Thursday, October 10, 2013

On the Coffee Table: Marvel Star Wars, Vol. 4

Title: Star Wars Omnibus: A Long Time Ago...., Volume 4
via Wookieepedia

As part of its Omnibus series, Dark Horse Comics has collected comic books from Star Wars's days with Marvel back in the 1970s and '80s.  Volume 4 compiles issues #68-85, Annual #3 and Return of the Jedi #1-4.  My reflections on the first three volumes can be found here, here and here.

I felt the strongest part of this collection was the comic adaptation of Jedi - quite a pleasant surprise, actually.  To me, Return of the Jedi (ROTJ), classic that it is, was the weakest of the original trilogy.  However, I'd say the comic adaptation is actually the best of the three.  For the first time, the adaptation was a separate series from the main Marvel run.  I expect timing was key to the success.  The ROTJ comics were released a full five months after the actual movie, plenty of time for the creators to have seen the film themselves.  As such, the ROTJ adaptation is a more faithful rendering of the original than had been possible with the previous two movies.  The artwork (Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon) is especially impressive.  Certain elements of the story, like Leia's initial encounter with Wicket, are glossed over in the comics, undoubtedly with the safe assumption that most readers had already seen the movie.  Even with the changes, the heart of the story is well-preserved.

Volume 4 only includes five issues with stories set after the events in ROTJ, a time period untouched by the movies until 2015.  As discussed in previous posts, the Marvel comics are low canon in the Expanded Star Wars Universe, lower than the more extensive Dark Horse Comics and many of the fan fiction novels.  As such, the Marvel version of life after Jedi isn't likely to be given much consideration in the sequel trilogy.  Even so, it's fun to watch our friends struggle to build a new republic and otherwise sort out their post-Rebellion lives.  Several missions are made to establish diplomatic ties with old friends in an effort to build a new government.  Both Han and Lando pursue balance between their old scoundrel selves and their new respectable reputations.
via Wookieepedia

My favorite new character from the collection is LE-914, a manifest droid who belonged to Rebel Tay Vanis.  I like her partly because she is obviously intended to be female, unusual in the Star Wars universe.  Her story, featured in issue #80, is also a surprisingly touching tale of devotion to Vanis.
via Wookieepedia

I have only one more Omnibus volume to go for the old Marvels.  My curiosity in the post-ROTJ story is holding firm so far, even knowing much of it's been contradicted by higher canon material since.  I look forward to reading the last 22 Marvel issues.

22 comments:

  1. Staring at the last image and at a loss for words.

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    1. It's not intended to be sexual, if that's what you're thinking. Moments later (SPOILER), she destroys herself with the intention of permitting him a merciful death - quite somber, actually.

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    2. No it didn't evoke anything sexual for me, at all. I was thinking more along the lines of an android's capacity for something as complex as devotion. And now, sacrifice.

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    3. It's a really interesting story from the perspective of Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics and I didn't even think of this until just now. The Three Laws are:

      1.A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
      2.A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
      3.A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

      LE-914 (Ellie for short) violates all 3, and yet she clearly acted out of deep compassion - truly fascinating.

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    4. The spirit versus the letter of the law.

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    5. Indeed - not that Star Wars droids ever followed or even should follow the Asimov laws. It's just fun to ponder from that perspective.

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  2. Oooh. I don't believe I've seen any of these comics, and I think now I'm drooling a little.
    I love the thought of Lando being a respectable character. LOVE it.

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    1. It's a bit of a struggle for him but he's trying.

      The old Marvels are fun - completely hokey, of course.

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    2. Lando gets some much needed development in the comics. One of the issues in this collection is a Lando story, without any of the characters from the first movie: #83, Sweetheart Contract.

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  3. I'm going to have to go back through your posts on these comics. If this is a continuation of the original Marvel series, I remember trying it out in 1978 after they went on from the movie... but the giant rabbit and "Don Juan Quixote" were kind of silly. Not that silly is bad, but it just didn't feel like Star Wars. I get the feeling the quality improved as it went on, though.

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    1. It is, in fact, the same series. I had the same reaction when I found them as a kid. This is not the Star Wars I'm looking for... (heheh - just came to me, couldn't resist...)

      I'm not sure they got better, exactly. The stories in the comics followed their own rules as the Lucas cabal didn't give the Marvel folks much to go on. Some of the stories are more fun than others.

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    2. 'This is not the Star Wars I'm looking for...'

      Okay, saw this after I posted on the scoundrel thread. Good one. :)

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    3. Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week...

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  4. Well now I am interested I will have to go back and read your reviews.
    Of course if I was Sheldon I would have read all of these already.

    cheers, parsnip

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  5. Interesting how it is the better of the three as i agree, return of the jedi was the weakest of the original 3.

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    1. I think the benefit of being able to see the movie ahead of time must have helped.

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  6. You got to see it ahead of time? How awesome!

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    1. I wish! Oh, how my 10 year old spirit would have soared!

      No, I mean the comic creators got to see the film before they started working on the books. They didn't have that luxury with the first two movies.

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