We all know the story of a Galaxy Far Far Away..We know the names Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Many of us have purchased a VHS set or DVD/Blu Ray set or maybe one of each. We may have a T shirt or a few action figures as well. Yes Star wars has been a part of many people lives since after the mid 70s. Us Star Wars fans think we know quite a bit about Star Wars huh?
Well did you know Han Solo once had help from a Green Rabbit and a Jedi named Don-Wan Kihotay who sported a fancy PINK Lightsaber?
Did you know that one of Luke’s own love interests named Shira would, after the death of Darth Vader would become the new Dark Lord and hunt Luke and Leia across the galaxy?
If this doesn’t ring a bell it’s because all these stories were told in the late 1970s Marvel Star Wars Comic book series. The series ran from 1977 to 1986 ending quietly with issue 107. The series is fondly remembered by much of comic’s fandom and revered for its early expanded universe stories and new characters. The series outlived the typical licensed franchise stereotype and grew to become its own piece of Star Wars lore.
The book itself was filled for much of its run by big names in the comic book industry doing the creative footwork. Names like Roy Thomas (Avengers), Howard Chaykin (Conan) Al Williamson (Gold Key), and Walt Simonson (Thor). The interior art work for the majority of the series was far above what was on most store spinner racks at the time.
So what makes these books memorable or worth buying? The adaptations of the movies, especially Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi were top notch translations of the movies. The original stories they told as well were amazing. Two original arcs in particular are especially well written. The search for Han Solo which ran directly after the Empire Strikes Back adaptation was especially well handled and looked at the Star Wars casts efforts to take down the Carbonite frozen body of their beloved friend. (Storyline begins in issue 68) Next was the Pariah storyline which involved Luke and his new love interest Shira who he believes he accidentally played a role in her accidental death in the heat of space battle, on to have Shira betray him and return as a dark lord. This story would begin in issue 60-63 and returns as a Dark Lord named Luymia in issue 88 and her story continues right up till the final issue 107.
Aside from the great art work and storylines the book was also blooper reel. More so in the early issue of the book the creative team were in charge of doing an actual movie adaptation of Star wars without actually seeing the movie. Supplied with only a handful of still of the characters and some posters the artist went to work and put his own spin on things.
Classic mistakes were made such as giving Luke and Obi wan Red Lightsabers which are the specific weapons of the Sith, the bad guys of the Star wars universe. Mis-coloring was almost common in the early books. Issue number one contained so many coloring errors it was outrageous. Han Solo wore a Orange jacket instead of his classic black vest and white shirt, Princess Leia was dressed a purple gown rather than her classic white garb and immortalized forever on the cover is a great looking Luke with a nice Red Hot Lightsaber.
Some of the more famous mess ups were the inclusion of the famous cutting room floor Luke and Biggs scene that fans of the movies have clamoured to be released and has only recently been officially released as part of the latest Blu-Ray set of the original trilogy. Well fans in 1977 got it right away if you were a fan of the comic, as the creative team had no idea what was kept and what had been cut from the script so they adapted the story directly as it was written. So there you had it Biggs and Luke bonding well before any DVD extras pulled it from its waste basket in the cutting room. Issues on through six as well were notorious for not having the best artwork. Issues one and two are specifically rough and characters and space ships were not well defined like they would eventually be later in the series.
The same issue would be repeated again in the adaptation of The Empire Strikes back as artists did not have an accurate depiction of characters like Yoda to work from and the final interpretation was quite interesting. As with the original movie the creative teams did not have the final film to view to see how their interpretation compared to the actual movie so they worked from production art , still and concept descriptions to imagine the Star Wars universe. The art would be corrected in subsequent reprints after the movies release.
Overall this was one of my favorite comics as a kid and just let my imagination in regards to the Star wars universe go wild. There were not limitations in those days of Prequels that could inhibit your use of a character in the series. It was a clean open book and Marvel carved out a better universe than either of the Prequels did in my opinion.
I remember the sense of pure sadness upon picking up the final issue from the store the day it came out in my town. My comic that I had grown up with..the movies I had watched over and over again were finished. I was certain in 1986 I would never see Star Wars again..and part of me as a comic fan died that day. Check out your local comic book shop and book store and grab yourself some of this vintage Star wars retro fun. May The Force Be With You.