in this final issue, so it’s makes even less sense.) Maybe the best thing about this, in retrospect, is how Han looks exactly the same as he always has: No odd pose, not even a costume change. Which somehow makes cosmic sense if you think about The Force Awakens, where Leia’s first words to him in many years are, “Same jacket.” So maybe this is a bit canon, after all. 😉