Monday, April 26, 2021

Star Wars Comics: The Early Adventures #1-4, The Freedon Nadd Uprising #2, Dark Lords of the Sith #1-2

Russ Manning, writer and artist for the first Star Wars comic strip, was born January 5, 1929 in Van Nuys, California.  He studied at the Los Angeles County Art Institute then drew cartoons for his military base newspaper during his US Army service in Japan.  His professional career in comic books began when he joined Western Publishing in 1953.  Before Star Wars, his best known work was Magnus, Robot Fighter, his own creation,  and numerous Tarzan comics.  

Manning died of cancer in 1981.  He is in the William Eisner Award Hall of Fame and even has an Eisner Award named after him: The Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award.  A few creators I have featured over the years have won it: Scott McCloud, Jeff Smith and Gene Ha.

My Recent Reads

Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures #1
Originally Published August 9, 1994
Reproduction of a comic strip from 1979
Writer: Russ Manning
Artists: Manning and Rick Hoberg
In-Story Timeline: 1 ABY

  • Russ Manning wrote and drew the very first Star Wars newspaper comic strips, beginning in 1979.  While it predates the Goodwin/Williamson strips, it is set after them in the timeline.  Also important: these strips were published before the release of The Empire Strikes Back so essential story elements had not yet been revealed, likely not even to the comic creators.
  • Gambler's World begins.  This initial story ran from March 12 - September 8, 1979.
  • Luke and Leia (with droids in tow) are heading to Vorzyd V to disrupt the Empire funding gambling operation there.  Darth Vader sends a mysterious agent named Blackhole to stop them.
  • At their first casino stop, Luke hits big, twice, thereby drawing way too much attention.
  • On their way to the next one, they are captured by shadow stormtroopers and taken to the spaceport.
  • Artoo and Threepio witness the capture, then figure out which ship L&L are being held on: a Hrakian vessel.
  • As the issue ends, the droids run off to find a Hrakian to help sneak them on board.  Meanwhile, Blackhole begins his interrogation of L&L.

Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures #2
September 1, 1994
Reproduction of a comic strip from 1979
Manning/Manning and Hoberg
  • Gambler's World continues.
  • In a bar, the droids find Branox, a drunken Hrakian pilot, and trick him into letting them on his ship, fortunately the same one L&L are on.  
  • The droids break L&L, and two other local Rebels, free and our friends manage to escape.

Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures #3
October 1, 1994
Reproduction of a comic strip from 1979
Manning/Manning and Hoberg

  • Luke goes to meet the Vorzyd V contact, who also turns out to be the planet's president.  She has a plan to devert the casino money to the Rebellion through Luke but while they are discussing the plan, the group comes under attack and Luke has to make a run for it.
  • While he was gone, Leia and Artoo were kidnapped by "Freelies," a group of young toughs who have been trying to steal the droids for much of the story.
  • In the midst of Luke's rescue attempt, stormtroopers following Luke surround the Freelie base.
  • The Freelies fight off the stormtroopers and in the confusion, our friends are able to escape.

Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures #4
November 1, 1994
Reproduction of a comic strip from 1979
Steve Gerber/Manning and Hoberg
In-Story Timeline: c. 0 ABY

  • #4 includes the entire run of Tatooine Sojourn.  The story ran from September 10 - November 5, 1979.
  • Tatooine Sojourn was the first Star Wars strip to appear on both Sundays and weekdays.  This contradicts my previous, erroneous assertion that Star Wars was a weekday-only strip.  
  • My humble apologies.
  • Luke is unhappily sent back to Tatooine to check on a mysterious space capsule.  The appearance of such capsules has coincided with recent Imperial attacks on Rebel bases so the Rebellion wants him to figure out what's going on.
  • He meets his contact Anduvil at Mos Eisley, of course, when she rescues him from being shot.
  • Anduvil explains that the arrival of capsules has also coincided with outbreaks of the deadly Bledsoe's disease which serves primarily to weaken worlds before the Empire attacks them.  
  • In an interesting twist, the Imperials have also manipulated the disease to leave astral maps on a victim's eyes which enable tracking of Rebel bases for those who know to look.
  • Luke, Anduvil and the droids eventually make their escape, blowing up the new Imperial base on Tatooine on their way out.

    Tales of the Jedi - The Freedon Nadd Uprising #2: Initiates of the Sith
    September 1, 1994
    Tom Veitch/Tony Akins
    In-Story Timeline: 3,998 BBY

    via Amazon

    • Republic and Jedi reinforcements arrive on Onderon to join the fight against the Freedon Nadd Uprising.
    • Satal and Aleema Keto crash land but they survive.  
    • Ulic and his people break the siege engines.  Ulic and Nomi finally meet, in the midst of battle.
    • The Ketos bring their Sith book to King Ommin who offers to translate it for them.  He also shows them his captive: Jedi Master Arca Jeth, whom he intends to convert to the Dark Side.
    • The Jedi attack Ommin's stronghold and kill him.
    • The Ketos escape with their book.  The Force ghost of Freedon Nadd also gives them a talisman and two Sith swords.
    • Arca is rescued.
    • The sarcophagi, which now include Ommin's, are finally evacuated to the moon Dxun.

    Tales of the Jedi - Dark Lords of the Sith #1: Masters and Students of the Force
    October 1, 1994
    Veitch and Kevin J. Anderson/Chris Gossett
    In-Story Timeline: 3,996 BBY

    • We meet Exar Kun, a Jedi apprentice training under Master Vodo on Dantooine.  He is powerful and troublingly curious about the Dark Side.
    • Aleema and Satal Keto form a Dark Side society called the Krath in the Empress Teta system.  The Ketos lead the Krath in a coup, killing their own father as well as the Mining Guild officials who run the system's economy.  Over dinner, they plan further atrocities.
    • Master Arca gathers his Jedi and sends them off to the Tetan system.  Ulic and Nomi lag behind so Arca can train Nomi in battle meditation.
    • Meanwhile, back on Dantooine, Kun defeats first fellow apprentices then Master Vodo in duels.
    • Vodo warns Kun that there's a part of the apprentice's heart that escapes the Light Side.  Arrogantly, Kun dismisses the warning.

    Tales of the Jedi - Dark Lords of the Sith #2: The Quest for the Sith
    November 1, 1994
    Veitch and Anderson/Gossett

    • The story is running on three, for the moment, separate threads: Exar Kun, Krath and Ulic/Nomi:
    • Kun:
      • Exar Kun arrives on Onderon, asking to investigate the Sith artifacts collected from King Ommin's Lair.  Master Arca, correctly, doesn't trust him and sends him away.
      • Undeterred, Kun goes first to Iziz, then to the Dxun moon where the Naddist sarcophagi are entombed.
      • On Dxun, the Forsce Ghost of Freedon Nadd urges Kun to take scrolls from his tomb.  The scrolls tell him, among other things, that facing extermination, the Sith wandered until they reached Korriban.  That's where Kun heads next.
    • Krath:
      • Satal and Aleema are quickly building an empire in the Empress Teta system.  Aleema is particularly gifted in using the Force to generate illusions.
      • They attack Koros Major, where the Jedi and the Republic aim to stop them.
    • Ulic/Nomi:
      • Our Jedi protagonists have joined the counterattack.
      • Nomi uses her own considerable psychic power to see through Aleema's illusions but it's not enough to fend off the brunt of the Krath assault on the Republic fleet.
      • Ulic is wounded.
      • While Nomi treats him, Republic Captain Vanicus orders a retreat.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment