Monday, May 3, 2021

Star Wars Comics: The Early Adventures #5-7, Dark Lords of the Sith #3-4, Dark Empire II #1-2

These stories are getting fun!  What's cool is that the various series, while written in different decades and set in different millennia, are gradually tying together.  In effect, the Star Wars comic books begin to comprise a world of their own.  I like that.  While the films will always and should always be the primary attraction of the franchise (though The Mandalorian is certainly challenging that assumption), I appreciate it when the supplementary materials are able to hold up well in their own right.  That definitely happened with The Clone Wars and in 1995, it was beginning to happen with the Dark Horse comics.

Cam Kennedy, the artist for Dark Empire, was born in Glasgow.  He broke through while working for the British magazine 2000 AD, particularly their Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper stories.  He has worked on numerous titles for both DC and Marvel, including Batman, Daredevil and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.  He was also the artist for comic adaptations of both Kidnapped and Jeckyll and Hyde.

My Recent Reads

Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures #5
Originally Published December 13, 1994
Reproduction of a comic strip from 1979
Writer: Russ Manning
Artists: Russ Manning, Brian Snoddy and Rick Hoberg
In-Story Timeline: 1 ABY
  • Collects the story Princess Leia, Imperial Servant which originally ran from November 6 - December 31, 1979.
  • Leia, in evading Imperial capture, ends up on Phelarion, a Megonite moss harvesting planet.  The operation is run by Thalassa Tarkin, wife of the recently killed Grand Moff Tarkin.  While Leia tries to pass herself off as one of the workers, Thalassa knows who she really is and tries to use her for her own purposes.
  • Instead, Leia teams up with Sparv and Bikum Calus, a couple of workers trying to smuggle Megonite moss off the planet for their own material gain.  
  • At first, the smugglers don't trust Leia but eventually they all work together.
  • In the end, Han Solo shows up in the Falcon to save the day, helping the three escape, evading the Imperials once again.

Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures #6
January 3, 1995
Reproduction of a comic strip from 1980
Manning/Manny, Snoddy and Hoberg
In-Story Timeline: 0 ABY

  • Collects the story The Second Kessel Run which originally ran from January 1 - February 25, 1980.
  • It's one of the many iconic Han Solo lines from the original movie: "You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon?  It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in twelve parsecs."  I am comfortable admitting, I'd never actually given much thought to what Kessel actually was, though I'd always assumed that it had something to do with smuggling.  Turns out it's a planet at one end of an important spice smuggling route.
  • It is also the home planet of Professor Renn Volz who invented the Ion Ring, a ship which can dramatically alter a planet's climate.  While Volz intends to use his machine to help people, the Empire, predictably, has a more sinister vision.
  • Imperial Captain Bzom boards Volz's ship and kidnaps the inventor's daughter Mira, holding her hostage so the professor will do his bidding.
  • Fortunately, Mira is able to escape and stowaway on the Falcon while Han and Chewie, naturally, are in Kessel to begin a spice run.  
  • When they pick up Luke en route, Luke discovers Mira.  Obviously, our heroes come to the Volzes' rescue.
  • Unfortunately, in order to keep the Ion Ring out of Imperial hands, Professor Volz is forced to destroy it.

Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures #7
February 14, 1995
Reproduction of a comic strip from 1980
Manning/Manny, Snoddy and Hoberg
In-Story Timeline: 1 ABY

  • Collects the story Bring Me the Children which originally ran from February 26 - April 21, 1980.
  • Our heroes save a class of children and their teacher from Imperial goons.  One of the children, Berd, escapes and has a special super secret plan for rescuing everyone.
  • The story, I have to say, is god awful.  It nearly killed my interest in this series but looking ahead, it looks like the ship will be righted soon.
  • Wesley Crusher was not a new concept.  A kid thrown into the action of an adventure tale: a very popular gimmick in the 1980s.  Marvel tried it.  Star Wars tried it.  Transformers did it.  Spielberg made it work with E.T., at least commercially.  Otherwise, it nearly always falters.  Maybe I was just the wrong kid for the idea to take hold.  I didn't want to be the kid.  I wanted to grow up and be the adult.  
  • Plus, this particular story edges far too close to Sandy Hook territory for me to be able to see it as a light-hearted romp, especially since the usual Star Wars characters - apart from Chewie - aren't inclined to do anythig to help at first.
  • Poor concept executed in poor taste.

Tales of the Jedi - Dark Lords of the Sith #3: Descent to the Dark Side
December 3, 1994
Tom Veitch and Kevin J. Anderson/Chris Gossett
In-Story Timeline: 3,996 BBY

  • There are two threads in this issue: the war between the Jedi and the Krath told from the Jedi point of view and Exar Kun's continuing quest for knowledge of the Dark Side.
  • Jedi/Krath War:
    • The Jedi meet on Deneba to figure out what to do.
    • Ulic Qel-Dorma has a controversial idea: a Jedi should infiltrate the Krath and destroy it from within.  He volunteers himself for the job.  While Nomi and Master Arca both object, Ulic decides to go for it.  This idea of destroying the Sith by becoming the Sith is, of course, an essential recurring theme in the broader Star Wars narrative.
    • The Krath attack Deneba.  They gain the upper hand in the battle by turning the Jedi's servant droids against their matters, a move perhaps foreshadowing Order 66?
    • Master Arca is killed in the battle.
  • Exar Kun:
    • On Korriban, the Force Ghost of Freedon Nadd leads Exar Kun into the Mausoleum for Vanquished Enemies.  Nadd collapses the cave, crushing Kun, and tells Kun that he can only be saved by accepting the Dark Side - nasty trick!
    • Kun accepts.
    • Here's where the crossover fun begins.  After giving Kun the chance to experience his new Dark Side powers, Nadd tells him the story of Naga Sadow, a great Sith magician whose followers found refuge on the fourth moon of Yavin.
    • Well, the devoted will recall that Yavin 4 was the site of the Rebellion headquarters when they launched their first attack on the Death Star in A New Hope.  
    • Star Wars comic book readers in 1994 might also have taken note of a story from the Classic Star Wars series: The Night Beast.  In that tale, our heroes encounter a monster living underneath the ruins which housed the Rebel base.  The creature, strong with the Dark Side, was left behind when the moon's "previous inhabitants" left.  It would seem we're now getting a story about who those inhabitants might have been.
    • Nicely done, Mr. Veitch!

Tales of the Jedi - Dark Lords of the Sith #4: Death of a Dark Jedi
January 10, 1995
Veitch and Anderson/Gossett
  • Jedi/Krath War:
    • While Ulic is preparing to go to the Empress Teta system, both Nomi and Ulic's brother Cay try to talk him out of his plan to infiltrate the Krath.  Ulic is resolved.  Off he goes.
    • But not before he and Nomi have a big goodbye smooch.
    • Ulic arrives in Cinnegar.  He attends a public execution where several carbonite miners stage an attak on Aleema.  
    • Seeking to gain the trust of the Ketos, Ulic joins the fight against the rebel miners.
    • Ulic doesn't know it yet but the Ketos have been aware of his presence since he arrived.  They willingly bring him into their confidence, though Satal is clearly jealous of him.
  • Exar Kun:
    • On Yavin 4, Exar Kun runs into the Massassi, the followers of the late Naga Sadow.  They take him prisoner and brought to the temple to be sacrificed.
    • During the ceremony, a great beast is created.
    • Taking control of a Sith amulet, Kun uses the Dark Side of the Force to destroy the beast.
    • The Massassi accept him as their new leader.
    • Kun uses the amulet to finally destroy the Force Ghost of Freedon Nadd, once and for all.
    • As he does so, Nadd reaches out to the Ketos to warn them of Kun's ascendence.

Dark Empire II #1: Operation Shadow Hand
December 20, 1994
Veitch/Cam Kennedy
In-Story Timeline: 10 ABY
  • The Dark Empire story continues.
  • Luke has begun his effort to restore the Jedi Order, beginning with his new friend: Kam Solusar, a reformed Dark Jedi.
  • The Empire, led by Executor Sedriss, attacks Balmorra, an independent world which had been the main producer of AT-STs for the Empire.  Now they are rebelling. 
  • A big droid battle ensues between Sedriss and the Balmorran Governor Beltane, both sides showing off their latest secret weapons.  The Balmorrans prevail.
  • Back at Rebel HQ, Mon Mothma reveals that Beltane has a shipment of his new droids for the Rebels.  Wedge suggests a plan to pick them up.
  • Luke suggests the droids be used to liberate more worlds but he is voted down.
  • Next, Luke heads to Ossus to find Jedi artifacts, an interesting parallel with the Exar Kun story.
  • Meanwhile, through one of his clones, Emperor Palpatine is reborn.  

Dark Empire II #2: Duel on Nar Shaddaa
January 24, 1995

via Amazon

  • For their part, Leia, Han and Chewbacca head to Nar Shaddaa so Leia can find Vima-Da-Boda, the old Jedi woman who gave Leia a lightsaber the last time they were there.
  • With the Vima-Da-Boda character, the Dark Empire saga connects with Tales of the Jedi.  She is the direct descendant of Nomi Sunrider, by way of Nomi's daughter Vima.
  • Upon arrival in Nar Shaddaa, it becomes clear the Millennium Falcon and her occupants are all on the most wanted list for both the Empire and the Hutts' bounty hunters.
  • Still, our heroes found Vima and bring her with them, surviving an encounter with Boba Fett on their way out of dodge.


  1. Some of these I've read. I'm sure I have them all. Maybe even read them all, but it's been since the early 90s, so...

    Did you watch The Bad Batch?
    Very good show. I'm looking forward to following it and may start reviewing it.
    If I can figure out how to make time for that again.

    1. Not yet on The Bad Batch, though I'm hearing good things.